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Theresa L. Roetter, DeWitt LLP

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Theresa L. Roetter, attorney, DeWitt LLP.

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

On a daily basis I get the opportunity to apply the law to help people add a child to their family through adoption or assisted reproduction, which is a fancy term for surrogacy, egg, sperm, and embryo donation. The practice of law does not get any more rewarding than the look on a new parent’s face when they get to meet their child after years of hoping and dreaming of that possibility.

The law lags behind modern medicine and it is challenging to explain that delay to hopeful families. I have been fortunate to be able to work with legislators to help improve Wisconsin laws for children and families and am energized by trying to modernize the current framework.

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

Carol Bartz, former CEO of Yahoo. I don’t know her personally, but Ms. Bartz and I both grew up in small western Wisconsin towns — in the Dairyland Conference! — and both worked our way through college waitressing, so I identify with her. I followed her upward trajectory while I was just unpacking my brand-new briefcase and figuring out what type of lawyer I wanted to be. Her hard work, honesty, and willingness to stand up and call out antiquated policies were traits I strived to emulate when I started my career.

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

Awards and recognition are nice, and I’ve appreciated my good fortune at receiving both state and national accolades for my work as a lawyer in adoption and assisted reproduction advocacy, but it is the simple “thank you” and the adorable photos of new families I receive that keep me coming back to the office each day.

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

Don’t quit your gym membership. Find a way to both work and work out. As your law practice gets busier and busier, remember that time for yourself — tennis, biking, yoga, a walk with a friend — will help preserve your sanity. And when you look up and realize you did let that all slip away, find your way back to it.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

The lakes! I take a longer route to work so I can see at least one of the lakes every day. The parks! My house is within walking distance of at least six parks and my office is steps from the one surrounding the Capitol. Our Capitol is truly a public gathering space. So many other state capitols are set apart and treated as museums; not ours.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

Marie Kondo has nothing on me — I’m a great declutterer and am not afraid to throw things out. When I recently moved my law practice, I reveled in cleaning out the drawers, files, and binders of accumulated stuff. The “scan and save” is such an amazing tool for those who really worry that they will need that ancient document again.

What are your guilty pleasures?

It’s not exotic but sitting by a fire and reading a book with a glass of red wine is a wonderful treat. It feels decadent because my “to do” list is long. I also really enjoy a trip to Sundara Inn & Spa or Kohler Waters Spa — an afternoon of quiet followed by a massage and a swim is heavenly.

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