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Outstanding Mentor Award

The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) is for State Bar members under 36 years old or in their first five years of practice. The YLD provides leadership training and networking opportunities. It also encourages its members to be active in the State Bar, local and specialty bar associations, and communities. YLD presents the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award and Outstanding Mentor Award.

The Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes a Wisconsin attorney who has made an exceptional contribution to the life and career of a young attorney. The nominee must have six or more years of practice experience, be a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and have been in good standing with the State of Wisconsin for more than 12 months.

​​James Spella

This year’s Outstanding Mentor is James “Jim” Spella. Attorney Spella has been with Schloemer Law Firm, S.C. for nearly fifty years. He started at the firm in 1972, became a partner in 1975, and then the managing partner a few short years later. According to Jim’s colleagues, Jim has seen 29 attorneys “come and go” over his tenure at Schloemer Law and “every one of them has become a better attorney from their experiences working with [him].”

Why? Because Jim takes the time to make sure that every new attorney, paralegal, and staff member learns to conduct the business of law the “Schloemer way”: “to be responsive to clients and to make sure work meets the highest professional and ethical standards.” And when he gives an assignment to another attorney or paralegal, Jim always patiently takes the time to “explain the ‘why’ behind what he’s asking you to do, so you can learn and do it yourself the next time.” Jim never cuts corners, never shirks a responsibility, always puts his clients’ interests first, and leads by example.

That would explain why his nominators say, “His advice is relied upon by countless businesspeople, farmers, families, financial institutions, and other attorneys.” Jim holds degrees in both Accounting and Law, and over the years, he’s assisted hundreds of clients in estate and succession planning, business matters including organization and contracts, real estate, and the tax implications that can arise in all of these areas. His sense of obligation to his clients, the firm, and his family is “unmatched.” According to one legendary tale, Jim once cross country skied to the office during a Wisconsin snow storm so that the firm would remain open in case a client needed help.

Lest you think Jim spends all of his time working – his nominators took care to point out that as much as Jim sacrifices for his career, he “does even more for his family.” Jim is the father of six daughters, the grandfather of 17 grandchildren, and he never misses his standing weekly visit with his beloved mother.

The practice of law is always changing, but it appears that Jim has been a “steadfast, reliable, constant, and enduring” presence on all who’ve had the opportunity to work with and know him. We’re honored to join the numerous organizations who’ve recognized Jim’s contributions to his community and present him with the “2021 Outstanding Mentor Award.”

Watch the presentation of the Outstanding Mentor Award