Raymond P. Taffora – Michael Best & Friedrich
“I’ve always had an interest in government, and government makes laws,” Taffora said. “And if you’re interested in government and government has a law-making function, then you should be a lawyer because lawyers understand what laws are and how they’re made, and then they make sure people comply with them.
“So it was a natural link for me to become a lawyer, so I could counsel people on how to comply with laws.”
He attended both college and law school at the University of Wisconsin, and volunteered for political campaigns while there.
In 1987, at 26, Taffora was appointed deputy and then chief legal counsel to then-Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. It was a mix of governmental, administrative and regulatory law, offering interaction with some of the state’s most influential lawmakers. It was fascinating and just plain fun.
He nonetheless left when Thompson began his second term.
“My view has always been that government service should be for limited durations,” he said. “Even as a young person, I thought government service should be the exception to the rule. People should serve for limited periods of time, and then go back to their professions.”
Fortunately, his practice at the Madison office of Michael Best & Friedrich turned out to be just as fulfilling for Taffora. He enjoyed a governmental practice that had elements of transactional work and litigation.
Among his signature accomplishments during that time was to provide a legal roadmap to sustain the First Amendment rights of corporations to influence elections.
But then in 2006 newly-elected Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked him to serve as his deputy. Taffora accepted.
As chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, he oversaw its operations in addition to a busy litigation and transactional practice. Perhaps the most rewarding outcome in this role was serving as co-counsel in McConkey v. Van Hollen, where the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the 2006 marriage amendment did not violate the separate amendments rule of the Wisconsin Constitution.
In January 2011, Taffora stepped down when Van Hollen commenced his second term, for the same reason he departed from Thompson’s employ.
He’s come home to Michael Best, where he’ll head the Government and Regulatory Law Team in Madison.
He’s already got several complicated, exciting matters on his plate, such as serving as special counsel to the Wisconsin Legislature in re-districting after the 2010 Census, as it did after the 1990 and 2000 Censuses.