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Louis B. Butler

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  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
  • B.A., Lawrence University – also awarded Honorary Doctorate in Humanities in 2007


  • Illinois 
  • Wisconsin
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th and 8th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin

Former Justice Louis Butler brought to the firm a wealth of legal and judicial knowledge. As the first African American to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, he participated in decisions which have had significant legal impacts in the State of Wisconsin. He spent a great portion of his career as a public servant, acting as a criminal defense attorney, an appellate attorney, a law instructor, a state court judge and city judge as well. Through his service he developed extensive knowledge of the various aspects affecting trial and appellate litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and court processes at all levels.

Since his time on the bench Louis focused his private practice on providing his clients with advice in several areas of the law, to include litigation, construction litigation, environmental issues and appellate matters. He had more than nine years of exclusive criminal appellate experience. Louis argued before the United States Supreme Court and is a permanent member of the faculty of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, where judges from across the nation and around the world take continuing judicial education classes.  A few of Louis' notable accomplishments include:

  • Appellate litigation experience which includes arguing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court more than 20 times
  • Louis was the first Public Defender in Wisconsin’s history to argue before the United States Supreme Court in McCoy v. Wisconsin Court of Appeals, 468 U.S. 429 (1988)
  • Nominated by President Barack Obama to be a United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin


  • Former President – Fellows of Wisconsin Law Foundation
  • Board of Directors, Wisconsin Law Foundation
  • Board of Trustees – Lawrence University
  • Board of Directors – The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
  • Fellows of the American Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • Illinois Bar Association
  • Milwaukee Bar Association
  • Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers
  • Thomas E. Fairchild Chapter of the American Inns of Court
  • Best Brief Competition Judge – State Bar of Wisconsin Appellate Practice Section (2018)
  • Competition Judge – University of Wisconsin Law School’s annual Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court (2009-2019)
  • Panel Member American Arbitration Association®
  • Former Director – Wisconsin Public Defender Clinical Program at Marquette University Law School
  • Former Senior Visiting Lecturer – University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Former Member – American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Judicial Independence (2008-2011)

Articles & Presentations

  • New York University Journal of Legislation & Public Policy’s Symposium:  “Courts, Campaigns and Corruption: Judicial Recusal Five Years After Caperton.” Four separate panel discussions were held on November 14, 2015 at the New York University School of Law and featured nearly half a dozen current and former state-court judges, including Louis Butler. The Journal recently published Volume 18, Issue 3, comprised of the collective remarks from the panel discussions
  • Taught “Advanced Criminal Procedure” at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, 1997-2016
  • Served on the final bench at the Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition in the Wisconsin Supreme Court Hearing Room in Madison, Wisconsin, 2009-2016
  • Previous Keynote speaker at NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner in Madison, Wisconsin for the Dane County Branch, Kenosha County Branch, Rock County Branch, and Milwaukee County Branch
  • Presentation to undergraduate Political Science class, “Law, Politics & Society” at the University of Wisconsin on Justice Butler’s experience as a Judge, 2014
  • Presented at the Wisconsin State Bar, 2014 Annual Meeting and Conference
  • Moderated the Judicial Forum at the National Bar Association – Commercial Litigation Section’s 27th Annual Corporate Counsel Conference. The Conference was held in Austin, Texas, 2014
  • Served on the final bench for Southwestern Law School’s Moot Court Competition, 2014 with other state Supreme Court Justices and federal court of appeals judges from around the country
  • Keynote speaker at the UW-Madison Law School Pro Bono Program’s Fall Reception, 2014. The Pro Bono Program provides UW Law students with opportunities to deliver law-related services to underrepresented community members
  • Judicial Elections at Harvard Law School sponsored by American Constitution Society. Justice Butler spoke about Judicial Elections at the University of Wisconsin Law School, sponsored by the American Constitution Society – with former Chief Justice of Iowa Supreme Court Marsha Ternus, 2013

Awards & Recognitions

  • Honorary Fellow of American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, 2018
  • Twenty Years of Teaching Award – National Judicial College, 2016
  • Thomas G. Cannon Equal Justice Award – Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
  • William M. Coffey Memorial Award – Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • NAACP Food Soldiers’ Award
  • Outstanding Citizen’s Award – Wisconsin Council of Deliberations, Prince Hall Masons
  • 2014 Leaders in the Law – Wisconsin Law Journal
  • Trail Blazer Award – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – 2002, 2004
  • Humanitarian of the Year – American Federation of Teachers – Local 212