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Home / 2012 Leaders in the Law / Grappling with political change

Grappling with political change

Robert Burns, managing shareholder at Davis & Kuelthau SC, is living in interesting times, both in his professional and civic life.

In addition to managing the firm’s Green Bay office, Burns practices management side labor and employment law, representing both businesses and government bodies.

Practicing in those areas has been greatly affected, he said, by Wisconsin’s passing last year of Act 10, which stripped many public employee unions of the ability to bargain over issues other than wages.

“There has been a lot of activity in assisting public sector clients who are dealing with the new environment,” Burns says. “In the public sector, there is a lot of work giving supervisory and managerial advice, and dealing with management discretion.”

Some of his workload has gone down as a result of the changes, however, he said.

“Traditional bargaining work has reduced a great deal,” he said. “It’s a mixed workload from that standpoint.”

With the decline of traditional bargaining, Burns said he expects complaints that used to take the form of employee grievances will instead be recast as discrimination claims.

Burns’ civic life has seen recent upheaval as a result of politics, as well.

He serves on the board of directors for two Green Bay Hospitals, St. Mary’s and St. Vincent’s, both of which are wrangling with changes in the medical industry following the passing of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.

“It’s a challenging environment for hospitals with changes in Medicare reimbursement, changes in the regulatory framework and the uncertainty regarding Obamacare,” Burns said. “I’m far from an expert, but I have a lot of homework to do before every board meeting.

“It’s a very fast-paced environment in both my professional and civic charitable lives right now.”

His work in and outside the office have earned him the respect of many, said Stephanie Dantinne, office administrator at Davis & Kuelthau’s Green Bay branch.

“Anyone who speaks with Bob for the first time feels right at home,” she said, “as if they have known him their entire life. He is a leader both in the legal community, as well as the Green Bay community at large.”


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