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Overview

With a unique background in writing and music composition, Joe brings unmatched creativity to analyzing and solving complex legal problems.

Because of his creative approach to talking and writing about the law, Joe is frequently tapped to represent clients in appellate and trial courts, when compelling written communication matters most. He has advocated for clients through all stages of litigation, including at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as well as in trial courts across the country.

Joe’s practice spans a broad range of legal subject matters, including constitutional and statutory challenges to government action at the local, state and federal levels; land use, zoning and property rights; commercial contracts; and class action defense. He serves clients of varying disciplines, including real estate developers, construction companies, traditional and renewable energy providers, and agribusiness operations of all kinds – from small and large farms, to food manufacturers, to business brokers.

In addition to writing as an advocate for his clients, Joe is a published scholar on topics of constitutional law and judicial authority. His latest article, Article III, Judicial Restraint, and this Supreme Court, was published in the SMU Law Review. His written work has also appeared at Wisconsin Lawyer, where he serves on the editorial board, as well as The Foundation for Economic Education, Law360 and elsewhere.


Services

Recognition

  • Hon. Charles Dunn Author Award, 2019
  • Terence T. Evans Prize for Humor and Creativity in the Law, 2017
  • Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Honor Society, 2017
  • Western District of Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2017-18

Education

  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
    • summa cum laude
    • Order of the Coif
    • Wisconsin Law Review, articles editor
    • Ray and Ethel Brown Award in Legal Writing
    • Best Brief Award
  • B.M., University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Music Composition
    • with distinction

Admissions

  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of Wisconsin 
    • Appellate Practice Section, Board of Directors 
    • Litigation Section
    • Communications Committee
  • American Bar Association
    • Council of Appellate Lawyers
  • Dane County Bar Association
  • Wisconsin Lawyer, Editorial Board
Experience
  • Achieved victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a real estate developer in CityDeck Landing v. Circuit Court, a case announcing important limits on a trial court's authority to interfere with private arbitration proceedings.
  • Won appeal in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Stockbridge Munsee Community v. Ho-Chunk Nation, a case brought by one American Indian tribe against another over the latter's right to conduct gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Affirming the district court's ruling in favor of the Ho-Chunk Nation, the Court held that the plaintiff-tribe's claim was both outside the statutory zone of interests and barred by the statute of limitations.
  • Authored multiple amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court – most recently in Bostock v. Clayton County and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, related cases asking whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status.
  • Obtained 4-1 win in the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Enbridge Energy Co. v. Dane County, which held that a local government exceeded the scope of its land-use authority when it imposed unlawful conditions on an energy pipeline company's zoning permit. The Court also ruled that it has discretion to modify portions of a challenged zoning permit, without remanding the permit to the local government for further consideration.
  • Authored multiple successful petitions for review to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • Authored an amicus brief in Michels v. Lyons, a Wisconsin Supreme Court case involving questions of constitutional interpretation and the protection of individual liberty interests under the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Won summary judgment for a real estate developer pursuing a claim for fraudulent transfer, enabling the developer to collect a substantial prior judgment.
  • Won summary judgment and attorneys' fees for a professional organization in a copyright infringement suit that hinged on whether the organization's volunteers were agents under the "work made for hire" doctrine.
  • Represented a national outdoor advertising company before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in an appeal about regulatory takings and nonconforming uses.
  • Defended an international IT consulting firm against federal claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and state claims for trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition.
Case Studies
CityDeck Landing LLC

What began as a private arbitration regarding a dispute over the construction of an apartment building in Green Bay turned into a case with much larger implications when a subcontractor’s insurer filed a separate action in Wisconsin state circuit court seeking a declaration regarding its coverage obligations, as well as a stay of the arbitration until the coverage issues were resolved.

Outside the Office

Joe enjoys golfing and is especially fond of Quit Qui Oc Golf Club in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the course where he grew up learning the game.

He’s also a classical music fan, with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” as a favorite symphonic work. Joe is also a classically trained composer and has had several pieces performed, including “Night at the Lake” for four percussionists.

At home, Joe likes to cook for friends. Go-to recipes include mushroom risotto, chocolate cake, and macaroni and cheese. He also spends time reading history, economics and other nonfiction works. A favorite recent book was Bill Bryson’s “At Home,” a room-by-room history of domestic life in Europe and America.

Community Leadership

Joe serves his community through pro bono work, the arts and civic development.

Joe maintains an active pro bono practice. He has, for example, represented a transgender inmate in a civil rights lawsuit involving constitutional questions under the Eighth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause.

Joe celebrates and supports classical music by serving on the board of directors, the executive committee and the finance committee of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, an organization dedicated to building diverse, inclusive communities through music and musicianship.

That same commitment to community drives Joe’s involvement with Downtown Madison Inc., where he is an active member of both the Economic Development Committee and the Inclusiveness Committee.