“It’s serendipity.” Anne Winner attributes much of her 32-year career at Keating O’Gara to a happy accident, but those who know her best might disagree. Anne’s quick wit and commitment to ethical, responsible professionalism have helped her achieve career success.
At age 18, Anne attended Air Force basic training, having enlisted in the Nebraska Air National Guard to help pay for college tuition. Over the next ten years, Anne worked on an undergraduate education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln but had no idea what to do with that education. Anne had no dream of becoming a lawyer, even though the legal profession runs in her blood: Anne’s great-grandfather and two great-uncles were Iowa lawyers, one of her great-uncles served on the Iowa Supreme Court and was a judge at the Nuremberg Trials following World War 2. Anne’s dad, F.L. Winner, graduated from the Creighton University School of Law before moving out to practice in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and, like any small-community lawyer, he handled every type of case. F.L.’s children so admired him as a wonderful example and a fine gentleman that three of them followed him into the lawyering business.
Law School by Default
Even with this family history, Anne enrolled in the University of Nebraska College of Law by default, having no clear idea of what she’d do. Once settled into her first week of classes, Anne was hooked: “As soon as I got there I knew I was in the right place. I loved law school.” Anne thrived in the challenging academic environment of law school where every student is “as smart or smarter than you are.”
Anne began working for Keating O’Gara while still a law student, and respected the lawyers and their work so much she never wanted to be anywhere else. As soon as she graduated in 1985, Anne began as an associate attorney, and fresh out of law school, worked like any associate, helping the more seasoned lawyers, learning the ropes and honing her skills. One of the law partners handled a thriving workers’ compensation practice and Anne discovered she especially enjoyed those cases and associations. Thus, Anne built a solid career focused on handling workers’ compensation cases, hundreds of them over the years. Representing employers, Anne appreciates working with experienced, sophisticated clients, enjoys the intellectual challenge, and deeply values the network of wonderful colleagues developed over the past three decades. In cases for individual clients, whether injured employees or uninsured employers, Anne brings compassion and reassurance to her legal representation.
With more than 30 years’ experience, Anne is frequently called upon by other workers’ compensation lawyers to serve as mediator of their complicated cases, meeting with the parties and their attorneys, reviewing their evidence, encouraging them to avoid risks of trial, to reach settlement.
A significant feature of Anne’s law practice is the delicate and complicated assignment of representing the Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications, which handles the investigation of ethical complaints against Nebraska judges. While the work is confidential and sensitive, Anne notes that what began as a one-time assignment twenty years ago became a source of enormous professional satisfaction, and she considers these cases among the most important and fulfilling in her career.
Working with the Best Trial Lawyers
“I knew when I began as a law clerk at this firm that Keating O’Gara was absolutely the best place for a trial lawyer to be.” Anne was introduced into the firm working with and soaking up the experiences and lessons of the senior lawyers, learning how to serve clients, developing courtroom presentation and trial skills, emphasizing the most important feature of lawyering: absolute, uncompromising ethical integrity. Keating O’Gara and its lawyers have a reputation in the legal community and among judges as always trustworthy, always prepared, always focused, and always doing the highest-quality work. They seek to provide their clients excellent service but also efficient representation: Rather than papering files with unnecessary motions and arguments, they remain mindful of every client’s concern about bottom line and prompt resolution: “It makes our efforts economically attractive for the client because they’re not paying for a lot of useless fancy lawyering that isn’t going to get them where they need to be.”
Anne and her firm colleagues “pride ourselves on doing the best work possible. There isn’t any question when one of our lawyers goes into the courtroom, the judge knows we’re prepared; we’re telling the truth; we’re advancing our position honorably; and we’re going to do a responsible, professional job knowing our preparation and our approach and our research are excellent.”
After Hours: Crosswords, Classics, and Cuisine
When she’s not at home working on crossword puzzles or reading a classic novel, Anne and her husband enjoy travel, from Pamplona to Paris to Prague, seeking out the great cathedrals and art galleries and experiencing the local cuisine, along with a little bit of adventure. Favorite destinations are northern France and Bavarian Germany. For art history lovers like Anne and her husband, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Chicago Art Institute are special favorites. As a Catholic, Anne weaves sacred places into her travel experiences and especially treasures the Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the rosary at Lourdes, and the stained glass windows in Chartres. Anne admits she travels on her stomach. This love of food means she’ll try anything the locals recommend, which leads to a few very interesting meals, most notably a serving of Danish ants in Copenhagen, which she described as “tangy!”
Anne at Keating O’Gara Law
Reflecting on her 32 years of lawyering at Keating O’Gara, Anne credits the members of the firm for her career satisfaction. “I don’t think there’s any question that my enjoyment of the law and my enjoyment of my career are directly related to the people in my firm, my partners. There is no doubt about that. I think anybody in this firm would say the same. We take care of one another and in doing so we take care of our work, we take care of our clients because we’re in the best possible place to do that.”