When Don Gallo started his career, he was working as an engineer sitting across the table from attorneys when he had a life-changing revelation.
“I realized that I didn’t fully understand the legal process and the lawyers in the room didn’t understand the technical process,” Gallo said. “It made me think that if someone had the knowledge of both areas, it would be very productive. So that is why I went into law.”
After graduating from Marquette University Law School in 1990, he set out to devote his practice to environmental, real estate and business matters.
“I started working in environmental law at a time when it was significantly expanding in terms of air permits, water permits and hazardous-waste regulations,” he said. “It was a huge opportunity and it certainly helped to have the background that I have.”
Now a partner in Axley Attorneys’ Environmental Practice Group, he has more than 30 years of legal experience and more than 40 years of environmental-engineering experience.
In the course of his practice, Gallo has helped clients on a broad range of environmental issues such as wetland and waterway permitting, hazardous-waste compliance and brownfield-development projects.
Beyond advising clients, he serves as president of the Tall Pines Conservancy, a nonprofit group that aims to preserve farmland, water resources and natural areas and open spaces near or in northwestern Waukesha County.
“Don is deserving of this honor because he leads by example,” said Thomas Hofbauer, a partner at Axley.
Gallo presides over Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, a nonprofit group that works with inner-city children and other volunteers on environmental instruction and projects to clean up neighborhoods. He also serves on advisory committees for the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Commerce regulations.
“Great attorneys use their talents and skills not only to advance their clients’ interests, but to craft tangible solutions to problems that make life better for everyone,” Hofbauer said. “I cannot think of an attorney who has done more than Don to improve our water and soils, clean up our neighborhoods and leave a lasting legacy of real world solutions to the forces that threaten our environment.”