Jane Hartley Pratt
By Mackenzie Mahler“You tell Billy that we don’t fight; we sue.” Originally advice to their son, this is the philosophy that reigned in the Pratt household, and with two lawyers, it makes perfect sense. Local attorney Jane Hartley Pratt is a pillar of the Monmouth community through both her law practice and her service in the local Rotary Club. The Indianapolis native migrated to Monmouth with her late husband, Channing L. Pratt from Washington, D.C.
Pratt graduated from Indiana University’s Law School in 1955. When she entered the school, she was the only woman in the program. “[Dealing with the gender inequality] was a challenge until they realized I was there to graduate, not just to get a man,” said Pratt. “I think it’s best typified by when I walked in the building… we were in an old building and had to walk up a short flight of steps, and there were three fellas standing there. One of them looked down and in a snide comment said, ‘Well, she’s in the wrong building.’ And, I just said, ‘No she’s not!’” By the time she graduated, two other women had joined the program.
“Most of the fellas were great,” said Pratt. “We had – my husband and I – had such special friendships with two of them and their spouses.
Eventually, Pratt and her husband moved to back Monmouth – her husband had roots in Roseville – and took up residence at a local law practice. “I can’t imagine spending your career not sharing it with a spouse,” said Pratt of working with her husband at the firm Beal, Pratt, & Pratt. “It worked great for us. It wouldn’t work for a lot of people, but his personality was such with mine that it worked well.”
In addition to working together, the two got to know members in the community better through different gatherings in town. They didn’t stick to your average book club, however. Instead, Pratt described how the couple formed a gourmet club with several other couples in town and learned how to cook sophisticated dishes. “We were also original members of the wine club in town,” said Pratt. “The club started in 1975, and although I’m the only one left from the original group, we’re still finding out new things about wine.”
Pratt reminisced on raising her three children in Monmouth and how thankful she is that she had this small community to lean on. “It’s nice knowing that if you really need help, you can get it… or give it,” said Pratt. “Monmouth was a great place for raising children. You knew who their friends were and could kind of keep track of things… There were times our kids did things that they don’t know I know about and still don’t know I know about to this day, but we found out from the other parents. In that sense, it’s been a great place to raise children.”
She doesn’t just love the community she lives in, but Pratt actively gives back to Monmouth by serving as the local Rotary Club’s president. “Rotary is an extremely worthwhile organization, and I think we all have to step up and take our turn at leadership. I really consider it a privilege to work with that group,” said Pratt.
“Working with Jane has been an awesome experience,” said Rotaract president and Monmouth College junior, Jake McLean. “It’s apparent how much she cares about the Monmouth community and the people that she works with. Her care for the community is what inspires me and others to continue helping out wherever we can.”
In addition to serving as Rotary president, Jane still practices law full-time at Beal, Pratt, & Pratt with partner Andrew L. Youngquist.