Kurt Goehre never knows what to expect when he sits down to start his day at the Law Firm of Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry S.C. in Green Bay.
An employee law specialist, he said the questions and duties change daily.
“The nice thing about employment law is that everyday is different,” Goehre said. “I get calls from different clients about different issues. For me, that variety works well. I enjoy that aspect of my practice.”
Goehre didn’t start out focusing on employment law. When he first got into practicing law, he worked for two years in general and corporate litigation.
“The employment law group was busy, so I went over there to help and didn’t really leave,” he said. “Employment law was never on my radar screen in law school.”
Businesses turn to Goehre when they have questions about employee-related issues, such as the Fair Labor Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, wage and hour, employment discrimination, worker’s compensation and labor relations.
“I’m a sounding board. They call up and want to know my take on an issue and what the law says about this or that,” he said, adding that if needed he can represent the company in litigation.
Goehre works with some large business clients on a regular basis and also smaller businesses looking for help on a certain issue. Employment law is complicated, which is why businesses of all sizes likely need an attorney to talk to about what’s going on, he said.
“There’s federal and state requirements and businesses need to make sure they’re in compliance,” he said. “Many employers get focused on the federal requirements and think that if they follow those they’ll be in compliance with state rules. That’s not always the case. They need to make sure they’re following both state and federal law in what they’re doing.”
Wisconsin Law Journal: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Kurt Goehre: Helping clients tackle complex problems and obtain favorable results, without necessarily having to charge the client an arm and a leg. I deal primarily with corporate clients related to employment issues and it is important to them to get a quick response in a cost-effective manner. Some clients don’t like dealing with compliance issues and, in general, aren’t too fond of paying attorneys to handle matters that they feel (rightly or wrongly) are more of a nuisance than anything else. Everybody wins if I can find a way to reduce those complexities and provide quick and efficient results.
WLJ: Who is your hero in the legal field?
Goehre: I’m not sure I have a hero in the legal field. However, I would say that Justice Scalia is certainly one legal titan that I have followed and look to for pointers. His ability to artfully craft decisions that were persuasive and instructive while also entertaining the reader through his wit, charm and master of vocabulary was brilliant.
WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
Goehre: I really try to leave my work life at work so it doesn’t negatively affect other areas of my life. I have three kids that keep me busy outside of work. Spending time with my wife and kids is great for relieving stress and forgetting the day-to-day stressors. I also have taken up long-distance running and stay active in a local flag football league (that accommodates the ‘not so young anymore, but like to pretend they are’ types). I find that exercise is also good for dealing with stress.
WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
Goehre: Of course, friends and family assume that I am in court all the time and are surprised to hear that, while I do get to court every now and then, it is not an everyday occurrence.
WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Goehre: The cane toss. I missed my cane, but still won my first trial.
WLJ: Is there a certain case that stands out to you?
Goehre: I handled a property and zoning dispute for my client that spanned several years and ping-ponged back and forth between the trial court and court of appeals. The case ultimately ended favorably for my client, but it was a grueling endeavor for my client with a lot of ups and downs along the way.