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  • April 05, 2023

    Meet These 15 Leaders in the Legal Profession

    They are members of the legal community who make a difference – by mentoring others, offering their pro bono services, and going the extra mile. Congratulations to these 15 award recipients.
    MRC 2023 collage

    April 5, 2023 – Join the State Bar of Wisconsin in celebrating those who make a difference in the legal profession and in their communities. Recognized by their peers and colleagues, these jurists, lawyers, law students, and legal workers are celebrated for their leadership.

    Since 1993, State Bar members have gathered to honor the contributions of those in Wisconsin’s legal community. These award recipients will be honored in person at the Member Recognition Celebration during the State Bar Annual Meeting & Conference in June in Milwaukee.

    Join us in celebrating these leaders who are dedicated to improving the practice of law and the administration of justice in Wisconsin, and serving their communities.

    Judge Ramona Gonzalez: Lifetime Jurist

    Judge Ramona GonzalezJudge Ramona Gonzalez of LaCrosse County Circuit Court is the 2023 recipient of the Bench and Bar Committee's Lifetime Jurist Award. The award recognizes jurists who, during their tenure on the bench, were fair and impartial, demonstrated high ideals and personal character along with outstanding, long-term judicial service.

    Judge Gonzalez’s high ideals and judicial competence have earned her a high level of respect and recognition within the La Crosse legal community and community at large, say those who nominated her.

    Judge Gonzalez has demonstrated outstanding, long-term judicial service during her 27 years as a presiding judge and has been committed to advancing judicial leadership and public service. Through her work with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Judge Gonzalez has worked hard to improve national policy and system practices affecting children, families, and survivors of violence.

    Judge Richard Radcliffe: Judge of the Year

    Judge Richard RadcliffeJudge Richard Radcliffe of Monroe County Circuit Court is the recipient of the Bench and Bar Committee’s Judge of the Year Award. The award recognizes an outstanding circuit court judge who has improved the judicial system during the past year through leadership in advancing the quality of justice, judicial education, or innovative programs.

    On the bench since January 2018, Judge Radcliffe is honored as a leader in the judicial system and in his community. He treats parties in every case, no matter how big or small, with respect, patience and fairness, and knows the value of maintaining control of the courtroom to ensure an accurate record.

    Judge Radcliffe has been instrumental in the implementation and success of Monroe County’s drug treatment court program that began in January 2020 – just before the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been a vocal leader and educator about treatment court programs and the effect they have on society.

    Judge Carl Ashley: Diversity & Inclusion Trailblazer Award

    Judge Carl Ashley  headshotJudge Carl Ashley, Chief Judge of Wisconsin's First Judicial District,​ is this year’s recipient of the Diversity & Inclusion Trailblazer Award. The award, from the Diversity & Inclusion Oversight Committee, celebrates an individual who contributes to and enhances diversity and inclusion within the Wisconsin legal profession.

    Since Judge Ashley began his career as a lawyer in 1983, he has been a staunch advocate for more diversity and inclusion in Wisconsin’s legal profession. As a champion of diversity, he has served as a “go to” representative of the minority bar and, as a result, has been brought into many discussions on how to advance the cause of increasing diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. His longstanding commitment and visibility have done wonders for the cause of diversity.

    In 2012, Judge Ashley was selected as chair of the State Bar Diversity Task Force, studying the status of diversity in the Wisconsin legal profession and developing an action plan. The plan now serves as a template for State Bar programming and commitment. Judge Ashley served as chair of the State Bar Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee from 2014 to 2021. Because of the comprehensive scope of the plan, the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee is now a model for other states working toward the same goal.

    Kelsey Mullins: Charles Dunn Wisconsin Lawyer Author Award

    Kelsey MullinsPresented by the State Bar Communications Committee, which serves as the editorial board for Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, the Hon. Charles Dunn Author Award recognizes writing excellence in the publication. The award was named in honor of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s first chief justice.

    The 2022 Charles Dunn Award goes to Kelsey Mullins, author of “Highlighting a Hidden Legal Issue: Transnational Marriage Abandonment,” 95 Wis. Law. 22-27 (November 2022). Mullins, U.W. 2021, practices law with End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin in Madison. She focuses on legal issues affecting survivors of domestic violence, in particular immigrant survivors and survivors of human trafficking.

    Our state’s immigrant and refugee communities face unique legal challenges. This article’s explanation of transnational marriage abandonment highlighted an issue all Wisconsin lawyers should be aware of and gave us some practical tips on how to use legal strategies to empower survivors.

    Jennifer Binkley: Pro Bono Attorney of the Year

    Jennifer BinkleyJennifer Binkley, director of the Family Court Clinic at U.W. Law School, is the recipient of this year’s Pro Bono Attorney of the YearAward. The award, presented by the State Bar’s Legal Assistance Committee, recognizes dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to low-income individuals or those who develop innovative ways to deliver volunteer legal services. This year, the committee presents the award to an attorney whose entire career has been dedicated to helping others and who has given back to the community in numerous ways with the goal of increasing access to justice for Dane County’s residents.

