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Melissa Cover Selinger, Selinger & Brunette LLC

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Melissa Cover Selinger, attorney and founder, Selinger & Brunette LLC.

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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most rewarding aspect of my job as an estate-planning attorney is the deep personal relationships I have the good fortune to form with my clients. Listening to people’s stories about their families and their businesses, and the hopes, worries, and fears that go along with those aspects of their lives, really brings you in close quickly. The most challenging part of my job is converting so much of what is really listening, counseling, and relationship building into billable legal work that results in receipts. It can also be tough to “check out” of work to spend time with my family because the relationships are so personal and people’s problems require prompt attention. I think when you feel close to your clients and really care about them, their problems begin to feel like your problems and making sure you’re not working (or thinking about work) all the time can be hard to do. Reading the tax code on a daily basis can also be a challenge.

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

My dad. He broke off of his firm to form his own office when I was just a baby, and has built a very successful practice serving his clients’ estate planning, business planning, and tax needs. I’ve loved witnessing the deep satisfaction he has achieved from running his own business, setting his own hours, and servicing his clients’ needs while forming close relationships with them. I don’t think he’ll ever retire — he just loves his work and it’s such an inspiration!

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

Forming my own firm with my business partner, Ben. We knew what we needed to do to improve our client services and the client experience, and we did it! It has been incredibly gratifying to witness the loyalty of our clients and the strength of our brand with our referral sources as we set out on our own. I love bringing peace of mind to our clients, and at the same time providing exceptional work quality through a business model that’s well suited to high-touch personal legal services. Finding a business partner in Ben and a top-notch paralegal, Mallory, who have similar work styles to me has been a godsend. I can honestly say we have fun together every single day, and that makes work feel like a lot less like work!

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

View every connection and every relationship as valuable in some way. Whether it’s a person you work a small job with in high school, or have a class with in college, or share the elevator, a line at a food cart, or just a smile with, whether it’s someone you find great value in emulating or someone you decidedly don’t want to emulate, every one of them can teach you a little something. My smallest clients have taught me just as much about myself and about the world as my largest. If you’re paying attention, every person you encounter in your life gives you a different perspective on all the ways you can live and work.

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