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Nothing routine about Fleming’s approach to legal practice

Casey Fleming

Casey Fleming

makes her living as a tax lawyer, a job that may strike many as being regimented and rules-bound as they come.

But such a description could hardly be further from the truth for the way she and her team at Foley & Lardner go about answering the sorts of thorny legal questions that are routinely brought to them by their clients.

“What we try to do is work within the rules to try to get them to the outcome they need to be at,” Fleming said. “We try to say no as rarely as possible. There’s definitely a creative, problem-solving aspect to our practice.”

Fleming, a partner in Foley & Lardner’s employee benefits and executive-compensation practice group, says her clients are what she enjoys most about her work.

“It’s turned into an incredible practice,” Fleming said. “When you boil it down, it’s just about helping our clients design programs to help make their companies and their people the most effective that they can be.”

One of the biggest influences on her work has been her friend and mentor, the attorney Leigh Riley, who is also a partner at Foley. She and Riley met for a lunch at the end of Fleming’s two-summer stint as a summer associate at Foley, leading Fleming to choose to work in the firm’s employee-benefits and executive-compensation practice group.

“The biggest thing she taught me is how to approach our job practically and from a business perspective – and to serve that role where you’re the conduit for your client to get where they want to be as opposed to the barrier,” Fleming said.

Fleming now does her own share of working with others at the firm, helping women advance in the legal profession. She spoke recently in Chicago at a leadership summit for women in the legal field. And last year, Fleming received the firm’s mentor of the year award.

“I’ve just been really lucky to have fallen into this,” she said. “I think mentoring is so incredibly important for an organization’s culture and success. And it’s just so fun and fulfilling to be a mentor because it’s something you can see.”

Wisconsin Law Journal: What was your least favorite class in law school?

Casey Fleming: Definitely evidence. That was a super easy one. I hated Evidence. And I feel like that was the moment where I was like, ‘There is no way I’m ever, ever stepping foot in a courtroom. I also, ironically, didn’t care for Personal Income Tax. And now I’m a tax lawyer.

WLJ: If you could go back and change something about your life, what would it be and why?

CF: I probably would have taken time off between college and law school and given myself some work experience, maybe see the world a little bit to get a different perspective. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to integrate that into my life as a lawyer. But I think that if I could go back, I’d do that.

WLJ: Tell me about a favorite concert or show you’ve gone to.

CF: I went to a David Sedaris show. I think he’s one of the most gifted people. He makes you laugh. He makes you cry.

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