    Under Binkley’s leadership as chair since 2004, the Dane County Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee (DLSC) has worked to develop, maintain, and coordinate pro bono and pro se projects in Dane County, including pro se clinics and attorney training opportunities that benefit the underserved. Binkley is also manager of the Veterans Law Clinic, formed by the U.W. Law School and now administered by the DCBA, making sure that volunteers were available and expanding locations where veterans can be served.

    Binkley is known as a leader who brings dedicated people together for a greater cause, and all with integrity, dedication, and good humor.

    Rural Access to Justice: Pro Bono Firm/Organization of the Year

    Rural Access to Justice Rural Access to Justice Rural Access to Justice, Inc., of Waupaca, is the recipient of the Pro Bono Firm/Organization of the Year from the State Bar’s Legal Assistance Committee. The award recognizes outstanding pro bono service.

    This year’s award recognizes this small nonprofit firm in Waupaca County, which started taking clients in 2018, as an outstanding example of serving Wisconsin’s underserved communities through the private sector. They not only routinely take pro bono and reduced rate cases from Judicare Legal Aid, but make serving their community a factor in every client they work with.

    Led by attorney Robert Forseth, the firm’s executive director, and attorney Amanda Forseth, Rural Access to Justice covers a wide range of legal matters and services, including criminal defense, family law, estate planning​, real property, and other civil law. They offer sliding-scale services to clients based on their ability to pay.

    Eugenia "Genie" Hedlund: Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney

    Eugenia HedlundThe 2023 Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney is Eugenia "Genie" Hedlund of Judicare Legal Aid, Wausau. The award, presented by the State Bar Public Interest Law Section, recognizes a lawyer who embodies the elements of the award: demonstrating a lifetime commitment to working in the public interest, a commitment to volunteerism beyond employment responsibilities, a selfless commitment to helping their community.

    In the 45 years she has practiced law, Hedlund has been a dedicated voice for marginalized individuals. Since 2013, she has led the Judicare Legal Aid Native American Victim’s Holistic Legal Services Project (the VAWA Project). Hedlund represents Native Americans statewide who are victims or survivors of domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual assault or stalking. She is also a member of Wisconsin’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force which examines the factors that contribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women and the responses from state, tribal, and federal organizations.

    Lue Yang: Ryan Klesh Outstanding Public Interest Legal Worker

    Lue YangLue Yang, a paralegal with Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc., Green Bay, is the recipient of this year’s Public Interest Law Section’s Ryan Klesh Outstanding Public Interest Legal Worker Award. The award recognizes an individual who captures the essence of the late Ryan Klesh: selflessness, work ethic, kindness, intellect, authenticity, and humor in working to seek justice for low-income neighbors, family, or friends.

    Those who know him say Yang is selfless, committed, unfailingly kind, and incredibly hardworking. His legal knowledge is unmatched by even the most experienced public benefits attorney, constantly sharing his time and expertise with his colleagues, helping them to be better advocates for their clients.

    With Legal Action for more than 34 years, Yang primarily works on public benefits matters, helping people obtain and protect their essential basic needs – food, shelter, and health care. An immigrant as a teenager from Laos, he is a leader in the local Hmong community in Brown County and beyond, and helps Legal Action serve its Hmong clients. He has spent decades working steadfastly for thousands of low-income people in Wisconsin.

    Anu Chudasama: Nonresident Lawyers Division Founder’s Award

    Anu ChudasamaAnu Chudasama, a shareholder and litigator with Bassford Remele PA, of Minneapolis, is the recipient of the Nonresident Lawyers Division Founder’s Award for her many years of service to the Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD). This award recognizes a nonresident member who has brought positive change to the division and has actively participated in State Bar activities for many years.

    As NRLD president from 2020-21 during the height of the pandemic, Chudasama worked tirelessly to keep the sprawling coast-to-coast division members connected through remote programming. This work included, following the death of George Floyd, coordinating the NRLD board to assemble a panel of speakers for a CLE program to discuss racial justice, diversity and inclusion, and disparate incarceration. Chudasama has also done extensive work for the State Bar of Wisconsin, including chairing the Board of Governors' Governance Committee, where she also helped facilitate discussions on diversity.

    Michael May: Government Lawyers Division Grant F. Langley Service Award and Senior Lawyers Division Leonard L. Loeb Award

    Michael MayThe late Michael May is the recipient of the 2023 Grant F. Langley Service Award from the Government Lawyers Division (GLD). The Langley Service Award is presented to an attorney with accomplishments in the legal profession who serves not only the government and citizens, but also other government attorneys. This attorney is someone involved in activities that increase the public’s respect for government lawyers while promoting government legal work as a rewarding career choice.

    May is additionally the recipient of the 2023 Leonard L. Loeb Award from the Senior Lawyers Division for his lifetime of exceptional contributions to his community and to the goal of justice for all Wisconsin citizens. This award is given to a senior lawyer who has made significant contributions to the legal community, shown respect for the legal system, demonstrated a love for the law, demonstrated high ideals and personal character, participated in organizations to improve communities, and participated in state and local bar activities.

