Russell Nicolet: Midwest Billboard Icon

Who’s the man behind the 275ish billboards across the state? Join us as we sit down with Russell Nicolet, from a humble start practicing law out of a small room in the Wisconsin’s North Woods to creating a very recognizable and successful law firm.

Russell Nicolet: Midwest Billboard Icon

Who’s the man behind the 275ish billboards across the state? Join us as we sit down with Russell Nicolet, from a humble start practicing law out of a small room in the Wisconsin’s North Woods to creating a very recognizable and successful law firm.

Who’s the man behind the 275ish billboards across the state? Join us as we sit down with Russell Nicolet, from a humble start practicing law out of a small room in the Wisconsin’s North Woods to creating a very recognizable and successful law firm spanning multiple states, we cover his early career to where he is now. We also talk through his most rewarding cases and what it’s like hiring, and working, alongside family. After that, we dive into the craziest Wisconsin laws and Russell’s favorite Wisconsin food and drinks. With roots right here in Wisconsin, this is one story you won’t want to miss.


Russell Nicolet: I never really planned on being a lawyer. I used to like actually get so stressed out in the morning that I would eat breakfast sometimes and go throw up. Cause I mean, I was one man. I don’t know. There’s a few really crazy things. We had a whole trial over a dog. We went to a mediation at the courthouse and we get there and the mediator goes.

I just heard something this morning, guys. And I don’t think this case is going to get resolved today.

Richie Burke: Hey everyone. Welcome back to Milwaukee uncut produced in the heart of Walker’s point at Storymark studios in partnership with on Milwaukee and presented by Nicolet law. Speaking of we have the founder of Nicolet and the man.

On 250 ish billboards in this state and counting Russell Nicolet is on today’s episode and it’s a good one. If you’re interested in learning about the weirdest laws in Wisconsin that I couldn’t believe. Hearing some crazy stories from the courtroom and how he started Nicolet and grew it into what it is today.

This is a great episode for you. It’s a really good mix of storytelling, humor, and an overall great Wisconsin story. Business story before we dive in. Can’t forget about our other partner, our friends at central standard distillery who are not on the episode, but still valued sponsor of the show. Summer’s right around the corner.

Hopefully, who knows it was here in February and now it’s gone. But when it does come back, make sure to check out the rooftop. At the craft house not sure if there is a better place to enjoy a drink in milwaukee On a nice warm summer day or if you’re just looking to get after it like our good friend Joe vilmo or maybe drone a vom hoff who’s actually on milwaukee uncut soon.

He was on he made it out Till 1 a. m at the harp last week. I was very impressed. We all always recommend central standard distillery responsibly, of course All right. Let’s dive in to today’s episode with russell nicolet A lot of people don’t know a lot about you. They they’re starting to see you everywhere I think I started seeing you for the first time maybe last summer on my drive up to Green bay and you kept just popping up and popping up and I was like, who who is this guy?

But how did you initially? You Get your start. You’ve been going at it for a while

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, i’m almost on my 17th year in end of april. It’ll be 17 years as a lawyer for me. So It’s been a been a long ride, many years before I started popping out of all the billboards everywhere even though my first billboard actually was in I think 2009, but yeah, I started out in 2007 in april of 2007 as a lawyer up in hudson, wisconsin Then I got licensed in Minnesota.

Eventually I was licensed in North Dakota as well. So but I started out in Hudson, Wisconsin. I was born in Green Bay. But my wife is from Hudson and long story short, I was going to go to Marquette for law school. I was accepted. I was also accepted to a law school, which was called William Mitchell in the Twin Cities.

And my wife, I was dating at that time, lived in Hudson. So I was like, Hey, you know what, I’ll go check out the William Mitchell in the Twin Cities. And one of my buddies that had gone to Steven’s point with me I didn’t know he was going to be there. Just ended up at like the, it was kind of like not orientation because we hadn’t made a decision yet, but it’s a day where you tour.

