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THE DARK SIDE: In honor of our friend, Nathan Fishbach

It has been a summer of sorrow in the Milwaukee legal community. We lost our friends, David Cannon and Judge Terry Evans. And Saturday we lost another friend: Nathan Fishbach.

I last saw him just a couple weeks ago and thought he was doing better. But apparently, he wasn’t.

I imagine everyone knew Nathan in one way or another, whether through practicing law, through some legal organization, or through some non-legal community organization.

In addition to practicing law — first as a federal prosecutor, and then in private practice at Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC — it seems Nathan was active in just about every organization in the state dedicated to improving the justice system and the practice of law.

But I knew him first and foremost as a dedicated and learned attorney. Anytime I had a question about white collar crime, or the attorney-client privilege in corporate practice, or something along those lines, I called Nathan for answers. He frequently wrote articles for us here at Wisconsin Law Journal. And he

Nathan Fishbach

never had to be asked; he’d volunteer, despite his many clients and other responsibilities.


I also knew him as a devoted father and sports fan. I’ve played softball with his sons, Jeff and Michael, for many years. It was always a treat when Nathan came to the games to cheer on his sons and a disappointment if he was unable to attend.

On the day I learned of our great loss, I was preparing for my first jury trial in more than 10 years. When I heard the news of Nathan’s passing, I was determined to win the case, not just for my client, but for Nathan. I was inspired by the flags at the courthouse flying at half-mast in his honor.

At Nathan’s funeral service Tuesday, his rabbi encouraged us to honor Nathan by doing as he did — to find problems in the community and solve them.

I hope many do. But that’s not really me, and it would sound hollow if I suggested the same.

Like I said, I knew Nathan as an attorney and a father to his sons. And like Nathan, my own father was also a big sports fan, which is how I got the middle name “Knute,” after the legendary Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne.

So, in memory of Nathan the lawyer and sports fan, I would urge you to honor Nathan in the following way: Sometime, when the evidence is against you and the law is even worse, and your client feels hopeless, go out there with all you’ve got and take the case to trial anyway.

And win one for Nathan.

One comment

  1. My wife and I just learned of Nathan’s passing and it felt like a collective punch in the gut. It took our breath away knowing that such a vibrant guy was gone. We met Nathan and Sue (pre kids) when my wife and I moved to Milwaukee from Washington DC (1980) after I took a job with the Miller Brewing Co. He was caring and always interested.

    Later, when my wife decided to go to law school, Nathan wrote a letter of recommendation and began his role as being a supportive sounding board and mentor to her. The last time she saw Nathan was a couple of years ago when he was attending a conference about an hour from where we live now. He looked wonderful; having changed little from the time we spent together in the ’80s.

    He was such an accomplished guy although you’d never know it from him. He just never sang his own praise but you wouldn’t have to reach too deep into a Google search these days to find out everything he had done.

    Sue, we are so sorry for your loss. Boys, your dad had such a positive impact on friends, family, the legal community, and the community of Milwaukee. I hope there is comfort in knowing that he meant so much to so many.

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