About the Member Recognition and Networking Celebration
Who: Award winners and their guests are welcome, as well as Institute attendees.
When and where: June 9 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., coinciding with the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and the Real Estate and Business Law Institute at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Why: To honor those attorneys, judges, and organizations that have provided outstanding volunteer service to the State Bar of Wisconsin and the legal community.
For more information on this and other events planned from June 8-10, and to register, visit the Real and Estate and Business Law Institute webpage.
May 4, 2011 – The State Bar will recognize more than 25 attorneys, judges, law firms, organizations, and law students who have made outstanding pro bono, public service, or public education contributions to the community, and the profession at the upcoming Member Recognition and Networking Celebration.
The event will take place June 9 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Awards will also be presented to members who are involved in State Bar services.
In this preview of award winners, Allan Koritzinsky reveals the secrets that helped him win a lifetime achievement award, other award winners share thoughts on pro bono efforts and a lifelong dedication to consumer, immigrant, and prisoner rights.
Secrets of success: Loeb award winner shares tips for a successful career in the law
New lawyers can learn a thing or two from Allan R. Koritzinsky, winner of the 2011 Leonard L. Loeb award for a lifetime of exceptional contributions to the legal community.
Over the course of a 38-year career, Koritzinsky has been a solo practitioner and large firm partner, working complex and challenging cases across the board, yet the secrets of his success seem simple enough.
“Collegiality is a big one. Recognize that the lawyer on the other side of the transaction or litigation is your friend in terms of getting the case resolved,” Koritzinsky said.
Koritzinsky will receive the Loeb award, presented by the Senior Lawyers Divisions, which acknowledges the work of a senior lawyer whose outstanding leadership has advanced the fundamental goals of the legal system. The celebration also honors attorneys who have provided outstanding volunteer service.
This year, the event will be held in conjunction with the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and PINNACLE’s Real Estate and Business Law Institute.
Joseph Melli, president of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Senior Lawyer Division, said selecting Koritzinsky “recognizes the important contributions he has made to both his clients and his community through his legal expertise and personal dedication.”
Koritzinsky has a practice formula that includes a strong work and home balance, a strategic planning model for resolving cases, and a passion for counseling and advising clients.
A 1966 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, Koritzinsky started as a general solo practitioner and helped build the firm to 23 lawyers before joining Foley & Lardner’s Madison office as a partner, where he practiced primarily in the business litigation department.
He was also the chair of the firm's family law practice group. He finished his full-time career at Foley in 2009. Two years later, he is back in the game. He still takes cases on a limited consulting basis, but does not serve as lead counsel. He is also back doing mediation work.
In 2002, Koritzinsky received the Morris Slavney Mediator of the Year award from the Dane County Bar Association for his work on and chairperson of the association's case mediation committee and as a pro bono family law mediator. As an author, speaker, mediator, and litigator, Koritzinsky always used a balanced approach to his work.
Throughout his career, even as partner (now retired partner) at Foley, which has offices around the country and the world, Koritzinsky only worked in the office during the evening and on weekends a handful of times, opting to work from home, finding time when his wife and children were doing their own thing. This allowed him to balance the stress of complicated cases, even one with $1 billion dollar stakes.
Koritzinsky said it was important for him to have the skills of a great trial lawyer, but it was best to use those skills as a backdrop to settle cases rather than going to trial. “I think a good settlement is always better than a good trial any day.”
“The weight on my shoulders certainly increased as the cases got bigger.” He said a loving wife, a teacher who graded papers at night while he worked on cases, helped him remain steady through 38 years of dedicated practice.
And now he gets to relax a little bit, picking and choosing the cases that come through Allan R. Koritzinsky, LLC. He anticipates his family law mediation and consultation practice will probably be statewide in the near future.
“To end a fulfilling career at Foley was a fantastic opportunity,” said Koritzinsky, who brought in business for the firm while practicing largely in the family law area. He says his favorite part of practicing law was helping people “navigate the system.”
He tried to use a medical model to resolve matters, staying with clients longer to perform the work while they were at the office. This allowed clients to see the work in progress, involve them as partners in their own cases, while showing them the value of Koritzinsky’s service.
“Usually, I would complete the pending work during the client’s visit,” he said. “This prevented me from working all day and getting further behind. In addition, it allowed me to reduce my backlog and work more efficiently.” As time went on, this good habit allowed Koritzinsky to have a life outside the law.
As the cases got more challenging, Koritzinsky embraced the challenge using his secrets to success. He said sound legal knowledge, hard work, intense case preparation, collegiality and good ethics helped him open the doors of opportunity and success.
