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Legal Secretary/Administrative Lit Trainer, Fish & Richardson

Unsung: Barb Skarboe

Barb Skarboe

Barb Skarboe

Legal Secretary/Administrative Lit Trainer, Fish & Richardson

When Fish & Richardson litigators hit the road for a big trial, legal secretary Barbara Skarboe makes sure they reach their destination with their temporary offices ready to go.

Skarboe’s administrative skills are so legion that attorneys and colleagues at the Minneapolis-based law firm know her as “the trial guru,” according to a colleague.

As a result, Minnesota Lawyer is honoring Skarboe, a 14-year veteran at Fish & Richardson, as a 2013 Unsung Legal Hero.

“I was surprised and very excited and humbled” to get the award, Skarboe said.

Currently, Skarboe works for four of Fish’s intellectual property attorneys. That job is challenging enough since each lawyer has very different practices, cases and administrative needs, said Carol Varhalla, Fish & Richardson office manager.

“Barb truly shines in providing support to a litigation team. She is known as the ‘trial guru’ because of how often other attorneys and offices solicit her help during trial,” Varhalla said.

With many of Fish & Richardson’s high-profile litigation trials held elsewhere in the country, Skarboe makes sure the legal team’s office away from home is in top working order, Varhalla said.

In one case, Skarboe turned a hotel’s ballroom into a working office space in three days for the Fish team of 14 attorneys, five paralegals and administrative staff, Varhalla said. That was for a trial held in late 2011 in North Carolina.

“Barb secured networked computers, internet access, phone lines, printers, copiers, projectors, electronic white boards, faxes and more,” Varhalla noted. “She had the entire record ready when the trial team arrived.”

Varhalla called Skarboe’s effort an example of her “off-the-charts work ethic.”

In her 14 years at Fish, Skarboe said she has worked with attorneys on 18 trials. Of her job, Skarboe said, “It’s always challenging. Always changing.”

Besides her regular duties, Skarboe, 50, is also an administrative litigation trainer, working with new legal secretaries at the law firm’s Minneapolis office.

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