Long before Susan Tyndall began law school, she was destined to do appellate work.
She grew up in Mundelein, Ill., scribbling on proofs of law books published by Callaghan & Co., which used to publish the Wisconsin Reports. And during her summers as an undergraduate student, Tyndall worked as a proofreader there.
At the end of her stint, Callaghan gave her a slug of type that read “Appellate Practice in Wisconsin.”
Decades later, Tyndall, a shareholder at Habush Habush & Rottier in Wauskesha, has become an expert in appellate work, shaping the state’s insurance and personal-injury law.
What she loves most about the work is its consistency. She contrasts it with cases in which a witness’s testimony can change without notice during a trial or deposition.
“It allows you to have everything together,” Tyndall said. “The record’s all put together. They can’t change anything, so you can now go through it and organize it the way you like. … I like that I’m not faced with those unexpected things all the time.”
The practice can be odd in at least one way. Although the material she is dealing with usually stays the same, arguments have to be tailored for use in different courts, Tyndall said.
“It’s a weird practice area because in appellate court you’re trying to go for error correction,” Tyndall said. “In the Supreme Court, you’re trying to go for law development.”
And along the way to becoming an expert appellate practitioner and shaping the law, she has also broken barriers that had once hindered women’s advancement in the profession.
Tyndall holds the record for having the most cases argued by a woman civil-trial lawyer before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
A majority of the arguments that women have presented to the Wisconsin Supreme Court have been presented by public-interest lawyers, who are typically representing government agencies.
Tyndall, for her part, has argued 12 cases before the justices and is scheduled to argue another one during the court’s next term.
“It’s kind of fun,” she said, “I used to say, ‘A lot of lawyers like asking the questions. I don’t mind answering some.’ If you’re able to answer the questions, think of what they might ask and be prepared and ready to go, it can be fun to do the oral argument.”