E-mail MeLester A. Pines
Lester Pines is a Senior Partner in the firm. In practice since 1975, he leads the Litigation area, concentrating in civil trials, criminal defense, labor & employment, and business.
Professional Activities and Experience
A Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, Lester Pines is a respected civil and criminal litigator and appellate advocate who has appeared in courts throughout Wisconsin and litigated matters in numerous federal districts and appeals courts. He frequently argues cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and is known for his outstanding oral arguments.
His wide-ranging civil trial practice encompasses intellectual property disputes, constitutional and civil rights claims, employment, personal injury and commercial cases. He regularly defends doctors and lawyers who have been administratively accused of violating the rules governing their professions. 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.
Most recently he represented clients who successfully challenged the newly enacted Voter I.D. law and Act 10, the legislation that virtually eliminated collective bargaining in Wisconsin for teachers and municipal employees. He previously prevailed on behalf of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in a case brought by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen that was widely believed to be an attempt to suppress voting in the 2008 Presidential election. In 2010 in the Wisconsin Supreme Court he represented the Zurich American Insurance Company the case of Miller v Hanover Insurance, which reversed a $2,000,000 default judgment against his client and resulted in a significant change in Wisconsin law regarding relief from such judgments. In 2011, representing the State of Wisconsin, he prevailed against a constitutional challenge to the State Domestic Partnership law.
He has broad experience with original actions in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He successfully argued the case of Thompson v. Craney, 199 Wis. 2d 674 (1996), an original action in that court, which has been described as one of the Court's most significant interpretations of the Wisconsin Constitution. He argued another original action in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Wisconsin Professional Police Association v. Lightbourn, 2001 WI 59,243 Wis. 2d 512, (2001), which challenged the constitutionality of legislation requiring certain distributions from the trust funds of the Wisconsin Retirement System. In 2011, in an original action he participated in the longest oral argument in the history of Wisconsin Supreme Court in the case of State ex rel Ozanne v Fitzgerald, 2011 WI 43, 334 Wis. 2d 70.
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.
- Enterasys Networks, Inc.
- Isthmus Publishing, Inc.
- League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
- Adjunct Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School, Pre-Trial Civil Advocacy
Honors and Awards
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2004 - Present
- 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
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American College of Trial Lawyers
- 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
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