Emily Greb, Perkins Coie LLC

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Emily Greb, counsel, Perkins Coie LLC.

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

Litigating very large patent cases that can take several years from start to finish means there are lots of challenges. We work long hours and travel extensively. Our clients place a premium on turning out extremely high-quality work because the cases you’re building for them are important to the success of their business. Every day while you’re waking up to build a rock-solid case, you do so knowing that there are very bright lawyers on the other side whose singular goal is to destroy or undermine what you’ve built. To handle this, I’ve found rewarding moments along the way to what are hopefully overall wins in my cases. Winning small battles, like getting a key admission from a witness during a day-long deposition or coming up with an idea that no one else thought of, are those rewarding moments I look forward to on a week-to-week basis.

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

My dad, Frank Greb. He started out as a chemical engineer and moved up through the ranks of a large Madison business and is now the COO of Slipstream. It’s important to note that he might not have been my choice 10 years ago, and that’s a reflection of where I’ve come since getting my master’s in bacteriology and law degree. Now, with a family and a demanding job, I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifices that he and my mom made balancing work with family. It takes a lot of thankless work. They did a fantastic job and allowed my brother and I to have an idyllic Wisconsin childhood. I strive to achieve a similar level of professional and personal success.

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

For me, high points fall into two categories: team wins in significant cases and smaller individual victories. My law practice involves representing very large companies in high-stakes litigation over complex technologies. While I oversee large parts of some of those cases, it takes a well-coordinated team of extremely bright and hardworking people to win. Being on those teams has been incredibly rewarding. On a smaller scale, but equally rewarding, are those moments where I’m in complete control. When I’m taking a deposition of an important witness while sitting in a room full of lawyers from all over the country, the ability to extract an admission from that witness that is helpful to our case is really rewarding. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, in my work I really like winning, and especially dislike losing.)

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

Your career is a marathon. Invest the time it takes to do it well, because there are no shortcuts. But just like preparing for anything hard, you must build in down time to recover mentally and physically. Make sure you take meaningful vacations because time passes quickly, and it will be those experiences you look back on fondly.

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

The expression I’ve heard that I like is that Madison punches above its weight. For a city its size, we have great food, cultural opportunities, museums, and companies based here. It also has what might be described as a cosmopolitan population — people from all over the world with a wide diversity of experiences and viewpoints. Those things are great, but I especially like that we get all of that without the big-city commute.

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

Finding the right Lego piece. My nine-year-old son has loved Legos for years and is always impressed with my ability to sift through the piles and find just the right one. I haven’t found a way to translate that skill into a job just yet, but I am working on it.

What are your guilty pleasures?

French fries. I run for French fries. Seriously. At least several times a month you can find me at Brasserie V with a tall cone of fries. My love of French fries is not, however, limited to Brasserie V. My other Madison favorites include the French fries at Gates and Brovi, or at Sardine.

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