    May passed away Oct. 3, 2022, after an impressive and impactful career representing municipal clients. He spent 25 years in private practice, first an associate, then as partner, and then managing partner at Boardman, Suhr, Curry and Field, where his practice focused on municipal law and municipal utilities.

    From 2004 to 2020, May was Madison city attorney. He instituted many policies, practices, and procedures that have had a lasting impact of its operations and mission. As city attorney, he is credited with saving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile with a five word legal opinion, “You know, I don’t know.”

    On his retirement in 2020 as Madison city attorney, May returned to Boardman Clark law firm, where he continued to represent municipalities and mentor younger attorneys. In both his private and public sector practice he guided countless attorneys to develop their legal skills and their careers. He was generous with his time and his wisdom, both with his own team and with municipal attorneys around the state.

    Throughout his career, he was recognized for his expertise in a variety of municipal law topics and issues including public utilities, ethics codes, and parliamentary procedure. He worked through legal issues and questions deeply and thoughtfully, and was an unflappable and steady counselor advising city officials and staff in both private settings and public meetings.

    May believed in giving back to the legal profession and served in a variety of roles with the State Bar, including as a member and as chair of both the GLD and the SLD boards. He also served on the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Ethics, was a Wisconsin Law Foundation Fellow, and the Madison City Attorney’s Office participated in the State Bar Diversity Clerkship Program under his leadership.

    Those who knew May became familiar with his kindness, thoughtfulness, deep intellect, and sense of humor. He was an excellent ambassador for the legal profession and government lawyers, and will continue to have an impact through the lessons he taught and the careers he influenced.

    Jason Luczak: Young Lawyers Division Outstanding Mentor Award

    Jason LuczakJason Luczak, a partner with Gimbel Reilly Guerin Brown LLP, Milwaukee, is the recipient of the Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Mentor Award. The award pays tribute to a Wisconsin attorney with six or more years of practice who has made an exceptional contribution to the life and career of a young attorney.

    Luczak has been instrumental in teaching and preparing future lawyers for their careers. His willingness to mentor young attorneys has greatly benefited the legal community. He has been educating law students at Marquette University as an adjunct professor and a coach for the Marquette National Moot Court Competition for over a decade. He is always willing to work extra hours and put in the time to shape young litigators into legal forces, and his dedication to the future attorney and young practicing attorney is relentless.

    Lisa Procaccio: Young Lawyers Division Outstanding Young Lawyer Award

    Lisa ProcaccioLisa Procaccio, assistant corporation counsel for Milwaukee County, is the 2023 Young Lawyers Division’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year. This award is given to young lawyers who make an impact in their practice areas and in service to the State Bar and to their community.

    Procaccio zealously and expertly advocates for the county's most vulnerable residents on guardianship matters for adults with disabilities and mental illness. She is the primary appellate attorney on the county's mental health commitment team, where she works tirelessly to make sure that Milwaukee County residents are provided the essential services that keep both individuals at risk and the community at large safe and well. She serves the legal community in her work with bench and bar to formulate new rules and approaches that benefit all in the mental health arena in which she practices.

    Tessa Henson and Taylor Dahlke-Forman: Outstanding Public Interest Law Students

    Tessa Henson Taylor Dahlke-FormanThe Public Interest Law Section honors law students who demonstrate a commitment to public interest work, to volunteer work or activism in their community, and to helping others in their communities. This year, the section honors Tessa Henson from U.W. Law School Class of 2023 and Taylor Dahlke-Forman, Marquette Law School Class of 2023.

    Henson is a leader with a strong commitment to many public interest endeavors, and her work demonstrates an exceptional aptitude for research, writing, and persuasive presentations. She worked June 2021 through May 2022 in the U.W. Law School Neighborhood Law Clinic (NLC), which provides direct representation to underrepresented individuals in housing and employment cases.

    In June 2022, she joined Legal Action of Wisconsin, where she has shown great dedication and compassion for the clients she works with. Her work is invaluable in assisting individuals experiencing economic hardships around housing, where she demonstrates a high level of competency for legal aid advocacy.

    Dahlke-Forman’s law school career demonstrates her commitment to working with marginalized people, including people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and survivors of trauma. As a law student, she:

    • interned with Legal Action of Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, and Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee;

    • volunteered with Legal Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Justice Center, and the Marquette Estate Planning Clinic; and

    • received a Public Interest Law fellowship for the summer of 2022;

    She has accepted a staff attorney position with Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee's Health and Wealth unit upon graduation.

    Join Us at the Annual Meeting & Conference in June in Milwaukee

    AMC 2023

    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 15, at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

    The celebration takes place at the State Bar Annual Meeting & Conference. Register now to choose from more than 26 CLE sessions covering top trends, hot topics, and enduring advice for today’s lawyers.

    In addition, featured plenary speakers, the Legal Expo, networking luncheons, the Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony, the All-Conference Party will help you connect, learn, and relax.

    Reserve your spot today!

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