Joan Bernaden, a legal secretary and work coordinator at Quarles & Brady’s Milwaukee office, is the person whom everyone loves. Her colleagues describe her as a diligent and loyal employee, a trusted confidant and friend, and a sassy personality whom clients love to be around.
Bernaden joined Quarles & Brady as an intern and was hired as a full-time legal secretary in 1986. She added work coordinator to her duties six years ago. She handles training, technology, administrative meetings and more — putting in long hours as a client caretaker and the “unofficial mom” of her floor.
The firm invited defense counsel from around the country for a five-week trial last spring, and Bernaden volunteered to work with the visitors every day for five weeks straight.
“Sometimes you just have to step up and do it,” Bernaden said. “I think it really has to do with how I was raised in a large Catholic, Italian family. You do a job well and you stick to it until it’s done.”
Jeff Spoerk, national chair of the firm’s product-liability group, has worked with Bernaden for 31 years. The two made many mad dashes to file briefs at the courthouse before electronic filing existed, and he’s seen dozens of clients become her lasting friends. Spoerk said she recently took a client out for dinner and a show during a personal trip to Pittsburgh.
“It goes to show how everybody just loves Joan,” Spoerk said. “She gets along with everybody.”
Bernaden said the family-like relationship she has with her co-workers has kept her at the firm for 33 years.
“Most of our co-workers care about not only the work, but also each other,” Bernaden said. “There are many of us that have been here 25 years or longer. We have watched our kids grow up and been through all the highs and lows of life together. I’m blessed to be surrounded by good people.”