Continuing our series on Leaders & Influencers, we talk with attorney Jane Clark, founding partner at Clark & Gotzler, a Madison-based law firm specializing in human resources and employment law, founded in November 2015. Clients range from start-up businesses to multi-state employers in a range of industries as well as the non-profit sector.
What was it that made you decide to found Clark & Gotzler?
My business partner, Mike Gotzler, and I have been working together for a number of years, and through a variety of interests and involvements with various businesses and organizations, we got the entrepreneurial bug. We also both have kids who are the same ages, with our oldest kids starting high school, so the time was right to try this so that our business could be established by the time they started college. Once you get that entrepreneurial bug, it’s very difficult to ignore!
We also felt that now more than any other time in recent memory, there’s just a really great culture of entrepreneurship in Madison. I’ve been active with the Doyenne Group [a local organization that promotes and develops women entrepreneurs] and have worked with start-ups in the past, and just to see how charged these clients are is really exciting. Mike and I felt that the services that we provide could fill a unique niche, and it gave us a reason to be excited about launching our firm.
What does Clark & Gotzler offer that other firms do not?
Mike and I have unique, respective backgrounds that really bring something different to the world of legal representation. We have private law firm experience, and have been in-house consumers of legal services and also advisors to clients. We’ve helped run organizations, and provided legal, managerial, executive, and advisory services. The other attorneys we’ve taken on since founding the firm also have this unique mix. Most law firm attorneys don’t have that in-house experience.
What’s the most important piece of legal advice you give to start-ups regarding human resources or employment law?
One of the most important pieces to have in place, especially as businesses are growing and starting to hire outside their group of friends or advisors, is an employee handbook. It’s important both for the leaders of the organization as well as the employees. This is especially true when businesses start expanding outside of the state, to have this road map for how to get things done, and to reflect your corporate and organizational culture. The employee handbook is not meant to be intimidating; it should be educational and reflect your voice as a company.
Any HR/employment-related books, blogs, or podcasts you recommend to new or established entrepreneurs?
There are so many resources out there, but not all of them are great. The best thing to do is to find one that reflects your voice and approach to business. Don’t jump on whatever happens to be hot at the moment or is produced by the biggest expert. If it doesn’t match your approach or culture, it won’t come across as credible.
What are you enjoying most in your work now?
I love being back advising clients directly. In my most recent job as a COO, I was more involved with the big picture and advising the staff members who were advising clients, so it’s great to be working with clients directly again. I also love the problem-solving aspect—I love helping clients resolve problems, whether they’re existing problems or ones that might be looming just around the corner.
Visit Fine Point Consulting for more information about the great tools and services we use to help businesses like Clark & Gotzler succeed.