Evan Tenebruso doesn’t come from the usual lawyer stock.
Coming from a working-class background, Tenebruso waited tables for 40 to 50 hours a week at the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery on the East Side of Madison throughout college and law school.
That was in addition to taking a full-time class load. The stress at his current job as a litigator with Boardman & Clark in Madison is small potatoes compared with what he went through to eventually get there.
“I get a lot more sleep than I did back then,” Tenebruso said.
He said his previous experience taught him not only to work hard but also to be efficient and make the most of his time – all of which helps him now in his legal practice.
Tenebruso, a 2011 University of Wisconsin Law School graduate, says he enjoys the rare opportunity to argue a case to a jury and tell his client’s story. That’s the most fulfilling part of his job.
But he also finds satisfaction being able to take a load off his clients’ shoulders.
Tenebruso says he is grateful for the opportunities that have been opened to him by lawyers at Boardman & Clark. Among the colleagues who have done the most for him are Cathy Rottier, Claude Covelli, Amanda Kaiser and Sarah Zylstra.
“Cathy is the greatest lawyer I’ve ever seen in terms of her knowledge of the law and her skill in the courtroom but also her dedication to civility and being respectful of everyone in the courtroom,” he said.
Although it seems common sense, remaining respectful in the court room sometimes requires walking a fine line between being a zealous advocate and showing some understanding toward the other side. The difficulties of his situation were brought home in a recent wrongful death case he tried with Kaiser. It involved mounting a defense against the claims of five plaintiffs whose mother had died in part due to negligence on the part of Kaiser and Tenebruso’s client.
“We had to be very sensitive to the other side and be very respectful of our adversary,” he said.
Kaiser said the case is an example of how Tenebruso is not only good at what he does but also works well with people and has a great courtroom manner. One of the plaintiffs, Kaiser said, came up to Tenebruso over the break to tell him what a nice person he was and that he was doing a good job.
“Even though she knew he was the enemy, she warmed up to him,” Kaiser said.