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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    June 09, 2022


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    Mentor’s Influence Felt Long After Retirement

    Jim Shellow

    In “Jim Shellow and the Importance of Mentorship” (Wisconsin Lawyer, April 2022), Joseph Bugni wrote that a mentor is someone who cares for another person (usually younger), who protects the student with sage advice, and who strives to get the very best out of the student while helping navigate and overcome life’s trials.

    Bugni (affectionately known as “Bugs”) wrote that Jim Shellow, like all new lawyers, needed guidance and support during the early years of his practice. In the nearly six decades since, Shellow has become one of Wisconsin’s, and even the nation’s, most formidable criminal defense attorneys. His career is a tale of the pricelessness of mentoring, for the student and for the teacher.

    Readers couldn’t have agreed more. The following reader comments are posted to the article online. Read more comments at

    Reader: Today, young attorneys are still benefiting from Mr. Shellow’s legacy. His mentees of the past are the mentors of today, and we, the current mentees, are so grateful for the opportunity to learn his methods. May we someday find some small level of Mr. Shellow’s success in advocating for his clients and changing the criminal justice system for the better.

    Kevin M. Smith
    State Public Defenders Office, Janesville

    Reader: Joe Bugni’s article is a wonderful tribute to Jim’s great, enduring gift of his knowledge, his energy, his humor, and his quick mind to his mentees (myself included). Among his long list of invaluable contributions to criminal defense lawyers and the justice system generally, I treasure his constant capacity for challenging the many unfounded (and unfair) assumptions that he would find in the law, or in courtroom proceedings. And if those efforts did not succeed, he counseled us, as I fondly recall, to “play for the fumbles.”

    James A. Walrath
    Law Office of James A. Walrath LLC, Milwaukee

    Reader: What a terrific tribute to Shellow’s leadership, creativity, sensitivity, and bravery in lawyering. Amazing and inspiring. Thank you.

    Kathleen Quinn
    Attorney Kathleen M. Quinn LLC, Milwaukee

    Reader: Bugs’ article is wonderful. It captures so many phases in a complex man’s life. I have the pleasure of being Jim Shellow’s client, associate, partner, and, above all, friend. If there’s a bone I have to pick with the article, it is perhaps a wisp too serious. Each of the alums of Shellow & Shellow has his or her favorite stories, and the humorous ones are the best remembered. [Read more online.]

    Stephen M. Glynn
    Steve Glynn Lawyer, Milwaukee

    Reader: As defense attorneys, we all dream about winning big cases. Hopefully, we do that a few times in our career. But the legacy of being a great trial lawyer fades shortly after retirement. Everyone may have been talking about your trial for the weeks, months, or years following it – but most of the time even the “big” wins are lost in the sands of time.

    The legacy of being a great mentor remains long after retirement. Even though you aren’t practicing, you continue to influence justice through those you guided. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Atty. Shellow, but I have had the good fortune of working with and speaking to attorneys that he influenced (including Bugni, who put up with me as an intern for a year).

    This isn’t an easy job, and it takes a village. I’ve been lucky to work with good attorneys who were themselves lucky to work with good attorneys. And as my career progresses, I hope that someday some new attorney feels the same way about me.

    Jeffrey W. Jensen Jr.
    State Public Defenders Office, Waukesha

    Reader: I had a chance to watch Shellow in action in Dane County in 1993. It was an OWI, first offense, trial. Shellow presented his opening statement with such force and persuasion that “not guilty” seemed like the only possible verdict. Shellow introduced topics in the opening by saying, “during the next week of testimony….” The way he said it gave the impression that Shellow was ready to hammer away at the state’s case for a full week. By the end of Shellow’s opening, the prosecutor was so flustered and overwhelmed that, after a panicked meeting with the deputy DA, he offered to amend to reckless driving.

    Robert T. Ruth
    Robert T. Ruth Law Offices SC, Madison

    Reader: The remarkable thing about Jim is just how far his legacy reaches out past his own practice. I graduated from law school in 2019, so I wasn’t mentored by Jim personally; I’ve never even met him. But I’ve learned much from Jim because all my best mentors and teachers were mentored by Jim and still speak of him regularly. So even after all of these years, Jim’s legacy of excellence continues to grow and affect people he’s never even met. And I’m sure that Jim’s lessons will echo out long after his mentees retire.

    Chris Logel
    Pinix Law LLC, Milwaukee

    We Want to Hear from You! Submit a Letter to the Editor

    Wisconsin Lawyer provides a forum for members to express ideas, concerns, and opinions on law-related subjects. Send comments to (include “Letters” in the subject line), or mail to Wisconsin Lawyer “Letters,” P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158. Limit to 500 words. Writing guidelines available.

    Connect With Us Online. Post comments to articles online, and find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

    Lawyers Working on International Projects Can Further U.S. Foreign Policy

    global handshake

    John W. Vaudreuil, U.W. 1979, was a federal prosecutor in Wisconsin for 38 years, the final eight years as the U.S. attorney appointed by President Barack Obama. Since 2001, he has been involved with more than 100 international rule-of-law projects in 38 countries.

    In “Micro-diplomacy and the Lawyer’s Role in Foreign Policy, National Security, and the Rule of Law” (InsideTrack, April 18, 2022), Vaudreuil, writing about his experiences, said “There is a foreign policy role for the lawyer working internationally, whether teaching or working in the private or public sector. When abroad, we are the face of the United States. Respect other cultures and systems. Support the rule of law. Promote and protect fundamental rights and liberties. Build lasting friendships and partnerships. Micro-diplomacy works.”

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: Inspiring work toward fulfillment of our dreams of a just world. Your work carries forward the lifelong efforts of Ben Ferencz. There remains much to be done at home to motivate the State Bar of Wisconsin toward a more active role.

    James S. Thiel
    Thiel, Vu & Associates, Madison

    Honoring 50-Year Members in 2022

    Judge Charles Clevert

    In “50-Year Member: Former Federal District Court Judge Charles Clevert” (InsideTrack, April 20, 2022), State Bar legal writer Jeff M. Brown profiled the life and career of Judge Charles Clevert, pictured here with Celia Jackson during an event in February 2020 honoring Wisconsin’s pioneering Black lawyers. [For a full list of lawyers honored in 2022, see “Admitted in 1972: State Bar Celebrates 50-year Members” (InsideTrack, Feb. 16, 2022.)]

    Clevert grew up in Richmond, Va., the capital of the confederacy during the Civil War, and in the 1950s racial segregation remained the law of the land. Clevert spoke about his experience growing up in the Jim Crow South, how he became interested in pursuing a legal education, and his career in the law.

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: When I was a new lawyer back in the early 1980s, Judge Clevert was presiding over bankruptcy proceedings held in the Kenosha County Courthouse. I was new to the practice and was hired to handle a couple of routine Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Judge Clevert was very patient in reviewing my filings and in handling the hearings. I always remembered and admired him for his gracious and professional manner, and have always been happy to follow his many successes since.

    Duncan C. Delhey
    Gray & Associates LLP, New Berlin

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