James D. Friedman, Retired Partner


Jim provided legal counsel to clients in very challenging legal, financial and business matters for more than 40 years. Whether the client was a multibillion-dollar, publicly-owned bank holding company, or a community bank or a family business—his clients received 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 auto racetrack all turned to him for legal advice. Jim 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 was 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 resulted in several first-of-a-kind transactions for his bank clients. Jim’s experience allowed 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 past Chair of the Quarles & Brady Financial Institutions Team and a Director, and past member of the Executive and Audit Committees of the Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), he understood the increasingly important role directors play in corporate governance. He represented boards and individual directors in extremely challenging legal and public relations matters - guided them through the sale of an MLB franchise, extricated them from government regulatory enforcement actions, securities class actions and helped them to understand new and complex government rules. He was frequently called upon by reporters as a knowledge resource for comment on industry news.

Generally, his practice included 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.

Education and Honors

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

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Professional and Civic Activities

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Referee (2020-present)
  • American Bar Association (Banking Law Committee and Corporate Governance Committee of the Business Law Section, 1985-present; Member, House of Delegates, 1980-1982)
  • Wisconsin Bankers Association (Associate Member, 1972-2019)
  • Director: Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers and Commerce (2008-2018; Finance Committee 2011-2018; Executive and Audit Committees 2012-2018)
  • 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 (Director, Senior Lawyers Division, 2017-2019; Member, Emeritus Task Force, 2019; 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)
  • Director, Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee High School (2015 - 2018)
  • Director, Weyenberg Public Library Foundation, Inc. (1983-present; President 1983-present)
  • Director, Concours Motors, Inc. (1998-2018)
  • Director, Partners Advancing Values in Education, Inc. now known as City Forward Collective, Inc. (Finance Committee 1987-2018; Governance Committee 1987-2018, Secretary 2014- 2018)
  • Director, Wisconsin Law Foundation (1998-2014; President 2007-2008; Executive and Finance Committees 1998-2014)
  • Director, Wisconsin’s Equal Justice Fund, Inc., (1998-2008; President, 2006)

Professional Recognition

  • Recognized as Best Lawyers® 2016 Milwaukee Litigation - Banking and Finance "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Recognized as Best Lawyers® 2014 Milwaukee Financial Services Regulation Law "Lawyer of the Year"
  • State Bar of Wisconsin – Pro Bono Honor Society (2013, 2015, 2018)
  • 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 Lawyer® (2006-2018; Banking)
  • Wisconsin Law Journal, 2006 Wisconsin Leader in the Law
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers In America® (1995-2020: Banking and Finance Law / Financial Services Regulation Law / Litigation - Banking & Finance / Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law)
  • American Bar Foundation (Life Fellow)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
  • Wisconsin Law Foundation (Life Fellow)
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