And they like, I try to wine and dine you a bit to get you to go. And then I was like, I don’t know, this might not be bad. I’ve never lived in the cities. And so that’s where I ended up, but it’s kind of cool because I grew up on the east side of Wisconsin. I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, but I lived in Sheboygan, I think starting when I was like in preschool, they moved up to Green Bay and lived there until I graduated college.

And so we used to come to Milwaukee a lot and it’s awesome being back in Milwaukee and having an office in Milwaukee and now like physically, like being here today is great. I love Milwaukee. So.

Richie Burke: We’re happy to have you and happy to be seeing your face all over the city right now. You’re really rivaling.

I mean, Gruber’s just been all over the place for 20 years. It’s nice to see a, a new, younger, better bearded face popping up around town.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah. I saw some Gruber boards on the way in and I was thinking like, we’re kind of the total opposite cause you know, he’s got the. He’s got the long hair at least in some of his billboards now, and I, I don’t, you know, I’ve just got the, the long beard.


Richie Burke: he’s got, he’s got you beat in the hair department. He’s got me in the hair department too. And I’m a little younger than him. You and I got to stick to wearing these hats. Yeah. Congrats

Russell Nicolet: to the Groover on the hair, man. Loving it. Like, wait,

Richie Burke: How’s your company evolved you started as one person with one office I believe your was it your cousin who was working for you as a paralegal.

He’s still with the company Yeah, I believe how did things grow from there?

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, so I rented a room I think it was like 12 by 15 or something in downtown Hudson. It was In this building where like the old I think it was called the Hudson star observer, the old paper and Just got a little room and it was funny because you open the door into my office and that’s like right where we’re sitting It was kind of embarrassing because one time an opposing attorney stopped by and he opens the door and he’s like, oh, sorry, man and and then he asked if I could print something and i’m like Sound i’m Yeah, I was really new, didn’t have much stuff, didn’t have much money and he goes could you like print a copy of this for me?

I’m like, man, I just, I ran out of paper. So, you know, that was, but basically I would just kept taking anything that I made. I reinvested into the business, like marketing and trying to grow it. And my cousin he had gone to what was called Chippewa Valley Technical College. I think it’s still the same.

And he did the paralegal program there. And he was working, I don’t know if it was a, it was like some kind of title company or whatnot. And I’m like, Hey man, you want to, I need somebody to like do my paralegal work and things like that and help me. And he was like, Oh, that’d be great. Yeah. And so that was back in 2007.

And yeah, he still works there today. So

Richie Burke: that’s cool. A lot of family working for

Russell Nicolet: you. Yep. My so my cousin, obviously he joined and then my brother was in the army. He was going to Madison. He dropped out of Madison, went to the army, got injured. His now wife, but at that time was his girlfriend, we, we kind of like came up with this plan to like convince him to go back to Madison, get his degree.

And then he went to St. Thomas Law School and then he joined me. So that was pretty awesome. My, that’s my brother, two years younger than me. And then my other brother who’s eight years younger than me. It’s kind of a cool story, but like my mom and dad split up. So when I would go back home He had this like duplex we lived in and I was kind of when I was in college I was practicing for what we call the LSAT to get in the law school And I was like taking, taking practice tests and doing this stuff.

And I remember getting really frustrated. So I was like, dude, just take this. And he was a little kid then and he did pretty good on it. I’m like, man, either I’m an idiot, I’m really overthinking this. And it really was. I was overthinking it and I didn’t think anything else of it, but that was cool. You know?

And then he ended up going to Eau Claire and then one day he tells me, Hey, I’m going to law school. And so that’s pretty fun. So then he joined us as well. He went to the U of M. And yeah, so then my other brother joined as a lawyer and that’s been pretty cool. And then my sister, she joined as a paralegal.

She graduated from Eau Claire and she joined. And then eventually my mom, who’s a nurse now or wasn’t, she is a nurse still, but she now joined the office and like does a lot of record review and things with us on complicated cases because she was a nurse in the ER and like the old folks home and she has a lot of Experience that way now.

So it’s pretty cool.