A great staff always helped him along the way. “We had a great team,” Koritzinsky said proudly when he looked back over his career. A reputation based on professionalism and civility can go a long way, he said.
Pro bono lawyer of the year: David Harth helps prisoners enforce their rights
David Harth, partner at Perkins Coie LLC’s Madison office, has a thriving commercial litigation practice, but it’s his pro bono effort that earned him the 2010 Pro Bono Award for an Individual Attorney. The award is presented by the Legal Assistance Committee.
Harth, who spends hundreds of hours each year representing prisoners in section 1983 civil litigation, primarily in the Western District of Wisconsin, says prisoners have rights that he is dedicated to helping them enforce.
“Prison inmates are one of the most underserved segments of our society,” Harth said. “The ability to bring lawsuits is the only remedy they have. It’s important that we shine a light on what’s going on in the prisons through the legal system.”
Harth says it’s important that prisoners have the benefit of trained lawyers to help them. “There’s a huge need there,” he said, because there’s a lot of cases and not many lawyers who are willing to take them.
Harth has helped prisoners address issues relating to prison overcrowding, First Amendment rights, allegations of inadequate medical and mental health care, and use of excessive force by guards, among others.
For the past 10 years he has represented a Georgia inmate on death row seeking to overturn his conviction on the grounds of inadequate legal representation.
Asked how he finds the time to do these cases on top of his own private practice, he said it’s just a matter of making the time and being willing to do it.
“I’ve always believed that once I take one of these cases, that client is just as important as my paying clients, and they get the same attention,” Harth said.
For the past 15 years, Harth chaired the Western District Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee. He promotes social justice and mentors associates interested in taking on cases. He said the Western District Bar Association Pro Bono program is always looking for lawyers to help.
“It’s a great way for new attorneys to get experience,” Harth said. “These cases give first and second year attorneys the opportunity to get into court, which isn’t so easy to do anymore. And there can be wonderful benefits in doing it.”
Protecting the little guy: Mary Fons dedicated to protecting consumer rights
When someone gets duped by a large corporation or otherwise needs to protect their consumer rights, Mary Fons is one of the state’s go-to lawyers. Fons, a 1984 graduate of Marquette University Law School, is a solo practitioner and has been representing clients in consumer law cases for the past 17 years.
This dedication has earned Fons the 2010 Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney award, which recognizes a lawyer who has demonstrated a selfless, lifetime commitment to working in the public interest area. The award is presented by the Public Interest Law Section.
Her first job, after doing legal work for members of the United Auto Workers, was her first introduction to consumer law, but it stuck. “After getting trained in consumer law, I realized this area was what I have a passion for,” Fons said.
Fons said her biggest caseload is in the deceptive sales practice arena. “When any business or person engages in lying or deceiving someone to get you to buy something, I’m there,” said Fons, who has sued car dealerships, timeshare sellers, banks, financial service organizations, and big corporations. She also sues debt collectors who break the law in harassing debtors to collect a debt.
“These issues are out there enough that I wish there were 1,000 more consumer protection lawyers to take these cases on,” Fons said. She said she has taught law school and CLE courses to get lawyers interested in the area because of the “great need for it.”
“And it gets worse when the economy is bad,” Fons said. “I pride myself on the fact that I’m hired by folks who can’t afford an attorney.” But under consumer protection laws, if Fons successfully litigates a claim – in other words, proves the consumer protection law was violated – the company or person has to make the client whole and pay Fons a reasonable attorney fee. That’s how she is able to represent those who can’t afford it.
“Otherwise, a company with money could win every time by simply out-litigating,” Fons said. “The fee shifting levels the playing field. It’s really a nice way to practice law.”
Helping the immigrant population navigate the immigration process
Amanda Gennerman and Sarah Mazzie-Briscoe are dedicated to helping immigrants and their families navigate a legal system that can be overwhelming at times. That’s why their immigration law firm, Gennerman, Mazzie-Briscoe Law Group, has been named to receive the 2010 Pro Bono Award for an Organization or Association. The award is presented by the Legal Assistance Committee.
Mazzie-Briscoe recently left the firm for another job out-of-state, but Gennerman plans to continue the work the immigration duo started, which includes participation with the Community Immigration Law Center in Madison.
“We were getting a lot of calls from people who had general questions about the immigration process, or didn’t know where to turn to,” Gennerman said. “We decided there really should be more immigration resources in the community.”
But where legal aid services can, in some circumstances, provide the funding necessary to help low-income individuals with their legal needs, no funding exists for persons in need of legal services relating to immigration.
Both Gennerman and Mazzie-Briscoe were among those who developed the idea and eventually created the Community Immigration Law Center. Both served on the center’s board of directors, and Mazzie-Briscoe led as president until her recent departure.
