Ever since she could remember, Alison Helland has always wanted to be an attorney.
“I think I’ve always wanted to help people however I can and also help create change in my community,” she said. “I think being a lawyer is a great way of doing that.”
The tax and business lawyer at Boardman & Clark enjoys developing relationships with clients and becoming their trusted advisor. Gaining that trust is crucial in her work, which involves business succession planning, forming businesses and estate planning for business owners.
“You need to be authentic,” she said. “Although we’re all professionals, part of it is really letting your personality shine through and getting to know the client and the business.”
On the other hand, one of the hardest parts of the work is that it’s always presenting something new to learn.
“It’s a long-term learning experience,” Helland said. “There’s always going to be something new that comes up. I look at it as an opportunity rather than a challenge or frustration.”
She said the notion that tax attorneys are isolated and should be called in only when absolutely necessary is antiquated.
“I take a collaborative approach with financial advisors and accountants,” she said. “I think that’s really the most effective approach to make sure we are doing the best we can for our clients.”
Helland says she owes much of her success to a handful of mentors, including the late Bill Mundt, who did work in estate planning at Boardman & Clark and took his role seriously.
“I look at Bill as the gold standard,” she said. “In addition to being a brilliant attorney, he took a genuine interest in his clients as people, developing many long-term client relationships throughout his career.”
Another important mentor to Helland is Julie Bogle, a partner at Middleton-based Smith & Gesteland. The two met on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Taxation Section Board.
“She has been an invaluable resource to me in building my own practice and has consistently encouraged me to continue writing, speaking and participating in leaderships activities at the State Bar,” Helland said. “Basically, I want to be her when I grow up.”