Richie Burke: That’s cool. You got your mom on payroll now.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, it was awesome I mean My mom’s too like kind of a fan favorite at the office because she’s like, you know How nurses are always really like kind and caring the nicest

Richie Burke: most patient people. Yes

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, so everybody loves her The only thing is now that she works more from home after that when the pandemic started She started working from home so she’s not in as much, but yeah, like all, everybody loved her.

Like, you know, they’d ask her questions about, you know, everything. It’s when you’re a nurse, you get all kinds of questions, but yeah, so she still works with us and that’s pretty awesome.

Richie Burke: How’s the family dynamic? You arguing much with your brother or cousins or are you pretty, pretty smooth?

Russell Nicolet: It’s actually pretty smooth.

My brother Adam and I, which is the one that’s two years younger, him and I butt heads on things once in a while, but like, he’s a, he’s good, he’s a good dude, and like, a lot of times, you know, sometimes he’s right. Other times, I’m right, but he usually comes around to it. Like, so, if we get in a little bit of arguments about stuff, we usually move past it.

That’s good. That’s

Richie Burke: important when you got a family business going.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah,

Richie Burke: yeah. You’ve obviously grown a lot since those days. What was the biggest break that you’ve ever got, or when did you really start seeing a high growth trajectory?

Russell Nicolet: It’s kind of, there’s a few things that happened. I mean, I’d say the biggest break, and it sounds kind of, it’s sad for the economy, but when I was a brand new lawyer in 2007, you know, I was kind of doing, a lot of lawyers when they go out, if you’re going to be, and I don’t know how many people do it anymore, but it used to be more common, like you hang a shingle, right?

Like I said, I had that little office. So I was kind of doing general practice because you just need work. And so whatever’s coming in, I did a lot of family law. I mean, that’s how I got a lot of trial experience and courtroom experience. I was doing family law, some criminal stuff, some civil, anything that would come through the door.

And it was a lot of fun. It was pretty stressful. I mean, now looking back, it was fun, but at the time it was kind of stressful. I used to like actually get so stressed out in the morning that I would eat breakfast sometimes and go throw up. Cause I mean, I was one man. I’d, I fortunately I was able to find mentors that would like help me.

And one is a judge now and he’s still like just the other day I’d ask him for something. Just, I needed some kind of a reference thing. And you know, he’s always been there for me. It’s really cool. But basically I was doing that work and folks started calling me. Yeah. In like 2008 like hey, I’ve got these debt issues And so I was trying to find a place to send them and I people kept calling and calling And so I reached out to an attorney that was in new richmond and I said hey I think i’m gonna try some of these bankruptcy cases at that time and he’s like, well, don’t do it alone He’s like come over and he actually took me out for like a burger and stuff and he had a paralegal That was kind of a contract paralegal So then she started helping me and then I got pretty heavy into bankruptcy because we had that great recession.

So the cool thing about that I mean, obviously I helped grow the business at the time But like we got to help a lot of people out save their homes get rid of debt I actually got believe it or not I got trial experience in federal court because banks couldn’t believe that like people should be able to discharge debt So they would like argue fraud and so i’d fight for small business owners and I put you know I won against a couple banks.

So that was pretty awesome And you know you’re fighting for the little guy and the family and so that, that was, that’s kind of one of the things that got me going. And I was always doing a little bit of personal injury work, but personal injury work is really competitive. I mean, you got people like Gruber and, you know, you got Habush, there’s all these law firms and they had a big budgets and they’d been around for decades.

So it took me a long time to kind of get to the point where I could market enough, you know, had enough funds to market and just to eventually rely on it. I, you know, I was doing family law quite a bit and that’s a pretty stressful practice area. So one day I just decided you know, no more family law.

We’re just going heavy into the injury law and, you know, and that’s what we did.

Richie Burke: Was that, was that a big point for you when you were able to narrow your focus and say, Say no to other things. I know it’s, it’s hard as a business owner and we deal with this sometimes in the marketing world because there’s so many different services you can ask for, ask from people in so many different services our clients are asking for, but I feel like sometimes it’s better to just pick a lane and go all in there.

Russell Nicolet: I think you should if you can do it. I mean, like you said, when you’re starting out or when you’re just, it’s hard to say no to people. Yeah. Especially when you want to, you can know that you can help people. Especially when you’re, you know, you’re trying to make payroll for all your employees and things.

