E-mail MeLester A. Pines
Lester Pines is a Senior Partner in the firm.
A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he is a respected civil and criminal litigator and appellate advocate. In his over 40 years of practice, he has appeared in trial and appellate courts throughout Wisconsin, in numerous federal district courts, and before the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. After a recent trial, one of Lester's clients wrote:
Seeing you in action was like watching an artist create a classic painting from a blank canvas but instead of paint you used facts, figures and, most importantly, words to achieve a masterpiece in the courtroom.
His wide-ranging civil trial practice encompasses commercial claims, employment disputes, constitutional and civil rights matters, personal injury and intellectual property cases. His criminal defense work has involved many high profile cases, especially involving teachers, police officers and other public employees. He is counsel to Madison Teachers Inc., which represents the employees of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Recent challenges to the constitutionality of newly enacted laws that Lester brought on behalf of his clients include:
- A challenge to Wisconsin's Voter I.D. law for the League of Women Voters.
- Challenges by Planned Parenthood to laws limiting access to abortion services.
- An action to defeat legislation aimed at limiting the power of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, representing a citizen group.
Previously, in cases in which he was appointed by former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, Lester defended Wisconsin's law creating domestic partnerships for same sex couples and stopped an attempt by then Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to suppress voting in the 2008 Presidential election.
Among the many cases Lester has argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, two in particular have shaped Wisconsin law. In 2010 he represented the Zurich American Insurance Company in Miller v Hanover Insurance, securing the reversal of a $2,000,000 default judgment against his client and achieving a significant change in Wisconsin law regarding relief from such judgments. In an original action in 1996, he successfully argued the case of Thompson v. Craney, which delineated the constitutionally vested powers of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and protected them from being altered by the Legislature.
Areas of Practice
- 20% Criminal Defense
- 70% Civil Litigation
- 10% Appellate
- 90% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
- Wisconsin, 1975
- U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin, 1975
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1976
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois, 2005
- U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan, 2008
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 1975
- U.S. Supreme Court, 1986
- University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, Wisconsin
- J.D. - 1974
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
- B.A. - 1972
- Honors: With Distinction
- Major: History
- Sierra Club v. Franklin County Power of Illinois LLC, et al., 546 F.3d 918 (7th Cir. 2008)
- In re Storms v. Action Wisconsin, Inc., 2008 WI 56, 309 Wis. 2d 704, 750 N.W.2d 739
- Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Wisconsin Education Association Council, 2005 WI App 180, 703 N.W.2d 711
- Witte v. Department of Corrections, 434 F.3d 1031 (7th Cir. 2006)
- Wisconsin Professional Police Association v. Lightbourn, 2001 WI 59, 243 Wis. 2d 512, 627 N.W.2d 807
- Thompson v. Craney, 199 Wis. 2d 674 (1996)
- State ex rel Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 2011 WI 43, 334 Wis. 2d 70
- Miller v. Hanover Insurance Company, WI 75, 326 Wis. 2d 640 (2010)
- Madison Teachers, Inc.
- League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
- Adjunct Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School, Pre-Trial Civil Advocacy
Honors and Awards
- Wisconsin Super Lawyer (General Litigation), 2005 - 2014
- Best Lawyers in America, White Collar & Non-White Collar Criminal Defense, and Labor & Employment
- Ben Minkoff Volunteer Service Award, Madison Jewish Community Council, 2004
- Harry & Velma Hamilton Branch Service Award for exemplary volunteer efforts, NAACP Madison Branch, 2009
- Fair Wisconsin Leadership Award, 2010
- University of Wisconsin Law School Adjunct Professor of the Year, 2010
- Wisconsin Law Journal "Leader in Law", 2011
- Alex Temkin Distinguished Service Award, Jewish Federation Madison, 2014
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Bar Association, Litigation Section
- Wisconsin Association for Justice
- Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- American Association of Justice
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- James E. Doyle Chapter of the American Inns of Court, President, 2002-2007
- Downtown Madison Rotary
- Jewish Federation of Madison Board of Directors, President, 2007 - 2010
Past Employment Positions
- Frankel Langhammer & Pines, Partner, 1975 - 1979
- Langhammer & Pines, Partner, 1979 - 1983
Pro Bono Activities
- Jewish Federation of Madison Board of Directors; President, 2007 - 2010