Lester A. Pines – Cullen Weston Pines & Bach
By Casey Laughman
“The one thing left on my list is arguing a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Pines said. “It’s the one thing I haven’t done.”
While that may be the last big goal left, he’s not planning on leaving law anytime soon. And after the year he had in 2010, it’s easy to see why he’s still going strong.
In addition to his work in the courtroom, including winning a case in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Pines received a Leadership Award from Fair Wisconsin and was named Adjunct Professor of the Year by the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he teaches Pre-Trial Civil Advocacy.
While it was a year of honors, he’s still most proud of his work on behalf of his clients. Pines, senior partner at the Madison firm of Cullen Weston Pines & Bach, divides his time between defense, labor law, litigation and appellate work. The variety of work is not only an offshoot of spending his career with smaller firms where specialization isn’t an option, but is something he enjoys to continually gain a fresh perspective on the law.
“By being active in more than one area of the law, it’s made my career much more interesting,” he said.
The one thing all those areas have in common is they allow him to spend a lot of time in the courtroom, which is what he loves the most.
“I love doing trials, I really do,” he said. “I would have to say that the thing that I really find challenging and a lot of fun to do is oral argument in front of a multi-judge appellate court,” such as the 7th Circuit or the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Courtroom work is also what he’s most well-known for. In 1996, he successfully argued Thompson v. Craney in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The case, which resulted from former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s attempts to establish a Board of Education to limit the power of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, was, as Pines describes it, “a very, very serious public policy issue.”
Winning the case is a justifiably proud moment for Pines.
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has itself listed that case as one of the most significant decisions in its history,” he said.
“That I was able to argue a case on that list is a highlight.”