James A. Walrath

Email: James A. Walrath | Phone: 414-272-1424

James A. Walrath,  is “of counsel” to the firm. He has more than 40 years of litigation and appellate experience in the federal courts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Florida and Nevada, as well as state courts in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Missouri. His trial practice involves a full range of pretrial motions, jury selection, and trial advocacy in criminal and civil cases reaching verdicts and settlements. He has also presented oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court (in Washington, D.C.), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (in Chicago), the Wisconsin Supreme Court (in Madison), and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals (in Milwaukee and Madison).  His litigation has also involved representation for consumers pursuing class action litigation against major national companies, reaching settlements in excess of $20 million.  He appears as counsel in nearly 100 reported federal and state decisions around the country.

After graduation from the University of Michigan Law School, Walrath received a University of Pennsylvania Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship which led to his directorship of the first federal law reform program in Wisconsin.  He then associated with the firm of Shellow, Shellow & Glynn, S.C. for 15 years, where he focused primarily on criminal defense representation. In 1991 he became Litigation Director and Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, where he founded the first low-income taxpayer law clinic in Wisconsin funded by the Internal Revenue Service.  In 2005 he was appointed Federal Defender in Wisconsin, overseeing a staff of criminal defense attorneys, investigators and appointed counsel for indigent defendants in all federal courts in Wisconsin.

Jim Walrath and his wife, Mary Ward, enjoy their leisure time with their two sons and their families in Brookfield, Wisconsin and Whitefish, Montana, and with friends in Milwaukee. Their outdoor interests include kayaking, fishing, bicycling and hiking.

Admissions and Licenses:

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court and State Bar of Wisconsin, 1968
  • United States Supreme Court, 1971
  • United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1971
  • Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, 1968
  • Northern District of Florida, 2009


  • Lawrence University, B.A. with honors, 1965
  • University of Michigan, J.D., 1968

Professional Memberships (Past and Present):

  • Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (Past President)
  • Wisconsin Equal Justice Coalition Board of Directors
  • State Bar of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Bar Association (Committee Chair positions)
  • Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates

Honors and Awards (Selected):

  • AV Peer Review rating from Martindale-Hubbell
  • Equal Justice Award recipient from the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, presented by Governor Jim Doyle
  • State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono Award
  • Milwaukee Magazine’s “Best Lawyer” series
  • University of Pennsylvania, Reginald Heber Smith Fellow

Teaching Positions (Selected):

  • Marquette University Law School, Adjunct Professor
  • University of Wisconsin Law School, Guest Lecturer
  • Continuing Legal Education speaker: National Consumer Law Center; Wisconsin State Public Defender; State Bar of Wisconsin; Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association; Professional Education Systems