Jonathan Margolies clearly remembers the poise Kathy Schill showed when she handled her first cross-examination and what she did to the expert witness.
Michael Best & Friedrich was litigating a case in New Jersey in the late 1990s. And when Schill faced the witness, she was nice, polite and got right to the point, said Margolies, an attorney at the firm for 25 years.
“She just devastated this guy with a smile,” he said, adding her prowess has nothing to do with her being a woman; she’s just a really good attorney.
Schill, now a partner in the firm’s litigation group, loves coming up with strategies for cases, she said. She specializes in patent and trademark cases.
“The hardest part of the job,” she said, “is helping clients manage their expectations and dealing with unexpected things that happen in litigation.”
Despite her fitting in so well at Michael Best, she never really expected to end up there, Schill said. She grew up in Milwaukee and went to Duke University for undergraduate work and law school. While there, she met her future husband, who taught at a nearby high school while she was finishing her law degree.
Upon her graduation, she looked at firms in various cities before deciding on Michael Best back in her hometown.
“It wasn’t what I expected to do,” Schill said, “but it turned out great.”
During her time with the firm, she has had two children. When her second was born, she said, she struggled with figuring out how to manage her career with “being present the way I wanted to be present at home.”
The firm helped her find that balance by letting her, for the past 15 years, work on a 60 percent schedule.
“I did feel really fortunate that the firm was willing to give it a go,” Schill said.
The firm is happy to have her, Margolies said. She’s a clear thinker, he said, who doesn’t fight the “ridiculous issues,” and she is the “clearest and most elegant writer” with whom he has worked.
“Her first drafts look like my 20th drafts,” Margolies said.
Schill loves writing, she said, because it gives her a chance to see her research, analysis and strategies play out. She said she appreciates the compliment but thinks her colleague might have gone too far.
“He’s prone to exaggeration,” Schill said.