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Klein finds life-work balance in career

Klein finds life-work balance in career

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Tracey Klein | Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren
Tracey Klein | Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren

Tracey Klein has learned an important lesson about having a legal career: The higher attorneys rise in the ranks, the more flexibility they have.

That basic truth might not have been so evident to her when she was 29 and had just given birth to twins. She had six weeks off work and lots of doubts about whether she could strike a balance between motherhood and having a career, she said.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is maybe not worth it,’” said Klein, now 56 and the chairwoman of the Health Care Department of Milwaukee-based Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

But, with encouragement from her husband and Mondays off, she said she somehow managed it all. It just meant keeping her blue jeans and dress-down clothes in her car for the quick transition to school volunteer.

“And I tried to pretend I didn’t have my business suit on a hanger,” she said.

A life in law wasn’t Klein’s first choice. She was a political science major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had plans to run campaigns.

But she decided that would be a difficult life, so she chose law school.

In the last year she found herself trying to decide whether she should pursue lobbying or the law. Once again she chose the law, taking a job at the health care firm in Milwaukee.

From that point on, working in health care became a priority.

She said it’s a fulfilling type of practice because it gives her a chance to serve people.

“It’s just a real opportunity to represent an industry,” Klein said, “and all of the multifacets of that industry.”

Not only does Klein enjoy her legal practice, she has the added benefit of being really good at it, said Jerry Janzer, Reinhart CEO and chairman. He’s worked with Klein since she started at the firm 17 years ago.

He said she’s a great role model and really involved in the community. She recently, for instance, won an appointment to the UW Board of Regents.

“What I think impresses me the most about her,” Janzer said, “is when she engages on whatever she engages on, she gives it her complete effort.”

Her tenacity becomes evident when she talks about the sense of ownership that goes along with the flexibility of her position at the firm.

“It’s your own business,” Klein said. “Every year you have to start over and re-create.”


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