Joseph M. Russell

Joseph M. Russell, Von Briesen Law Firm, Milwaukee, Litigation Attorney
Organization Profile
Professional Biography

Joseph Russell is a Shareholder in the Litigation and Risk Management Practice Group with broad experience in commercial, constitutional and environmental matters in federal and state trial and appellate courts and arbitrations in Wisconsin and throughout the United States. Joe’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, including shareholder, healthcare fraud, product liability, franchise, mass tort, toxic tort, and class action litigation. In particular, Joe has spent many years of his practice defending corporate entities regarding environmental spills, pollution and hazardous material releases. Joe also has experience in defending state, county and local government entities in high-profile federal actions alleging civil-rights violations, ranging from freedom-of-speech to police-misconduct issues. 

In addition to his courtroom practice, Joe represents corporations, management and individuals in connection with government investigations (both federal and state), enforcement actions, internal investigations and liability reviews. The subjects of these investigations and reviews range from fraud to data breaches to sexual misconduct.

Joe serves as the firm’s Ethics Counsel. In this role, he addresses ethics and risk management issues for our firm. Joe also serves as Chair of the Wisconsin lawyer regulation system’s Board of Administrative Oversight, which monitors the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the attorney regulation system in Wisconsin.

Prior to joining von Briesen, Joe was a partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and, earlier in his career, worked in the Civil Division (Torts Branch) of the United States Department of Justice. During law school Joe served as an extern to U.S. District Court Judge Ruben Castillo (Chief Judge of the Northern District of Illinois).

Joe is active in both pro bono and charitable endeavors. In 2020, Joe received the Milwaukee Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for an individual attorney. He is also the recipient of the 2019 Seventh Circuit Bar Association Pro Bono & Public Service Award for his pro bono work in the U.S. District Courts of Wisconsin, in which he has tried cases to verdict. He has also briefed and argued criminal appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals (Seventh Circuit) and served as class counsel for over 4,000 individuals who resided in state-funded institutions for mental disease who now have the opportunity to move into and receive services in community-based housing (Williams v. Quinn, N.D. Illinois). He was the recipient of the Access Living 2012 “Lead On!” Award for representing individuals with mental illness.

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