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Firm co-founder thrives in chaos

Firm co-founder thrives in chaos

Erin Dickinson (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
Erin Dickinson (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Erin Dickinson’s busy docket of litigation cases are a good fit for her outgoing personality.

“I come from a family of lawyers,” she said, “so I pretty much knew that was what I was going to do. I wanted to focus on litigation since I think it’s the most exciting part of the law and I didn’t want to be chained to a desk all day.”

A founding partner of Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger LLC in Milwaukee, Dickinson focuses on large complex business litigation cases, including patent and class action lawsuits. She said she was drawn to the challenge and diversity of working with business clients rather than criminal litigation.

“With business law, there is always a different problem to solve,” Dickinson said. “The cases change, but the core skills that are key to being a good litigator stay the same.”

After attending the University of Texas School of Law, she worked at litigation firms in Texas and Kansas City before coming home to Wisconsin in 2006 to work for Michael Best & Friedrich. When the opportunity arose in 2011 to join four other attorneys starting a new firm, Dickinson took it.

“I always wanted my own firm,” she said, “and we fill a niche since there aren’t many small firms that specialize in intellectual property litigation in this market.”

Dickinson said she enjoys the challenging cases and learning about technology.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I really dive in and learn as much as I can, but also rely on experts so I can digest it all and put an argument together that’s understandable for people who aren’t familiar with the technology or issue. That’s the key to success – taking something like that and making it understandable to judges and juries.”

While she admits managing multiple complex cases at the same time can be a juggling act, it’s clearly something Dickinson enjoys.

“Your attention is constantly pulled in different directions, but that’s OK,” she said. “I thrive on a little bit of chaos.”


Wisconsin Law Journal: What was your least-favorite class in law school?
Erin Dickinson: Property. If I ever had to take it again, I might not become a lawyer.

WLJ: What career would you have pursued if you hadn’t become an attorney?
Dickinson: Kindergarten teacher. My favorite age. Every time I help out in my children’s classrooms I think about what a great job it would be.

WLJ: What was the last book that you read?
Dickinson: ‘The Executioner’s Song’ by Norman Mailer. It’s 1,100 pages but really worth the read.

WLJ: What was the first concert you attended?
Dickinson: Neil Diamond at Summerfest. My best friend’s father took us to see him when we were in second grade. She’s still my best friend and we laugh about the fact that that was our first ‘rock’ concert.

WLJ: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Dickinson: I don’t know if this is a superpower, but I would like the ability to remember anything that has been told to me or anything I have read. It would help a lot both in my career and at home.

WLJ: Who is someone who you admire?
Dickinson: My mother. She is incredibly smart and always has excellent advice that has never failed me. She also raised two children and had a career at the same time and did both exceptionally well.

WLJ: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Dickinson: I would have more patience.

WLJ: What was your favorite toy as a child?
Dickinson: My baby doll, creatively named Tiny. My mom still has it.

WLJ: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Dickinson: Other than right here in gorgeous Milwaukee? Austin, Texas. I lived there for 10 years and absolutely love it. We will go back part-time someday.

WLJ: Is there a word or phrase that you tend to overuse?
Dickinson: ‘Seriously?!’ I find myself saying it a lot at home and also at work. I should stop being surprised what people do in both places.


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