But I do think if you can get in like a, you know, a niche and you can kind of focus, you get better at it. I think the word gets out that you’re, you know, that’s what you do. You know what you’re doing. And I found out like, you know, I think for anybody, even what you guys do too, right? whatever, whatever you’re in, if you can like perfect your craft or get better and better at it, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.

I mean, one, you do a better job eventually for your customers or clients or whomever, but you start to like satisfaction, you know, cause we work obviously to earn money, to pay bills, get, you know, get food and stuff, but you start to really enjoy perfecting your craft and getting better. And that has a lot of satisfaction.

I think that’s, Even another reason to like focus it when you’re able to do it.

Richie Burke: Yeah, I agree. Very well said. Sticking on the business side of things, how is your marketing really evolved over the years? I heard you designed your first billboard, that billboard that was in 2009, I believe.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, yeah.

Basically, one day I was like, man, I should get a billboard. So I put a billboard on when you’re coming back from the Twin Cities to get to Wisconsin. How big were you at this

Richie Burke: time?

Russell Nicolet: Oh man, I probably was like, I might have had two employees, like a cousin and maybe a legal assistant. So, yeah, probably a legal assistant.

And it’s funny because I have like some folks too that were, work for me part time, you know, and help out here and there. So, I might have had two employees maybe, besides myself. But I was like, you know what, I’m getting this billboard because all the traffic commuting back to Wisconsin from the cities.

If I have a billboard, they’re all going to know me and see me. So I put up a billboard and I’d really just took this picture that I think I had my wife take that I’d put up On my website was just like me standing in this Kind of it wasn’t a courthouse, but it was like it looked like a courthouse in downtown st Paul like it was a cool area It was I think the James J Hill library so kind of historic and really cool So I put that up and then next I like all the I think all my practice areas which were mini at the time And it was just a lot.

I don’t think it was a success. I do know the people that did see it were generally like other lawyers and judges. And I, not everybody thought that was pretty cool. They were kind of like, well, you got a billboard, you know, what kind of lawyer are you going to be? And all this stuff. But it was a start.

You know, so you have to, sometimes you just have to try something and see how it works and eventually evolve to where we are now. But you know, you’re talking. Over a

Richie Burke: decade later. You have a very hectic life. So you’re a practicing lawyer. You’re responsible for running a business You have five kids that are all between the ages of like 5 and 14 or something in that range How do you how do you balance everything?

Yeah, I mean I’ve got one business and a puppy and it’s it’s a little hard. Hey puppies are a lot of

Russell Nicolet: work though Yeah, so yeah one you’re pretty close three to fourteen five different five boys. And yeah, it’s it’s it’s tough I mean, I’m gone a lot, especially during the week, but on the weekends I try to be home and like, you know, I’ve actually got into coaching one of their basketball teams at the YMCA So that’s been pretty fun So I try to do somebody told me a long time ago like when you’re gonna be that with them be present so You know rather than like hanging out at home, but you’re checking your phone or whatever So I try to balance it, but i’m not great at it.

But at the same point too. It’s kind of like When you choose something There’s like a good vince lombardi quote I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it But like the price for success is once you do you decide that you and your family are ready to pay it like that’s what? Happens and so hopefully when they’re when they’re older, they won’t hold it against me, but I do work hard I mean, I haven’t been involved in some of my commercials, but I do work hard as when I’m home to be present and to like, to get to some, you know, to do things with them.

And we go on vacations, like I’m working hard right now so I can go on this vacation in the first two weeks of April because then I got trials after that. So I try to do that stuff. So they have some good memories every year. You know, we went out snowboarding in January out to Colorado for a week. So like, that’s pretty cool.

And then we have a cabin in Northern Wisconsin and what we typically do now in the summer is, They’ll like live up there and then I’ll use that as my kind of home base. So I have a little like bunkhouse thing right by the water that uses my office and then I’ll just drive to court, you know, so I might be actually living out of a hotel in some other town.

