ST. LOUIS — Jane Dueker pivoted to working from her home at the beginning of 2019, after leaving a law firm and going out on her own. But she never envisioned this much time there — including with three family members.
"My days were hijacked with stuff with the kids," she said of the COVID-19 shutdown period. Work, normally relegated to a more traditional schedule, got pushed into the evenings.
And the lawyer and lobbyist said she's become busier during the pandemic because the work of public officials continued, while many private industries slowed or closed. Dueker specializes in helping clients who interface with government, and is also a longtime media personality on KMOX. She represents three police organizations, including two local unions, a trade group for the state's cable industry, and the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri.
In another era, Dueker served in many public roles at the state level, including assistant attorney general, chief legal counsel and chief of staff under former Gov. Bob Holden.
You already worked from home. What's so different now? I would have a lot of meetings outside home, go to people's offices. And I could work at home because my son is in college, my daughter is in high school and my husband went to his job as a judge. The house was empty during the day, and I took over our old formal living room as an office. I'd stay focused by telling myself I could only do chores, like dishes or laundry, when I was on the phone. I also tried to keep regular work hours and leave it behind when those were over. It's impossible to work when everyone's in the house. My husband and I would have competing Zoom calls, with him in the basement. The kids would have to go to their bedrooms to work. We didn't all have the same schedule, and my kids didn't want to hear my phone calls. They expect when they walk down the stairs they can talk to me.
Why have you been busier? Government keeps going. Stay-at-home orders, Paycheck Protection Program. I got calls about everything. I do governmental consulting. It might be a business or individual who has to somehow get through government. They need help with a bureaucrat. They need to get a regulation or statute changed. They want to conduct business and need a license.
How does St. Louis stand out for that kind of work? It's a small-town city. If you're interested, you can really build relationships. That certainly makes your ability to do business or operate in St. Louis easier because people tend to know one another. I like to teach people how to do it, sort of demystifying government. You can get to know the bureaucrats who regulate you.
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