While a lot has changed since Kelly Roberts began working as a legal assistant 30 years ago, one thing hasn’t: Her love of the job.
Roberts, who has worked the past 12 years at Michael Best & Friedrich in its intellectual-property practice group, enjoys the variety her job brings and the obstacles that she must find ways to overcome along the way.
“I really like that I don’t do the same thing every day. I like that I’m always learning something new every day – just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks,” she said, adding technology has completely changed her work.
At Michael Best, Roberts works with two attorneys and one patent agent, an arrangement requiring her to make time for various duties.
“It’s not always easy because the priorities are always changing. Clients will call and need something prepared so it can be filed last minute, which means you stop whatever you are doing,” she said. “It’s a good thing I’m flexible and can push things aside and help out wherever needed.”
Staying organized is essential – even if it doesn’t look that way, Roberts said. “I have organized piles – some people call it clutter – on my desk, but I know exactly what’s in those piles and what needs to be done,” she said.
Roberts enjoys working on intellectual-property cases and seeing the patent process in motion. “I also enjoy seeing the different things our clients work on,” she said.
Steve Gigot, the chairman of the firm’s intellectual-property practice group, praised Roberts’ understanding of the practice area.
“Kelly’s proficiency in the area of IP has a far greater scope than what is required,” he said. Her “knowledge of the U.S. Patent Office procedures is regularly called upon by a variety of individuals in our IP group.”
Roberts handles various duties, ranging from reviewing mail to see if there is anything needing an immediate response to reporting to clients as the patent process progresses. She also keeps the docketing program up to date and checks PEAR, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office program, to see where different cases are in the patent process.
She is also the firm’s floor-work coordinator, meaning if someone is unavailable to work on a project, Roberts “makes sure the work gets done.”
Gigot said Roberts’ “unflappable demeanor” is well known in the office, as is her ability to find remedies for various difficulties. For example, an attorney was stuck in Pennsylvania because of a weather delay and told there would be no way to get home. He called Roberts, who found an unconventional flight route to get him home for the weekend.
Gigot also praised Roberts’ ability to foresee clients’ needs and interests. “She has earned a level of trust to be a client-facing member of our team,” he said.