But when I come back home, I’m not going to Hudson. I’m going up to the cabin. So, so hopefully when they’re older, they’ll, they’ll, it’ll be, they won’t be upset with me. But that’s

Richie Burke: how you’re coaching hoops. How old is that one?

Russell Nicolet: He is in sixth grade. So fifth and sixth graders, man.

Richie Burke: How many technical fouls have you gotten?


Russell Nicolet: Okay, well, so here I’m pretty good because, and this is one of the reasons is as a, so, you know, my oldest is 14. So I watched a lot of basketball and I’ve seen the coaches and I’ve seen the fans and I do get excited, but I’ve always really tried to work on keeping it positive. So the why I was asking me to coach the next session because I think I think I’m taking a break and they’re telling me like you get so energetic out there and I really try to keep it all very positive.

So I haven’t got any technicals. I do when they’re not listening, though, I will come out with kind of the angry time out, you know, like time out, you know, like, get in here, guys. But I figured to like one of the things, you know, it’s fifth and sixth grade basketball and you’re in there, they’re getting better.

And I feel like it’s a fundamental thing. And we’re learning there. I keep the practices high pace because I’m kind of that guy to have that energy. But at the end of the day to like, I think in a lot of us learn this and you probably if you played sports to write like sports are more than just a sport itself.

It’s like teamwork. It’s ups and downs. It’s like life lessons. So I’m trying to incorporate that. I mean, I’m not perfect at it, but I’m also like teaching them that like, you know, there’s just because you didn’t make a basket like you might have said an awesome pick. Like there’s so many things that you can do.

And then on top of it, like just being a good sport, being a good teammate. You know, knocking down. I mean, there’s games where we’ve been down and we’re in the scores, right? But they, they’re, we get to halftime and bam, you know, we come back and win it. And it’s just like, there’s so many life lessons. So.

But yeah, I haven’t got any technicals. Hopefully I don’t, I just get the angry time out. Once I

Richie Burke: had to ask. So my dad who was also on the road a ton for business when I was growing up, he was my middle school basketball coach, fifth through eighth grade, and had to give John Burke a shout out to career technical fouls in the Madison parochial school league he had.

One clipboard toss and then was melting off to a ref once. I remember who I think was a high schooler with a ponytail, turned around and told them to be an example and got them out of there, man. Shout out to JB. Great shout out.

Russell Nicolet: Hey, I mean, the cool thing is. Obviously he had a lot of heart and energy in the game, you know, and it’s, it’s, it’s sports are that way.

You get into it, man. You get into it. And

Richie Burke: he had, he had a lot of heart and energy guy. Guy only has one gear. Absolutely. I love that. Great human being though. Yeah. Very awesome. Yeah. Those are great memories growing up. Yeah. So that’s cool. You’re doing that. All right. Let’s move on to some quicker questions.

The craziest thing that you have ever seen in a courtroom? Well,

Russell Nicolet: I don’t know. There’s a few really crazy things. I’d say one crazy event when I was actually family law is we had a whole trial over a dog. So that was really crazy. Now, and I’m not saying anything wrong with the dog, but About

Richie Burke: custody of the dog?


Russell Nicolet: of the dog. And my guy was this really big guy with his little dog, and it, his soon to be ex wife, well, like, apparently it was, she was the one who wanted the dog, but you know how dogs are, right? Like, the dog might become, sometimes it’s one family member they just bond with, right? And so he really wanted the dog, and I was like, alright, man, well in Wisconsin, unfortunately, dogs are just considered property, right?

So they’re just divided like normal property. But, I had an idea the judge was probably a dog guy, because I grew up around dogs too, and he just kind of, I don’t know, I had a feeling. So the other attorney goes in with the whole judge, this is property, blah, blah, blah. And I told my guy, when you get up on the stand, you’re going to tell this judge how much every little thing that this dog means to you.

It walks. So he gets up there and, you know, I go through all of it and he just talks about how much he loves this dog. And yeah, he wasn’t, didn’t want to buy the dog originally, but over the last so many years, they’ve become best buddies. And then we get done and the judge says in Wisconsin, dogs are property, but we all know they’re locked.

