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Larson serves the public interest

Eric Larson - partner, Arenz, Molter, Macy, Riffle & Larson SC - Legal degree obtained from: University of Minnesota Law School, 1990

Eric Larson – partner, Arenz, Molter, Macy, Riffle & Larson SC – Legal degree obtained from: University of Minnesota Law School, 1990

A crumbling pedestrian bridge in Fox Point is not a political lightning rod like some of Wisconsin’s recent contentious debates around the state Capitol. But Fox Point village residents didn’t treat the bridge lightly, filling public meetings and throttling trustees to take action.

Eric Larson, a Waukesha resident, said municipal issues of all sizes deserve the same clear, by-the-book legal direction to, ultimately, “foster strong communities.”

“We operate under a microscope with our clients all the time and we have to be careful to be diplomatic,” said Larson, who was the legal backbone on a unified deal for public-private revamping of the Fox Point walking bridge. “You always have to be sure the advice you’re giving is right straight down the middle.”

Larson represents six municipalities in southeastern Wisconsin of the 50 covered by the Waukesha-based firm where he’s a shareholder at Arenz, Molter, Macy, Riffle & Larson SC. The University of Minnesota Law School grad said he’s been fascinated with the law since his undergrad days. That led to stints as a clerk with a state judge in Minnesota and a lawyer in a county attorney’s office.

When his wife, Susan Lewis, landed a biology professorship at Carroll University, Larson went with her to Waukesha, and for the last two decades has been at the firm which now bares his name. Larson said the commonality in each municipality he represents is that they strive for good governance. In what he does, that means loading up on work in a range of topics, including corporation law, bankruptcy, zoning, contracts, ordinances and, the one he “tries to prevent,” litigation.

He’s become a learned voice on the little big issues in municipal law, such as communications towers, leading him to speak regularly at the Wisconsin Towns Association and League of Wisconsin Municipal Attorneys.

Outside of municipal work, the Northfield, Minn., native runs, skis the Birkebeiner and plays taxi driver to his teenage son and daughter.

His belief in a functional community extends to the Hope Center, a Waukesha County non-profit. Larson was on the board but wanted to do more to bridge the gap of the organization’s fundraising and administrative work.

“The 99 percent of those we serve are those who just lost a job or are about to get kicked out of their apartment. They just need to get over the hump and a little assistance,” he said.

Todd Marshall, general manager of the Waukesha group, said Larson’s utilitarian roles bring in more than $200,000 a year, covering everything from clothes to rent for more than 5,500 county residents every year.

“If we can’t find a specific chair for an event, Eric takes it upon himself to do it,” Marshall said. “He is very hands-on with the lifeblood of our organization.”

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