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Sarah Zylstra Candidate for Judicial Council Representative

Sarah Zylstra

Boardman & Clark LLP, Madison​

Platform Statement

I thank the State Bar’s Nominating Committee for the opportunity to run for a second term on the Judicial Council. I have been a trial lawyer for 20 years and believe the Judicial Council’s work is important to the administration of justice. For those who are not as familiar with the Judicial Council, it is a 21-member body whose responsibilities are to study and make recommendations relating to court pleading, practice and procedure, as well as the administration and operation of the courts. The Judicial Council is comprised of judges, district attorneys, legislators and legislative staff, law school personnel, citizens, and three members of the State Bar.

I believe my background as a commercial and insurance defense litigator who has litigated numerous matters throughout the state and federal courts, including jury trials, makes me well suited to be one of the three State Bar members. I will draw upon my experience in providing the perspective of practicing litigators on issues that the Council considers.

On a personal note, as one of nine children, I know how to work with others and to present contrary views in a respectful manner. I am eager to use my talents to promote collegiality, while at the same time tackling the important issues that face our legal community and our citizens. I would be honored to have your vote to serve on the Judicial Council.



  • University of Wisconsin Law School, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, University of Wisconsin Law Review
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison, M.A. in Public Affairs & Public Administration
  • Mount Holyoke College, cum laude, B.A. Political Science

Judicial Clerkships

  • Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Patience D. Roggensack, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV

Prior and Current Bar Involvement

  • Judicial Council
  • Wisconsin State Bar’s representative for Federal Rules of Practice, Procedure, and Evidence
  • State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section, Board of Directors
  • Past President of the Western District of Wisconsin Bar Association
  • Past President of Western District Bar Association Pro Bono Fund, Inc.
  • Past President of the Dane County Bar Association
  • Member of Dane County Bar Association Program Committee
  • James E. Doyle Chapter of the American Inns of Court, Master of the Bench

Prior and Current Leadership, Community Activities and Professional Membership

  • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
  • The American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Wisconsin Law Foundation, Fellow
  • President, Mount Holyoke Club of Madison
  • Past Secretary, Leadership Greater Madison Alumni Association
  • Past Treasurer and Secretary of YWCA Board of Directors

Honors and Distinctions

  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent rating
  • Selected as one of the Women in the Law by the Wisconsin Law Journal, 2013
  • The Business Forum Athena Award Nominee, 2010
  • Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, Employment Law, Litigation and Women in the Law
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers

Presentations, Publications, & Contributions

  • Author, “COVID-19 Impacts on CLE Reporting: Be Aware of the Temporary Rules,” State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section Blog, October 10, 2020
  • Author, “Cattau and Pleading Standards: Comments from the Wisconsin Supreme Court,” State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section Blog, November 12, 2019
  • Author, “Appellate Filers Beware: Electronic Changes to the Record On Appeal” State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section Blog, November 29, 2018, reprinted in State Bar of Wisconsin InsideTrackTM, December 5, 2018
  • Speaker, “Recent Changes to the Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure,” State Bar Annual Meeting, June 22, 2018
  • Author, “The Rules They Are A-Changin,’” State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section Blog, February 20, 2018
  • Author, “Objections to Form, Foundation, and Instructions Not to Answer: Do You Know the Deposition Rules?” State Bar of Wisconsin Litigation Section Blog, May 15, 2017, reprinted in InsideTrack, June 7, 2017
  • Speaker, “The Attorney Client-Privilege in the Real World: Not as Broad as You Think,” Dane County Bar Association, May 26, 2015
  • Author, monthly column on various topics, Dane County Bar Association newsletter, June 2014-June 2015
  • Author, “Are Big Changes to the Federal Civil Rules on the Horizon?,” Western District Bar Association Newsletter, October 2013
  • Speaker, “The Civil Side of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: An Emerging Tort in Business & Employment Litigation,” Civil Trial Counsel of Wisconsin, April 18, 2008
  • Speaker, “The Civil Side of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: An Employer’s Friend or Foe?” Dane County Bar Association, January 8, 2008
  • Author & Speaker, “New Federal Rules and Preservation of Electronically Stored Information,” April 2007
  • Co-author, “The Judicial Truth About Cats and Dogs,” Western District Bar Association Newsletter, April 2007
  • Author, “The Price of Asking Too Much,” Western District Bar Association Newsletter, February 2006
  • Author, “The Seventh Circuit, ‘Gradual Awareness’ and the Statute of Limitations: What Now?,” Western District Bar Association Newsletter, February 2005
  • Author, “Avoiding The Scathing Rebukes Of The Seventh Circuit: Pleading Diversity Jurisdiction,” Western District Bar Association Newsletter, December 2003


  • Sheepshead, volleyball, cooking, fishing