Before there was email or e-filing, Godfrey & Kahn had Saralee Taibleson.
The firm hired her at 19 to be a runner, a job that had her traveling to courthouses in Madison and Milwaukee to file documents and going to clients’ homes to have them sign documents. Her most memorable trip, however, was a trip across the border to deliver papers to Dudley Godfrey at O’Hare airport.
Taibleson had been late because she had taken the wrong interstate and thought Godfrey had missed his plane, so she parked her car in front of the airport with the blinkers on so she could deliver the papers. Godfrey told her not to worry and to have dinner with him. But after she left to park the car, Godfrey was gone.
“I came back inside but I couldn’t find him, so I wandered around for about an hour,” said Taibleson. “It wasn’t until I returned home later that evening that I’d found out that they had held the plane.”
Nearly four decades later, Taibleson, now coordinator of the firm’s Central File Department, has built a career defined by her willingness to go out of her way to help others and reach out to offer that help.
Taibleson’s previous roles at the firm include receptionist, marking assistant and audit coordinator. Now, as Central File’s coordinator, Taibleson’s work has her doing more than her title implies. In addition to supervising the maintenance of client files, she oversees conflict checks and manages the firm’s client-intake system.
Taibleson said her favorite part of her work is helping people — and doing the detective work some of her work entails.
“I always tell employees, ‘If I can’t help you, I’ll point you in the right direction,’” Taibleson said. “I also like to play detective when searching the database for matters that may not be as descriptive as they could be.”
Taibleson’s willingness to reach out to help people in the firm has helped her move up, said Rick Gureski, central-file manager. He noted that she is always the first to volunteer to help — whether it’s to buy lunch for colleagues who forgot theirs or to volunteer for an office committee.
Gureski, who has worked with Taibleson for more than a decade, also noted that she is extremely friendly and amiable — so much so that he has seen her pick up a call from someone who dialed the wrong number but nevertheless make friends with that person.
“She is just a very positive, loyal and dedicated person,” Gureski said. “She’s just trying to be there for everyone.”