April 18, 2018 – Recognized by their peers and colleagues, these judges, lawyers, law firms, and law students are honored for making a difference in Wisconsin and the world.
Join the State Bar of Wisconsin in honoring 17 award recipients at the Member Recognition Celebration at on Thursday, June 21, at the State Bar 2018 Annual Meeting & Conference in Lake Geneva.
Lifetime Jurist: Hon. Jeffery Kremers
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffery Kremers receives the State Bar of Wisconsin Bench and Bar Committee Lifetime Jurist Award. The award recognizes a jurist who, during their tenure on the bench, was fair and impartial, demonstrated high ideals and personal character, and demonstrated outstanding, long-term judicial service.
“Judge Kremers has not only served our judicial branch of government in the words of the award’s compliments,” said Judge Maxine White. “He has through his works ensured its independence; represented its capacity for a high level of discipline in the law; instructed locally, statewide and nationally showcasing the highest level of scholarship; and championed the judiciary’s inherent ‘duty’ as the arbiter of public safety and our human pathway to peaceful resolution of discord.
“Because of the leadership of Judge Kremers, Milwaukee County’s criminal justice system serves as a model nationwide. Jeff’s motto is, ‘we can always do better,’” said Judge White.
Judge of the Year: Hon. Kathryn Foster
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Kathryn Foster is the Bench and Bar Committee Judge of the Year Award recipient. 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.
“Judge Foster has been a statewide and national voice on the creation and use of treatment courts,” said Judge William Domina. In 2006, Judge Foster advocated for and began the Waukesha County Alcohol Treatment Court focusing on individuals with multiple drunken driving convictions. This program has served more than 200 individuals and is nationally recognized for reducing drunk driving recidivism.
Judge Foster was a driving force behind creating the Waukesha County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council bringing together political and professional leaders to ensure better decisions affecting the criminal justice system. She was the council’s first chairperson, from 2003 to 2006. Because of her leadership, she has served on the board of the Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals (2007-16), including as its president (2013).
“Her work helped set the course for the creation of drug, family, veteran, mental health, and healthy baby treatment courts across Wisconsin,” said Judge Domina.
Gordon Sinykin Award of Excellence: Hon. Brian Blanchard
Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV Judge Brian Blanchard, Madison, is the 2018 recipient of the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Gordon Sinykin Award of Excellence for his dedicated service to the State Bar’s public education programs, including the High School Mock Trial and Our Courts programs.
This award recognizes a lawyer, law firm, or group of lawyers for their work on an individual law-related education or public service project.
Outstanding Mentor: John P. Starkweather
John Starkweather, a partner in the Real Estate Practice Group at Boardman & Clark LLP in Madison, is the 2018 recipient of the Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Mentor Award.
Starkweather is an “incredible resource” for new attorneys, says Kathryn Pfefferle of Boardman & Clark. “He is a natural mentor – providing insightful and wise advice on how to navigate our profession and maximize value to our clients.” Read more about John Starkweather.
Outstanding Young Lawyer: Seep Paliwal
Seep Paliwal of Community Justice Inc., Madison, is the Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year. This award is given to a young lawyer who has made an impact in his or her practice area, in service to the State Bar of Wisconsin, and in service to the community.
A 2015 graduate of U.W. Law School, Paliwal not only provides family law representation to indigent clients, she recently launched two pro bono initiatives, and splits her time between providing direct representation to clients and training lawyers and law students in the Madison area to perform pro bono work. Find out more about Paliwal.
Hon. Charles Dunn Author Award: Rachel Monaco-Wilcox and Daria Mueller
The Dunn Award winners are Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, CEO and founder of LOTUS Legal Clinic, Milwaukee, and Daria Mueller, a Ph.D. student at U.W.-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. They are recognized for their article, “Under the Radar: Human Trafficking in Wisconsin,” in the October 2017 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer™ magazine.
“Under the Radar” offers valuable insights on how lawyers can be more vigilant and perceptive about trafficking victims, says Brandon Evans on behalf of the State Bar Communications Committee. “The authors balance the human cost and reality of the phenomenon with thorough guidance for attorneys who want to help fight trafficking and its range of legal consequences for victims.”
The award, presented by the Communications Committee, recognizes writing excellence in the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine.
Hotline Attorney of the Year: Shannon Conlin
The Hotline Attorney of the Year goes to Madison attorney Shannon Conlin (formerly Shannon Buttchen) of the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), Madison. Conlin has coordinated the Lawyer Hotline through her tenure at three different law firms and now with her colleagues at the DOJ. She is diligent in seeking out volunteers, and when none are available, she makes the Hotline calls herself.
The award is presented to an individual or group that is dedicated to building a team of attorney volunteers, responding to client questions, and being available for difficult or out-of-the-ordinary queries for an extended period of time.
This award is presented by the Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: Brenda Lewison
The Pro Bono Attorney of the Year is awarded to Brenda Lewison of the Law Office of Arthur Heitzer, Milwaukee. Lewison has volunteered with Legal Action of Wisconsin more than 20 years, where she provided pro bono legal assistance to more than 99 clients and volunteered more than 395 hours.
Lewison also helped implement Legal Action’s Eviction Defense Project at the Milwaukee County Courthouse in 2017, and is one of the top volunteers on Wisconsin Free Legal Answers, an online free legal clinic run by volunteer lawyers and sponsored by the ABA. Lewison responded to more than 150 questions in 2017, almost one-third of the questions answered.