The center, made up of volunteer lawyers, does not provide direct representation but provides referrals to immigration lawyers that can help after brief consultations. Walk-ins can get basic answers about the immigration process and other issues. The center is open twice a month for three hours.
“Most of the clients are hoping to become permanent residents and want to learn about the process. Others have questions about asylum applications. Unfortunately, we also see people that have no remedy, and just want to know what will happen if they are discovered, or a loved one is taken away by authorities,” Gennerman said.
Gennerman is a 2003 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law, and Mazzie-Briscoe graduated from DePaul College of Law in 2006. Both knew immigration law was their calling after participating in immigration clinics in law school.
“I was very interested in the overlap between criminal convictions and the impact it has on noncitizen clients,” said Gennerman, especially in light of Padia v. Kentucky. She has been interested in working with the State Public Defender’s Office, but said the SPD is not currently in a position to hire in-house immigration lawyers.
Nevertheless, Gennerman will continue her solo immigration practice, which she has been doing for seven years, and keep fighting to provide more resources for immigrants.
“Both Sarah and I believe that nobody should be left behind. We are just trying to do the best we can to contribute,” Gennerman said.
Other award winners
Other members of the State Bar will receive awards at the Member Recognition and Networking Celebration June 9. The following is a list of other award recipients:
Bench and Bar Committee: The Judge of the Year Award is awarded to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Carl Ashley, Milwaukee. The award recognizes an outstanding circuit court judge who has improved the judicial system during the past year by his or her leadership in advancing the quality of justice, judicial education, or innovative programs.
Bench and Bar Committee: The Lifetime Jurist Award is awarded to the Hon. Angela Bartell (retired), Madison, who served as a Dane County Circuit Court judge for more than 30 years. The award acknowledges the contributions of a jurist who has served more than one full term as a circuit court judge and has demonstrated outstanding, long-term judicial excellence and leadership toward improving the quality of justice.
Communications Committee: The Hon. Charles Dunn Author is awarded to Joseph Boucher, Madison, and Nathan Dosch, Milwaukee, for their December 2010 Wisconsin Lawyer article entitled, “E-Legacy: Estate Planning for Digital Assets.” The Communications Committee believed this article “provided an insight into a new and emerging area of the law that could have a huge impact for estate planning lawyers and their clients.”
Young Lawyers Division: The Young Lawyers Division Professional Achievement Award is presented to Sam Wayne, Madison. The award recognizes outstanding dedication and service to the legal profession and the community. Wayne is an active member of the Young Lawyer’s Division, and is involved with the Wills for Heroes program, among other programs.
Wisconsin Law Foundation: The Belle Case Lafollette Outstanding Service Award is awarded to Susan Hanson, Elm Grove. The Wisconsin Law Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting charitable and educational programs that promote public understanding of the law and improvement of the administration of justice. The award recognizes a lawyer who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the profession.
Health Law Section: The Health Law Attorney of the Year Award is awarded to Sarah Coyne, Madison. Sarah represents and advises health care providers (entities and individuals) and health plans on a variety of issues. The award recognizes a lawyer for contribution to the preservation and enhancement of the health and life of the people of Wisconsin.
Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee: The Hotline Firm of the Year is awarded to QBE the Americas. The Lawyer Hotline Program is a public service component of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service. Hotline attorney volunteers answer simple legal questions over the phone, allowing callers to better assess whether they wish to hire a lawyer or use the resource information provided to them. Ten Sun Prairie attorneys have contributed their time and expertise to the Lawyer Hotline program since 2006. From left: Jackie Thies, Matt Morrison, Jennifer Vernon, Chris Rendall, Ryan Olson, Bill Thielmann, Mike LaFond, Sheila Luken, Joe Decker, and Paul Graves. The QBE Regional Insurance office insures homes, autos and businesses in 40 states through a network of community-based agency partners.
Nonresident Lawyers Division: The Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD) Founders Award is awarded to Michael Remington, Washington D.C. The committee believed that Remington has been a “change agent for issues involving nonresident lawyers and government lawyers.”
Public Interest Law Section: The 2010 Outstanding Public Interest Law Student Award is awarded to Ashley Roth, Marquette University Law School, and Katherine Frigo, University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.
Wisconsin Lawyers’ Assistance Program: The 2010 WisLAP Volunteer of the Year Award is awarded to James Martz, Milwaukee. Martz has been working to assist lawyers for over 15 years, five years as chair of the Milwaukee Bar Lawyers Assistance Program.
Presidential Awards: Susan Collins, Patricia Struck, Nate Cade, Frank Remington, Frederick Kaftan, and Kim Haines will receive awards from State Bar President James Boll.