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Buelow thrives in challenge of launching firm

After 37 years at Davis & Kuelthau SC, Cliff Buelow decided to co-launch Buelow Vetter LLC. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

At age 62, most people might be thinking about retirement plans and in what climate they want to spend their golden years.

But retirement is far from top of mind for attorney Cliff Buelow, who last year left Davis & Kuelthau SC, Milwaukee, after 37 years to co-launch Buelow Vetter LLC.

More than 15 months later, the firm has grown from 10 to 15 attorneys and expanded its named partnership to Buelow Vetter Buikema Olson & Vliet LLC, Waukesha.

Leaving an established labor and employment firm to start another one was a calculated risk, Buelow said, and its success has surprised even him.

If anything, he said, the endeavor reinvigorated his passion to practice and he has no plans to slow down.

Buelow maintains clients in almost 20 states and he takes full advantage of the fact that the practice of law has become truly a mobile profession.

He put his experience and wisdom to work in this week’s Asked & Answered.

Wisconsin Law Journal: What is your favorite book and why?
Cliff Buelow: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. No explanation needed.

WLJ: What was your least favorite course in law school and why?
Buelow: Torts. I didn’t understand it then and still don’t understand it now.

WLJ: What do you consider your biggest achievement to date and why?
Buelow: Professionally, starting Buelow Vetter. In my social life, being one of the founding board members of Time of Grace Ministry, a worldwide Milwaukee-based media ministry. In my personal life, it’s being the father or stepfather of 10 children.

WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?
Buelow: My golf clubs. Can’t live with them and can’t live without them.

WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?
Buelow: Being a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re a philosopher king. It means you’re in the service business and your goal is not to pontificate, but figure out how to provide service of real value to your clients.

WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?
Buelow: Peter, Paul and Mary, Madison, 1968.

WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Buelow: One of my grandkids. I’d like to remember what it’s like to be young and naive and run around outside all day.

WLJ: What is your motto?
Buelow: Work is a blessing. Enjoy it and have some fun.

WLJ: What is your favorite movie about lawyers or the law and why?
Buelow: I don’t watch lawyer movies or shows. If I weren’t a lawyer myself, I wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

WLJ: If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Buelow: Either business or professor of American History/Constitutional Law assuming, of course, I couldn’t make it as a golf pro.

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