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Laura Peck, Axley Brynelson, LLP

IB's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Laura Peck, a partner with Axley Brynelson, LLP.

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Business Address: 2 E. Mifflin St., Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-283-6729
Birthplace: Milford, Conn.
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Greg Anderson
Board Membership: Former board member, Downtown Rotary Club of Madison; past president, Madison Downtown Rotary Foundation; Sherman Middle School PTO, treasurer
Organizations: Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Dane County Bar Associations; Village of Maple Bluff Plan Commission; Rotary Club of Madison; Wisconsin Commercial Real Estate Women; Madison Community Ambassadors for Technology in Schools
Education: University of Connecticut, B.A.; University of Connecticut School of Law, J.D.

How long have you been at the law firm, and what is your day-to-day role in the organization?
I joined the Axley law firm in 2005. I am a partner with a business practice, primarily in lending transactions and real estate. My clients are small and large banks, corporations, insurance companies, and small businesses. I spend most of my day on the phone or meeting with my clients, listening to their needs and working with them to find solutions. This can range from drafting and negotiating complex financial transactions to helping a small business owner contract with a part-time employee.

What was a career high point?
I am proud to have made several successful career transitions, contributing for many years in each of a number of different in-house and law firm settings. Before I joined Axley, I was general counsel at National Guardian Life Insurance Co. for many years. Back on the East Coast, I worked for 10 years at CIGNA in its investment law division.

What is a long-range goal that you’d like to achieve before leaving law?
I’d like to help mentor a new generation of women in finance, law, and real estate in this community. I have gained so much from this rewarding field and appreciate the people who helped me along the way. I have mentored students through my law school, Rotary, and WCREW and continue to look for similar opportunities in my workplace and community.

Who, outside the firm, has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
My parents instilled in me a great work ethic, good values, and the sense of responsibility to give back to my community. My grandfather is probably my main role model. He was a minister, a real hoot, and one of the most disarming and genuine people I have ever met.

Going back to those earlier days, when you were in high school, what were your career aspirations?
I loved to learn, so I was interested in many subjects. I frequently changed what I wanted to be – an astronomer or a psychologist, for example – but becoming a lawyer was probably always my strongest career interest.

Can you remember your first payckeck?
Caldor Department Store (similar to Shopko). I have no idea how much it was, but it was no doubt very little, minimum wage.

What did you do with it? Save, spend?
I was a senior in high school, and I saved most of it for college. I probably went to the movies with part of it!

You were born in Connecticut. What brought you to Wisconsin?
I went to Jazzfest in New Orleans, met my future husband who lived here, and we ended up in Wisconsin. I love Madison, and we are very happy to raise our family here in Wisconsin.

Anything you’d be willing to share about that family?
I am so very, very lucky to have walked into that bar in New Orleans and met my husband. He is my greatest source of strength and love. And our kids are such a joy to be around. Okay, not 24/7, but I have some perspective! Our kids keep us very busy with school activities, soccer, basketball, and Little League. We are about to expand our family to include Rafael, a 17-year-old Rotary exchange student from Argentina who will be with us through the end of the year and attending East High School. I studied abroad in law school in England and had a very good friend who was a Rotary scholar. Her Rotary sponsor family adopted me, too, and I always had it in the back of my mind to return the favor. I am looking forward to seeing how this experience will make our family life richer, although we are a little daunted by the prospect of having kids in three different elementary, middle, and high schools.

Is England your favorite travel destination today?
That’s really hard to say. Italy is probably my all-time favorite place, and I have a soft spot for New Orleans, where I met my husband. Lately, we have been traveling as a family to different U.S. cities and national parks. We are headed to Acadia National Park in Maine in August. I love seeing favorite places through my children’s eyes, as well as exploring new places with Greg.

What else do you do “beyond the office” that brings you happiness or relaxation?
I like to garden and to cook. Both of those activities are relaxing in their own way, produce tangible results, and are creative outlets. I also love to run, but that is getting harder, year by year. All of my family are sports fanatics, so we play and watch a lot of sports.

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