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No detail is too small for Agsten

Wisconsin Law Journal photo/Kevin Harnack

Sometimes little details make a big difference.

Consider Shay Agsten’s issue-spotting prowess in a 2010 case.

Agsten, now a shareholder at von Briesen & Roper SC who typically represents creditors, including banks, in bankruptcies and loan workouts, discovered a legal issue that initially “was easily overlooked.”

She raised it, moving the Western District of Wisconsin bankruptcy court to deny the debtor’s motion to extend the automatic stay in the debtor’s second small-business Chapter 11 petition. This came after the debtor’s first case had been dismissed, based on a specific provision of the Bankruptcy Code that states the automatic stay didn’t apply in a case where a small business debtor had a similar case that had been dismissed in the past two years.

On appeal, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin released a published decision acknowledging that Congress could have been more precise in its drafting, but agreeing with Agsten’s interpretation of the statute, in Palmer v. Bank of the West.

Agsten embraces new challenges, such as when she applied for her second post-law school clerkship with (now) Chief Judge Pamela Pepper of the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court.

Despite the fact that Agsten had no experience in the concentration, Pepper “took a chance on” her and Agsten found she loves working in bankruptcy.

What was your most useful law school course?

Trial practice

What is the best part of being an attorney?

Getting to work on interesting legal issues and helping clients in the process

What song is on heavy rotation on your iPod?

“Drivin’ Blind” by Little Feat

How many countries have you visited? Which ones?

Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Spain. Traveling is one of my passions, so I scrimp and save to be able to do that whenever I can. I love being immersed in a different culture, doing simple things like going to the grocery store and seeing how the real people there live.

What was your favorite toy as a child?

My He-Man castle. We didn’t do “gender toys” at my house (laughs). Although my Cabbage Patch doll was also a favorite, and when she fell into the creek that was positively tragic for me.

What is your most prized possession?

My dog. He’s a boxer mix from the Humane Society.

What is the first concert you went to?

Whitney Houston. I was 5.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sitting on the beach with my husband, without a care in the world

What is your greatest extravagance?

I love going out to nice restaurants.

Where would you like to live?

Costa Rica. It was exotic and jungle-y

Who are your favorite writers?

Victor Hugo and Dostoyesfsky

What do you miss most about your childhood?


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