Donald Christl has been a mainstay in Milwaukee legal circles for more than 50 years.
“I started as the eighth name on the firm’s letterhead and finished, for the last five years or so of my active practice, as the first name on a list of 238 attorneys,” said Christl, who is of counsel to Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.
Throughout his storied career, Christl has always been willing to do the sorts of hard jobs that may give rise to white knuckles among less-seasoned attorneys.
“He asks the meaningful questions, the questions that drive others to gain perspective, see things differently and seek progress. He is consistently the one to offer to lead,” said Gary Van Domelen, principal at his namesake law firm and chairman of the Office of Lawyer Regulation Board of Administrative Oversight, for which Christl has been a volunteer board member since 2014.
Christl’s work has taken him around the world. He has spoken about U.S. tax and benefits laws on four other continents. His work has also brought him before distinguished bodies, such as the House Ways and Means Committee in the early ‘80s, when he testified about tax-qualified retirement plans.
Now at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, he advises individuals, medical-practice groups and closely held businesses on a wide range of tax, management and employee-benefit matters.
“My work with closely held businesses allowed me to facilitate their growth and ultimate prosperity,” Christl said. “One client literally started a business in his garage which, 30 years later, we sold on his behalf for $1 billion.”
He has also found satisfaction in pioneering the use of tax-qualified areas and similar devices, as well as generally finding ways to bring two disputing parties together to reach resolutions benefiting them both.
A husband and father of two, Christl said being able to strike a balance is indispensable for someone in his profession. He has done that through his public service outside the legal world, such as his work with the Boy Scouts and charitable groups.
He encourages young professionals to find ways to find time for themselves in their hectic work schedules.
“To do so should allow you an extremely rewarding and — regardless of the definition you select — successful career,” he said.
Christl’s long career is worthy of recognition “not only because of his longstanding commitment to serving the public through his profession, but because of the heart he brings to the task,” Van Domelen said. “Don is a visionary and a consensus builder.”