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Firm leader Crocker takes time for reflection

Randy Crocker

Randy Crocker (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

One of the traditions Randy Crocker, president of von Briesen & Roper SC, Milwaukee, holds dear is giving an end-of-the-year toast at the firm’s holiday party.

For the past six years, Crocker has raised his glass as leader of the Milwaukee-based firm, but his roots with von Briesen date back more than 20 years.

After a decade with a small firm, Crocker joined von Briesen in 1988 and developed his commercial litigation practice to include representation of businesses and banks in transactions, restructuring and bankruptcy.

Crocker said he traces his passion for litigation back to his graduation from law school in 1979. At that time, he wanted to find any way he could to get into a courtroom, he said, which led him to practice criminal and family law early in his career.

Crocker practices full time in addition to his role as CEO of the firm, so he relishes any time he can decompress without leaving the office. He attached a Web camera to a cabin near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border and likes to log on to absorb the outdoor serenity whenever he needs a mental, if not physical escape, he said.

Crocker took another moment of reflection to answer this week’s Asked & Answered.

Wisconsin Law Journal: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?
Randall Crocker: The ethical, practical and effective lawyer. I would like to see a course on what it means to be a lawyer, how lawyers really make a difference in people’s lives and in our communities, and how to be an effective, practical, value-added solution to the problems lawyers are engaged to address.

WLJ: What was your least favorite course in law school and why?
Crocker: Bankruptcy, because at the time I took it we studied Supreme Court cases and the old Act.  It is funny now that my least favored class became my most favored practice area.

WLJ: What is your favorite website and why?
Crocker: Yoics, because I can see a live shot of my duck hunting cabin on the Mississippi River in Minnesota. It provides a little distraction and a little vacation everyday. I also really like Wikipedia because it gives a quick answer to interesting questions at the tip of your fingers. It is like the computer in the “Star Trek” movies and TV shows.

WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?
Crocker: My iPad. I take it everywhere; it gives me books, news, email, the internet and my client files.

WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?
Crocker: That if you want respect you have to earn it by treating others with respect. If you want respect as a lawyer you have to show respect for the law, for the courts, for your adversaries and for the legal system.

WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?
Crocker: Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane at the Fieldhouse in Madison. “Tear down the Walls.”  It was a great night. Eye droppers of colored water on an overhead projector constituted the light show. How things have developed!

WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Crocker: A judge presiding over a criminal trial. The criminal jury trial is the ultimate expression of the legal system and the Constitution in action. Individual liberties, the interests of the State, and the process of seeking truth all put before a jury of good and honest people striving to get to the right answer. Presiding over such a trial for a day, would be a great experience.

WLJ: What is your motto?
Crocker: I have two. “There is no mission without a margin” and “Carpe diem.”

WLJ: What is your favorite movie about lawyers or the law and why?
Crocker: “To Kill a Mockingbird” because Atticus Finch did the right thing as he saw it. “Stand up Scout, your father’s passing.” I also really liked the creative way the Tom Cruise kept his license, beat the bad guys, and won the battle in “The Firm.”

WLJ: If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Crocker: I can’t imagine doing anything but being a lawyer. It is what I always wanted to do. I suppose that if I could not be a lawyer, I would be a professional trainer, training hunting dogs for upland and waterfowl work.

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