Candidate for Judicial Council Representative
Margo S. Kirchner
Wisconsin Justice Institute Inc., Milwaukee
In addition to my experience as a current member of the Judicial Council, I bring the perspective of a nonprofit in-house attorney, municipal judge, and former federal judicial-branch attorney to the study of Wisconsin court practice, procedure, and administration. My knowledge of municipal-court and federal-court practice and procedure and my involvement with pro-se litigants are significant assets for service on the Judicial Council. During my first term on the Council I served on the Evidence and Civil Procedure Committee; I also helped draft procedural guidelines for the Council regarding reviews of pending legislation.
I look for practical solutions, and I prefer plain language rather than complicated legalese. I will advocate for clear and understandable rules and procedures for the benefit of attorneys and pro se litigants. I welcome suggestions from State Bar members on areas of practice and procedure that the Judicial Council should study.
As the Judicial Council presently is not funded and operates without staff, its members must conduct research, draft proposed rule and petition language, and advocate for the Council. I am committed to that important work and to the Judicial Council’s future.
I am honored to be nominated for a second term on the Judicial Council, and I look forward to serving as your representative for the next three years.
Margo Kirchner is general counsel and development director of Wisconsin Justice Initiative, Inc., (WJI) a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the Wisconsin justice system and educate the public about important justice-related issues. In April 2020, Ms. Kirchner was elected as municipal judge in the Village of Shorewood; she serves in the part-time judicial position in addition to her work for WJI.
Prior to joining WJI in 2017, Ms. Kirchner spent 23 years in public service in the federal courts, including one year as law clerk to the Honorable Terence T. Evans in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and over a decade as career law clerk to the Honorable Charles N. Clevert, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Law Journal named Ms. Kirchner as a Women in Law Award winner in 2010, and she was inducted as a Fellow of the Wisconsin Law Foundation in 2017. In 2019, the Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) presented Ms. Kirchner with its Founders Award, given to an AWL member who has significantly contributed to the advancement of women in the legal profession and whose career demonstrates dedication to the highest levels of professional ethics and excellence.
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan Law School, Ms. Kirchner moved to Milwaukee in 1991 for a district-court clerkship with Judge Evans. Ms. Kirchner then practiced for three years at the law firm Gammage & Burnham PLC in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ms. Kirchner returned to Wisconsin for good in 1996 to clerk for Judge Evans in the Seventh Circuit. She thereafter served as law clerk for a series of federal district judges: the Honorable Robert W. Warren, the Honorable Lynn Adelman, the Honorable William C. Griesbach, and Judge Clevert.
Ms. Kirchner served on the Eastern District’s Local Rules Committee in 2009 and 2010 and co-wrote A Guide to Civil Judgments for use by district-court clerk’s office and chambers staff.
Trained and certified as a mediator by the Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies, Ms. Kirchner mediated cases on a pro bono basis for the Metro Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program for ten years.
She chairs the Association for Women Lawyers Foundation board and is a past president of AWL. She is a past president of and violist with the Concord Chamber Orchestra and served on the board of the nonprofit Milestones Programs for Children.
Ms. Kirchner is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, AWL, the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, and the Thomas E. Fairchild Chapter of the Inns of Court.