There are parts of Amy Schmidt Jones’ legal career that were lost in the fog of motherhood.
The partner at Milwaukee’s Michael Best & Friedrich said “flat-out fatigue” can do that to someone.
“Certainly, I think embarking on being a mother as well as an attorney was probably one of the biggest challenges in my career,” Schmidt Jones said, “because you want to give 100 percent in both areas.”
But, she said, the environment at Michael Best helped her overcome that hurdle, and the flexible schedule she kept during that time did nothing to slow her career progression.
Now with the firm for nearly 20 years, she has risen to become chairwoman of the Labor and Employment Relations practice group. Her job now has her playing primarily three roles.
First, as a litigator, she represents management exclusively in cases when, for instance, a company has been sued by an employee.
The firm’s managing partner, David Krutz, said her talent in that regard also has helped Michael Best at times when she represented her own employer. He didn’t go into details but said Schmidt Jones has guided the firm get out of some “sticky situations” and reach amicable resolutions he didn’t think were possible.
Second, she is a counselor for employers, helping them handle employee complaints and finding ways to avoid litigation, if possible.
But the job also means she is a manager. She supervises about 40 attorneys and paralegals and handles strategic directions for the group, advocates on its behalf and works with the firm’s management team.
“It’s a lot of meetings,” Schmidt Jones said.
It’s also a big advantage to the firm, Krutz said. He said she has “one of the highest intellects of the people in our firm and the people I’ve met” and combines that intelligence with sound judgment, which helps her cut through legalese when solving problems.
“She’s added the sophistication in a practice area to take us to the next level with some of the clients that are multinational or have complex organizational structures,” Krutz said.
That’s a long road to travel for someone who wasn’t sure she wanted to be a lawyer. Schmidt Jones even tried her hand at broadcasting with CBS on the East Coast before choosing law school at New York University.
“It is sort of a way of thinking,” she said, “that plays to my strengths.”
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