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Biskupic makes smooth transition from prosecutor to defense lawyer

Steven Biskupic (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

When Steven Biskupic stepped down as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2009, he wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do next.

Biskupic, 49, made a name for himself during his seven-year run as U.S. attorney, prosecuting high-profile corruption cases including those involving Michael McGee, State Sen. Gary George and former chair of The Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Mark Sostarich.

Since February 2009, Biskupic has been making a name for himself at the Milwaukee office of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, where he is chair of the Litigation Practice Group. His practice focuses on complex litigation with an emphasis on business disputes and government regulations.

The litigator took time recently to answer this week’s Asked & Answered.

Wisconsin Law Journal: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?
Steven Biskupic: How lawyers end up going to jail. I’ve been involved in the prosecution of more than a dozen lawyers and there is a certain consistency to the conduct.

WLJ: What was your least favorite course in law school and why?
Biskupic: It wasn’t a class, it was a classroom. In the old Marquette law school building, there were a couple of rooms that had no windows, barely enough seating and, it seemed, no airflow. It was like taking a class in someone’s basement.

WLJ: What do you consider your biggest achievement to date and why?
Biskupic: Not to avoid the question, but from the perspective of a legal career, I always tried to work on a lot of cases, so that no one case, win or lose, was too important. I never wanted to say “this was a career case.” To the individual parties involved, every case was a career case.

WLJ: What is the one luxury item you cannot live without?
Biskupic: ESPN on cable, especially during college basketball season

WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?
Biskupic: Being polite and respectful of opposing counsel will get you a lot farther than being rude and arrogant.

WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?
Biskupic: Chicago at Grant Park in Chicago in 1979

WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why
Biskupic: Mike McCarthy, coach of the Green Bay Packers, the day after the Super Bowl win. What did it feel like to put in all that effort and achieve the highest goal?

WLJ: What is your motto?
Biskupic: I do not have a motto. But for trials, I often think of the “move by the left flank” strategy that military historians ascribe to Ulysses S. Grant. I think it means avoid the head-on battle if you can. A head-on trial fight may make for great courtroom drama, but it definitely won’t work for one side and often doesn’t work for either side.

WLJ: What is your favorite movie about lawyers or the law and why?
Biskupic: I generally do not like lawyer movies because it’s hard to suspend your disbelief, especially when courtrooms are portrayed. I did like the courtroom action in “Presumed Innocent” because I thought it was the closest to the real thing — probably because it was written by a courtroom lawyer.

WLJ: If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Biskupic: I have older sisters who are school teachers and another who is a journalist. I likely would have followed their lead.


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