The award, presented by the Legal Assistance Committee, recognizes outstanding pro bono service.
Public Education Volunteer of the Year: Phyllis Santacroce
The award for Public Education Volunteer of the Year goes to Phyllis Santacroce of Nicolet High School, Glendale, for her dedication to law-related education. An attorney and high school teacher, she volunteered for many years as a mock trial coach. Most recently, Santacroce has put extensive hours into creating a new program, Court Eye, which examines a Wisconsin Supreme Court case in detail. She created materials for teachers to use in their classrooms.
The Public Education Committee’s award honors an attorney who has demonstrated excellence in promoting and supporting statewide efforts to educate the public, encourage understanding of and respect for the legal system, and foster appreciation of the rights and responsibilities of all persons under the law.
Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney: Phil Rosenkranz
The award is given to Phil Rosenkranz, who dedicated his life’s work to serving those less fortunate. Rosenkranz practiced in taxation and bankruptcy law at Legal Aid Society in Milwaukee from 1995 until his untimely death in 2017. Rosenkranz helped secure a grant to create the Low-income Tax Clinic (LITC), serving as its director from 2001-17. He helped hundreds of clients statewide with federal and state tax issues. He also implemented a bankruptcy project that helped countless people get a fresh start with their finances and their life.
This award recognizes a lawyer who demonstrates a selfless, lifetime commitment to working in the public interest, both inside and outside the field of law.
Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker: Golla Calvillo
Golla Calvillo of Legal Action of Wisconsin, Racine is the recipient of the Public Interest Law Section’s Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award. The award recognizes an individual who captures the essence of Ryan Klesh's selflessness, work ethic, and humor in working to seek justice for low-income neighbors, family, or friends.
Since 1995, Calvillo has worked at Legal Action of Wisconsin as a paralegal, where she is “the first to jump in and lend a hand when there is a deadline or project that comes up,” writes nominator Amanda Aubrey. “She is selfless, generous with both her time and heart, kind, a consummate professional, and dedicated to service.”
Outstanding Public Interest Law Students: Hannah Richerson and Jacob Haller
When Hannah Richerson was a 1L at the U.W. Law School, she revived the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and served as its president. She also has assisted with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Richerson is concurrently pursuing a Ph.D. in Environment and Resources, and is an active volunteer outside of law school.
Jacob Haller, Marquette University Law School, donates his time to Milwaukee Justice Center’s family law forms clinic and the domestic violence injunction hearings project, along with a variety of law programs focused on youth. He graduates in May with honors for completing more than 500 hours of pro bono work.
Public interest awards are presented by the Public Interest Law Section.
Government Lawyers Division Service: Stephen Nick
The Government Lawyers Division’s inaugural Service Award, presented to a division member with at least five years of service as a government lawyer, goes to Stephen Nick, who has served as Eau Claire’s city attorney for more than 16 years.
Nick’s contributions are a significant reason why state and national news outlets describe Eau Claire as a model for redevelopment and job creation. Nick has demonstrated a unique ability to negotiate collaborative agreements with parties that have different interests. He has helped guide the growth and development of Eau Claire by negotiating agreements with neighboring communities.
The recipient provides services not only to the government and citizens, but also to other government attorneys, and is involved in activities that increase the public’s respect for government lawyers while promoting government legal work as a rewarding career choice.
Nonresident Lawyers Division Founder’s Award: Steven H. Schuster
Steven H. Schuster, U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Transit Administration, Washington, D.C., is recipient of the Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD) Founder’s Award. Schuster has worked to advance the interests of nonresident Wisconsin lawyers through his position as secretary of the NRLD board, where he worked with NRLD leadership and board, with local chapter presidents and liaisons, and with the State Bar president. His commitment to NRLD stems from his desire to ensure that nonresident Wisconsin lawyers continue to have an active presence and influence within the State Bar.
This award recognizes a nonresident member who has brought positive change to the NRLD and has actively participated in State Bar activities for many years.
Leonard L. Loeb Award: Irvin B. Charne
Milwaukee attorney Irvin B. Charne is the recipient of the Senior Lawyers Division’s Leonard L. Loeb Award for his lifetime of exceptional contributions to his community and to the goal of justice for all Wisconsin citizens. The award recognizes the work of a senior lawyer whose outstanding leadership has advanced the fundamental goals of the legal system.
Charne’s many honors reflect not only his brilliance as a lawyer but also his integrity, commitment to public service and humanity. He always believed passionately that everyone deserved zealous representation and that representation should be available regardless of ability to pay. Those who practiced with him know that his professional and personal lives were characterized by the highest ethical standards and unquestioned integrity. Charne passed away Jan. 10, 2018, at the age of 95.
From school desegregation and civil rights cases to Indian treaty rights to environmental protection matters, Charne's professional success reflected a passion for zealous representation coupled with unwavering civility. Find out more about Charne.
Join Us at the Annual Meeting & Conference in June in Lake Geneva
Want to celebrate a friend, family member, or colleague being honored at the Member Recognition Celebration? Join us for this free event on Thursday, June 21, at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva.
The celebration takes place at the State Bar Annual Meeting & Conference. Register now to earn up to 12 CLE credits from 24 separate CLE sessions, hear two plenary speakers, visit the Legal Expo, join the networking luncheons, celebrate at the Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony, and enjoy the All-Conference Party.