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Retirement still a ways off for Kohler



Milwaukee criminal defense attorney Martin E. Kohler likes the concept of retirement.

After 34 years in practice, the co-founder of Kohler & Hart has every right to think about it now and again. But Kohler has no intention of calling it quits just yet and said it’s more wishful thinking than anything.

The enjoyment of defending everything from arson to homicides to drug conspiracies is still there for the 1977 Hofstra Law School graduate, who spent his first 17 years as a founding member of Levine, Epstein and Kohler.

Outside of the courtroom, Kohler has long been a coordinator and presenter for the Annual Conference on Recent Developments in Criminal Law at Marquette University’s Center for Continuing Legal Studies.

The veteran attorney took his mind off the beach long enough to take part in this week’s Asked & Answered.

Wisconsin Law Journal: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?

Martin E. Kohler: How to practice law with civility or how to practice law poolside.

WLJ: What can you spend hours doing that isn’t law-related?

Kohler: Count the days until retirement.

WLJ: What is your favorite website and why?

Kohler: I’m too computer illiterate to have a favorite website, but I like Amazon.com because I can look for just about anything.

WLJ: Which actor would play you in a movie and why?

Kohler: I’m not bold enough to answer this one, but please, not Mel Gibson.

WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?

Kohler: Medical school pays out better at the end.

WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?

Kohler: I’m the only person from the 60s who wasn’t at Woodstock. It was either Muddy Waters or BB King … or was it the Turtles?

WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?

Kohler: [Former partner] Steve Epstein, because he’s retired.

WLJ: What is the hardest thing to tell a client?

Kohler: That they should have prevailed but didn’t, and the system failed them.

WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?

Kohler: One luxury item?  You’re kidding, right?

WLJ: If you were State Bar President for a day and could make one permanent change to the profession, what would it be?

Kohler: I would disband OLR and establish a true peer review system.

Jack Zemlicka can be reached at jack.zemlicka@wislawjournal.com.

One comment

  1. I am interested and dismayed by recent comments made by attorneys about OLR which reveal a basic and fundamental misunderstanding about attorney discipline. One attorney grandly resigned from the Wisconsin Bar and blamed Bar Association Governance for not disciplining a certain DA.Now this respected attorney says he, as state bar president, would \abolish\ OLR and establish \true peer review\- whatever that means. Where were these people when the great debates over BAPR and creation of OLR were being held in the Supreme Court? Point of Fact: OLR is not in any way controlled by the Bar. The Supreme Court wrote and adopted the rules, hires and pays the staff, and appoints all of the volunteers (lay and attorney) to the important lawyer discipline committees which operate independant of OLR & Bar association. In fact, the volunteer Preliminary Review Committee can (and has) overruled the OLR Director about disciplinary matters both in favor of the grievant and in favor of the lawyer.

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