Retiring Quarles & Brady attorney called his own Schott during his career.

Byline: Dan Shaw,

Better than most, Don Schott understands Merrick Garland's pain.

Like Garland, Schott -- a longtime Quarles & Brady attorney who retired at the end of last month -- was appointed in 2016 to a seat on a federal court by former President Barack Obama. And just as Garland saw his hopes of joining the U.S. Supreme Court dashed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to approve any of Obama's nominees until after the election, so Schott was denied his opportunity to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. (Although Schott, unlike Garland, did at least receive a hearing before the Senate confirmation committee.)

For Schott, a seat on a federal bench would have been the perfect cap to a career dedicated to litigating on the behalf of business clients of all stripes. Five years on, his feelings about the outcome remain mixed.

"On the one hand, it was a great honor to be nominated. I was truly humbled by the entire experience," he said. "On the other hand, I really would have appreciated the opportunity to end my career in public service. But given all the good things that have happened to me, it's hard to feel too disappointed."

Schott's list of accomplishments is long. Graduating with honors from Harvard Law School in 1980 -- after majoring in political science and history at UW-Madison -- Schott joined Quarles & Brady's Milwaukee office almost immediately. He started as a litigator and remained one for his entire career, relishing every chance he had to take a case to trial. His expertise touched on everything from securities, business fraud and commercial disputes to health care and energy-related disputes.

His hard work, honesty and intelligence eventually earned him a place on the firm's executive committee, on which he served from 1999 to 2016. Just before his retirement, he was serving as general counsel to Quarles & Brady, providing legal advice to the firm and its roughly 1,000 employees on subjects ranging from ethics to conflicts of interest.

Schott recently sat down with the Wisconsin Law Journal to reflect on his career at Quarles & Brady and the state of U.S. judicial system in general. (This article has been edited for brevity and clarity.)


Wisconsin Law Journal: When you started out, how did you set about building your practice?

Schott: I didn't necessarily want to have any particular specialty. I was instead looking for cases that had a strong chance...

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