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Back to State Bar 2020 Election Officer Candidates.


Michael May Candidate for President-elect

Michael P. May

City Attorney, Madison

Platform Statement

I’m Michael P. May. I’m running for State Bar President-elect. I ask for your vote.

I am a native of Madison. I am the City Attorney for Madison, with 16 years’ experience as a government attorney. Before I was appointed City Attorney in 2004, I spent 25 years in the private practice of law at the Boardman Law Firm in Madison. In both of those practices, I had managerial responsibilities.

The State Bar does a number of things very well, but it faces a number of challenges. I have the experience to work with diverse personalities to come to solutions that are both practical and principled. I would bring that experience to the State Bar of Wisconsin.

As head of the State Bar, I would emphasize:

  • Listening to the members to hear their needs and concerns. This is a membership-focused organization. We should never lose sight of the need to first listen, and then act.
  • Maintaining the strength of the State Bar. This is an excellent organization, and we have to maintain the best things the Bar does, such as CLE and networking opportunities. In order to meet this goal, we have to continue to focus on the finances of the State Bar. The Bar has made a lot of progress in recent years to cut costs while keeping good programming. We must continue to focus on maintaining the strength of the bar in light of the changing demographics of the membership.
  • Continuing and expanding efforts to increase the diversity of the Bar. While the Bar’s demographics are becoming more diverse, the simple fact is that we need more women and people of color as lawyers, and as Bar leaders. As a person who has increased the diversity of the Office of the City Attorney, I know this is not an easy task. It takes continuous effort to get results.
  • Continuing and expanding wellness programs for lawyers. The health issues of lawyers are legion, from depression to substance abuse to dementia. We need to keep up our efforts at wellness.
  • Outreach to government and public interest lawyers. The State Bar is viewed very differently by the private bar and government and public interest lawyers. The Bar needs to expand its outreach to these groups.

I believe the primary role of the State Bar of Wisconsin is to provide services to its members, and to strengthen the legal profession in Wisconsin.


I’m a native of Madison. I attended Holy Name Seminary high school (1972), UW-Madison School of Journalism (1975, Phi Beta Kappa), and the University of Wisconsin Law School (1979, Cum Laude, Order of the Coif). 

In 1979, I joined the firm of Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field (now Boardman & Clark) as an associate, and later became a partner. I did a variety of civil law over the years, but eventually focused on civil and administrative litigation for the firm’s municipal and business clients. After 25 years, I was Chair of the firm’s Executive Committee, in charge of management. 

In 2004, I was appointed as City Attorney for the City of Madison. For 16 years, I have advised Madison’s mayors, elected officials and city employees on a wide range of legal issues, along with managing an office that prosecutes ordinance violations, maintains the City’s code of ordinances, and represents the City in litigation and contract negotiations. Three different mayors have reappointed me as City Attorney. As City Attorney, I also am in charge of managing a 16-lawyer government law office.


State Bar of Wisconsin

  • Administrative and Local Government Law Section; Board of Directors, 1993-1999; Chair, 1994-1995
  • Energy and Telecommunications Section: Board of Directors, 1999-2004; Chair, 2000-2001
  • Government Lawyers Division; Board of Directors, 2016 - present
  • Litigation Section
  • Media-Law Relations Committee, 1983-1993
  • Senior Lawyers Division; Board of Directors, 2019 – present

Bar Memberships

  • United States Supreme Court
  • US Courts of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit, the 7th Circuit and the 8th Circuit
  • US District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court


  • Member, University of Wisconsin Law School Board of Visitors, 2005-present
  • Member, Downtown Madison Rotary; Board of Directors, 2017-2019; Board of Trustees of Downtown Rotary Foundation, 2014-2107
  • Member, International Municipal Lawyers Association, 2004-present


  • Married to Briony Jean Foy, with three grown children and one grandchild, and gardens that need tending.