Francis Deisinger

State Bar of Wisconsin

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Francis W. Deisinger

Candidate for State Bar President-elect

Francis W. Deisinger

Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., Milwaukee
Email: com FDeisinger reinhartlaw reinhartlaw FDeisinger com

Platform Statement

It is very gratifying to have the opportunity to use that greeting. I’m proud of being a Wisconsin lawyer. I value our profession and the remarkable people who practice law here.

What You Should Know About Me

My practice and service has been focused on serving Wisconsin lawyers: as the general counsel of my law firm advising its attorneys; counseling lawyers, law firms and judges on ethics matters; teaching ethics seminars to practitioners, corporate counsel and pro bono attorneys; representing lawyers before the Office of Lawyer Regulation and the Board of Bar Examiners; and, when claims are made, defending lawyers in court. For fun, I even write reviews of movies about lawyers. I have been very lucky to spend my working life around, and very often working for, intelligent, accomplished and ethical professionals.

My service to lawyers goes beyond providing legal counsel. In the 1990s I joined the Professionalism committee of the Milwaukee Bar Association (MBA), our voluntary bar association with thousands of members. I found that I enjoyed bar service and was good at it. In the 2000s I was elected a director. In 2010, the membership elected me President, and after my term ended, the directors elected me President of the MBA Foundation, its charitable arm.

In my offices with the MBA I have been directly and continuously involved in providing services to members -- while also watching the budget. My long official tenure with the MBA also allowed me to keep its outward attention focused on the creation, launch and operation of the Milwaukee Justice Center (MJC). A joint project of the MBA, Milwaukee County and Marquette Law School, the MJC serves poor pro-se litigants at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. In 2013 over 400 volunteer lawyers and law students assisted more than 10,000 people. Together we improved access to justice and eased a terrible strain on the courts.

What Will Guide Me

Most campaign statements include some kind of a 10-point plan or multi-year forecast. This one doesn’t. I believe that the best a candidate for this office can realistically do is to identify some guidestars towards which, as President for one year, he might be able to steer an organization that is well over 100 years old and has over 20,000 members. My conversations with past State Bar Presidents revealed a common theme: unexpected and emergent issues inevitably overtook the agenda. This comes as no surprise, and causes me no anxiety. As a trial lawyer for three decades I know that you go where the facts take you, no matter what the case looks like initially.

But whatever arises, I will keep two principles front and center for our bar association:

First: value to the members. For years we have argued about whether membership in the State Bar should be mandatory. That is the Supreme Court’s decision. But, as the past president of the largest voluntary bar association in the state, I am acutely sensitive to the obligation to deliver real value to dues paying members. In a time of rapid, fundamental change in the practice, the State Bar must be sure it is addressing today’s needs. It must also recognize the different needs of our different constituents, including beginning lawyers, government lawyers and others among our colleagues who do not now always perceive (or perhaps receive) value from their membership.

Second: service to the cause of justice. A noble profession must do noble things. There are immense good works done by Wisconsin lawyers every day. We see the volunteerism, leadership and commitment throughout the state. But the State Bar has the organization and ability to help Wisconsin lawyers accomplish greater things than they can achieve alone. I have experience steering a bar association towards good works in the cause of justice, and I would like the opportunity to do it again.

So that’s it. I am humbled by this nomination and I look forward to meeting as many Wisconsin lawyers as possible during the campaign and, I hope, as President.

Colleagues, I ask for your vote and welcome your ideas and support. Let’s make our State Bar better together.


General Counsel and shareholder, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.

Professional Background

As a litigator for more than 30 years, Fran has been successful as a trial lawyer and as a creative negotiator and advisor able to design and achieve effective and practical solutions for his clients. For many years, Fran has also served as Reinhart's General Counsel and chair of the firm's Ethics Committee. Fran joined Reinhart in 1982 and is a shareholder in the firm's Litigation Practice.

During his career, Fran has represented a full spectrum of plaintiffs, defendants and petitioners in litigation involving personal injury, product liability, contracts, insurance, intellectual property infringement, business acquisitions and sales, and even maritime accidents. For the last ten years, he has focused his litigation practice on trust, estate and guardianship disputes and on legal professional liability matters in which he represents lawyers and law firms. Fran has tried cases to juries, judges and arbitrators in numerous federal and state jurisdictions, including in Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.


  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers, 2007 to present
  • Best Lawyers in America (Commercial Litigation Law; Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law), 2011 to present
  • Wisconsin Top Rated Lawyer Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
  • Recognized by the Wisconsin Law Journal as one of Wisconsin's Leaders in the Law, 2014

Publications & Presentations

  • Movies About Lawyers and Lawyering: Fran Deisinger's Messenger Reviews: An aggregation of Fran's movie review essays published in the Milwaukee Bar Association's quarterly magazine, The Messenger, since 2010
  • Fran also regularly presents seminars on legal ethics and professional responsibility to private practitioners, corporate counsel and pro bono attorneys


  • Milwaukee Bar Association (President, 2009-2010)
  • Milwaukee Bar Association Foundation (President since 2011)
  • Milwaukee Bar Association Professionalism Committee (Chair 2003-2007)
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • American Bar Association
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (membership limited to one-third of one percent of the lawyers in each state)
  • Admitted to the Bar in Wisconsin; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin; and U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin


  • J.D., cum laude, 1982 University of Wisconsin Law School (Represented the University of Wisconsin Law School in the National Moot Court Competition in 1981)
  • B.A., with distinction, 1976 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Classics and Mass Communication); Phi Beta Kappa
  • Completed the STAR mediator training program of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of the Pepperdine School of Law and the Center for Dispute Resolution of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law


Fran and his wife Judy live in Wauwatosa, where they raised their sons John and Nate, and travel whenever they can to their cabin on a weedy small lake in Vilas County. Apart from his interest in movies, Fran spends his hobby time golfing, reading and following college basketball.

Contact Information:

Francis Deisinger
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
1000 N. Water St.
Suite 1700
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Ph: 414-298-1000
Email: com FDeisinger reinhartlaw reinhartlaw FDeisinger com

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