As a new attorney, Jim Friedman heard colleagues’ stories about Charles L. Goldberg, a Marquette University Law School alumnus who went on to head the State Bar of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Bar and Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.
“They would talk about him in very reverent terms,” Friedman said. “He was apparently very smart and a very good problem-solver. Lawyers would call him up and say, ‘I have this particular problem. What do you think’?”
So Friedman was honored when he, now decades later working as a partner with Quarles & Brady LLC, Milwaukee, was recently chosen as the recipient of the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service award.
It’s an award offered in recognition of Friedman’s years of service to the legal profession, including his efforts as an alderman in Mequon and starting a foundation for the Mequon-Thiensville Public Library. Friedman also served as chairman of the Wisconsin Equal Justice Fund and the State Bar Board of Governors, and was a member of the Office of Lawyer Regulation preliminary review committee.
But it is his work with Partners Advancing Values in Education that truly stands out for Friedman.
“The thing I feel the best about is having been one of the founding members of PAVE,” he said.
Started in the late 1980s as a way to support inner-city Catholic schools, the foundation evolved into a scholarship program for poor families who wished to opt out of a troubled Milwaukee Public School system and have their children attend private religious schools.
“Part of the goal was to create competition where there wasn’t any and to put money in people’s pockets, so they could shop for better educational opportunities,” Friedman said. “We sent about sent about 27,000 kids to private schools.”
Wisconsin Law Journal: What is the best part of being an attorney?
Jim Friedman: I think it’s working with extremely intelligent, challenging people and really challenging issues, trying to add value for clients.
WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be? Why?
Friedman: I don’t want to trade places with anybody. I’m very happy. But if I was pressed: Babe Ruth, because he’s one of the greatest baseball players of all time and, apparently a very interesting character, who also came from a difficult background and had to work very hard.
WLJ: What was your most useful law school course? Why?
Friedman: Real property, because of the teacher. The teacher was particularly bright and challenging and had a way of taking ordinary, everyday occurrences and explaining what legal issues might be in that situation. He used to take the local, real, small-town newspaper, bring it in every day and there’d be an article about some farmer. And he’d relate it to solving a legal issue.
WLJ: What was your least favorite course in law school? Why?
Friedman: Probably criminal law, because of the teacher.
WLJ: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?
Friedman: It would be something for beginning lawyers, in terms of what to expect of clients and how to relate to clients to help them understand what will be expected of them.
WLJ: What do you consider your biggest achievement to date? Why?
Friedman: Sending four kids through college and having a fifth one that will be able to attend college — and having them all have jobs the day after they graduate and that they had no debt when they graduated.
WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?
Friedman: My golf clubs
WLJ: What do you miss most about your childhood?
Friedman: I miss my parents and my extended family. My mother was one of 11 children, and her parents lived in a house and right next to it they had a four-unit apartment building and at different times her siblings lived there. Everyone would show up on a Saturday, and my grandfather brewed beer, so all the sons-in-law would show up with their beer bottles and they would play Euchre.
WLJ: What is the first concert you attended?
Friedman: Beach Boys, McCormick Place in Chicago. The lead act was The Loving Spoonful. This would have been between 1960 and 1965, so it was them in their heyday. It was fun. And the other thing was I grew up in Iowa, and the four of us took a train to Chicago. We stayed in what was then called the Water Tower — it’s now the Hyatt — on Michigan Avenue. We went to the elevator and pushed the button and Michael Love walked out. They were staying at the same hotel.
WLJ: Finish this sentence: Happiness is …
Friedman: Having a companion who loves you deeply and a career that is not a job.