Meg S.L. Pekarske, Husch Blackwell
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Meg S.L. Pekarske, partner, Husch Blackwell.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
As a hospice attorney for 20 years, I would say the most challenging and the most rewarding part of my work is that it’s ever changing. I am always working toward a moving target, having to move and grow with my clients’ needs.
Another rewarding aspect of working in hospice law is that I am passionate about this mission of each of my clients. My clients work to provide a comfortable end of life. From a personal standpoint, when you work with people whose career is directly involved with death on a daily basis, you end up thinking about death more. This isn’t to sound morbid but working in this industry gives me more focus and awareness of the present moment. In a philosophical way, working in hospice law gives me more emphasis on life, and how I want to live my life.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
When asked who I look up to in business, or really in all aspects of life, the woman who comes to mind immediately is my mentor, Mary Michal. Mary is a huge reason why I got involved in hospice law. While I had already been interested in getting into health care law, Mary ran a hospice law practice in Madison and pulled me in. Mary has directly impacted my life as a strong female leader and has been a tremendous help in building my own practice. I can confidently say I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mary.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
While there isn’t a specific moment that comes to mind, the significance of the issues I’ve dealt with has made the biggest impact on me over the past 20 years. As my practice has grown, I’ve been trusted to handle more difficult and more serious situations. My clients have come to trust me to be the steady hand. As I’ve grown in my career, so has the complexity of cases that come across my desk. With some cases, especially those that involve government disputes, my clients put their full trust in me and I end up being the difference between remaining in business and going out of business.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Follow good people. As simple as this sounds, we tend to make things overly complicated. The decisions that led me to where I am today resulted from following good people. These kinds of people are authentic and make you feel good. Look to these people for advice and absorb everything they are willing to share with you.
Going off this, focus on being a good person. As a 21-year-old, it can be difficult to discern who you are. Concentrate on bringing your whole self to what you do — professionally and personally. It comes down to being yourself and not trying to fit someone else’s mold for you.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
The sense of community in Madison is what makes living and working in Dane County so great. With any community, not everyone will agree on every issue, but here in Madison the people who live here genuinely want to make the city better for everyone. The residents of Dane County are invested and engaged in making this a great place to live — from great the education system to caring for the environment.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
While this might not be a secret to everyone, I love art. Ever since I was seven years old, I wanted to be an artist. Even now I consider myself an artist, or at least I am aspiring to be. Currently, I am enrolled in a drawing class at the Art Institute of Chicago. While half of my brain is analytical and focused on law, the other half is artistic and creative. I have a strong desire to build with my hands.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I typically focus my time both at work and at home on enriching myself. However, one of my guilty pleasures is unplugging and watching a good TV show. Like many others, I am currently enjoying the show, Ted Lasso. I find that watching a good show is great for turning off your brain for 30 minutes to an hour for no purpose other than enjoyment.
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