James D. Friedman, Partner


Jim has provided legal counsel to clients in very challenging legal, financial and business matters for more than 40 years. Whether the client is a multibillion-dollar, publicly-owned bank holding company or a local community bank—his clients receive responsive, reliable advice to guide them through their legal needs. An NFL quarterback, a banking trade association, a billion dollar family-owned business and an internationally famous racetrack have all turned to him for legal advice. Jim has represented clients with diverse businesses including a nationally recognized healthcare system, the independent directors of a Major League Baseball franchise, a German auto parts manufacturer, an educational opportunity foundation and one of America's most recognized Universities, to name a few.

He is well-known for his representation of banks in Wisconsin and for his experience in dealing with federal and state bank regulators. His in-depth knowledge of the banking industry and his creative approach to navigating legal issues have resulted in several first-of-a-kind transactions for his bank clients. Jim’s experience allows him to assemble teams of lawyers to efficiently and successfully handle countless legal matters including business litigation, securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, labor and employment, tax, employee benefits and more.

As Chair of the Quarles & Brady Financial Institutions Team and a Director, and member of the Executive and Audit Committees of the Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), he understands the increasingly important role directors play in corporate governance. He has represented boards and individual directors in extremely challenging legal matters - guiding them through the sale of an MLB franchise, extricating them from government regulatory enforcement actions, securities class actions and helping them to understand new and complex rules under legislation like Dodd-Frank. He is frequently called upon by reporters as a knowledge resource for comment on industry news, such as a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.

Generally, his practice includes the representation of clients in a vast array of industries such as:

  • Financial institutions of all types and sizes and their holding companies, in all aspects of their business, including regulatory, merger and acquisition, corporate and securities matters.
  • Manufacturers, service businesses and health care providers in a full array of corporate, transactional and international matters.
  • Businesses, boards of directors and independent directors or committees of directors in corporate governance, audit or transactional matters.
  • Family-owned businesses and successful entrepreneurs, ranging from the auto industry to the banking industry.

Legal Services

Education and Honors

  • University of Notre Dame Law School (J.D., 1972)
    • Managing Editor, Notre Dame Law Review, 1971-1972.
  • Marquette University (A.B., 1969)
    • Outstanding Senior, College of Liberal Arts, 1969.

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court, 1997
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, 1989
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1978
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, 1976
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, 1973

Professional and Civic Activities

  • American Bar Association (Banking Law Committee of the Business Law Section, 1985-present; Member, House of Delegates, 1980-1982)
  • Wisconsin Bankers Association and Community Bankers of Wisconsin (Associate member)
  • Director: Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers and Commerce (2008-present; Finance Committee 2011-present; Executive and Audit Committees 2012-present); Concours Motors, Inc. (1998-present); Partners Advancing Values in Education, Inc. (1987-present; Finance and Governance Committees 1987-present, Secretary 2014- ); Weyenberg Public Library Foundation, Inc. (1983-present; President 1983-present); Wisconsin Law Foundation (1998-2014; President 2007-2008; Executive and Finance Committees 1998-2014); Wisconsin’s Equal Justice Fund, Inc., (1998-2008; President, 2006).
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Office of Lawyer Regulation (Member and Vice Chair Preliminary Review Committee, 2000-2007)
  • State of Wisconsin, Department of Financial Institutions, Task Force on Financial Competitiveness 2005, (Member, 2000)
  • State of Wisconsin, Member Legislative Council Special Study Committee on the Regulation of Financial Institutions (1986-1987)
  • Governor's Advisory Council on Judicial Selection of the State of Wisconsin for Ozaukee County, (2002)
  • State Bar of Wisconsin (Chair, Board of Governors, 1999-2000. Member, Board of Governors, 1996-2000; Member, Executive Committee, 1998-2000; Member, Finance and Investment Committees 1997-1998; Director, 1984-1999, Chair, 1989-1990, International Practice Section)
  • Center for the Study of Entrepreneurship, Marquette University (Member, Board of Visitors, 1987-1995)
  • Alderman, City of Mequon, Wisconsin 4th & 7th Districts, (1979-1983); President, Common Council, (1980-1982); Chair (2008-present) and Member, Board of Ethics (1996-1998 and 2000-present); Chair, Blue Ribbon Visioning Committee, (1998-2000)

Professional Recognition

  • Recognized as Best Lawyers® 2016 Milwaukee Litigation - Banking and Finance "Lawyer of the Year"
  • State Bar of Wisconsin – Pro Bono Honor Society (2013, 2015)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rated
  • Recognized as Best Lawyers® 2014 Milwaukee Financial Services Regulation Law "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers In America® (1995-present: Banking and Finance Law / Financial Services Regulation Law / Litigation - Banking & Finance)
  • Listed in Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in the Midwest, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in Finance and Business
  • Received the 2012 Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Legal Profession from the Wisconsin Law Foundation
  • Selected as a Wisconsin Super Lawyers® lists (2006-present; Banking)
  • Selected for M Magazine's Best Lawyers in Milwaukee, 2012
  • Wisconsin Law Journal, 2006 Wisconsin Leader in the Law
  • Wisconsin Law Foundation (Life Fellow)
  • American Bar Foundation (Life Fellow)