And I was like, we won. And so we won on the dog thing. And I mean, he was so happy, but it was, it was this, it was, so that was, I don’t know if that was a crazy story, but I, I remember telling the other attorney beforehand, I said, are we going to have a whole trial here on a dog? And he’s like, yo. And I was like, okay, so

Richie Burke: how much an attorney fees do you think were racked up over that dog?

Russell Nicolet: It was like, I mean, it wasn’t a full day, but I mean, yeah, I mean, you got lawyers billing at least, back then too, I was a discount attorney because I was new, so I always gave a good discount, so maybe my fee was 125, 150 an hour or whatever, I don’t know with the other attorney, but if you add it all up together, I’m sure it was a lot, you know, it was quite a bit for that day, and we could have done, the other thing too is I also pushed out the other issues like, you know, prop, other property, bigger assets and things, but it was a good story, I think, And it was, I was really happy for him because actually when I was, cause that was when I was a smaller law office.

So most of my clients were in the community. And so I would see him out sometimes around town with the dog, right. And you’re like, Oh man, I was so happy for him. But so that’s kind of a story. You know, I’ve got some crazier stories, but that was, that was, I don’t know, that’s just a memorable story. Hey

Richie Burke: everyone.

It’s your host, Richie Burke. Just wanted to take a sec to remind you that we are picking a weekly winner. Who’s mailed one of our Milwaukee Uncut guest hats. They’re the hats we hand out to every guest that comes in the studio and a central standard gift card. All you have to do is subscribe and write a review wherever you’re listening.

Just make sure to leave your Instagram handle or email at the end of that review, so we can reach out. Also, just a reminder, Milwaukee Uncut is presented by our friends at Nicollet Law and Central Standard Distillery.

Russell Nicolet: This is just a crazy story. So I had a case because I used to do real estate litigation, like up in the North woods.

And so often what would happen is people would have You know, at one point it was potentially, like, I wouldn’t say a campground, but maybe a little resort. And not like, you know, where people had little cabins as part of a resort. Or it was owned by the family. But at some point they would, like, divide it up between the family or they’d sell it.

And we had a case where there was, you know, I represented one family member, another lawyer represented, and there was a fight over who would get what and all this stuff, and who was supposed to get what or whatever. And so we went to a mediation at the courthouse, and we get there, and the mediator goes I just heard something this morning, guys.

I don’t think this case is going to get resolved today. Okay, what’s that? He’s like, well one of the other gentlemen that’s says he’s got an ownership interest went to all the cabins last night and spray painted his name on it Like, you know like tagging like like if I write my name on it, I own it we had the case ended up going to trial and yeah, the judge was not impressed with that kind of stuff, obviously.

But yeah, you went up there. I don’t know what would possess like if you spray paint your name, it

Richie Burke: was a trial over the cabins and he just went and spray painted his name on him. Yeah. Apparently

Russell Nicolet: he thought like that would give him ownership if he wrote his name with a spray paint bottle on it, which obviously just fired up everyone else.

He wasn’t,

Richie Burke: he didn’t do it as a prank or anything.

Russell Nicolet: No, it was legit. Like he just wanted to let everybody know he was laying claim. So.

Richie Burke: That was an interesting one.

Russell Nicolet: I could see like Dwight Root from The Office doing something like that maybe. He probably would. You know, like that’s, I would, you know, I never really got to the bottom of like why, like what he thought like that would actually work, but I could see Dwight doing something like that, right?


Richie Burke: might’ve been back during the office era when it happened. He might’ve been, maybe that was his inspiration. Yeah. He saw the episode where Dwight paints the whole office black to intimidate the employees. Maybe he saw that and spray painted the cabins. Oh, maybe it was out of

Russell Nicolet: intimidation, right? He thought if he spray painted, like we would just think this guy is so wild, give him whatever he wants.


Richie Burke: I personally would not want to mess with a guy who would go out in the middle of the night and spray paint his name on, on cabins. You don’t know what that guy’s got up his sleeve. So. I don’t know if it worked out for him in the case, it seems like, maybe not,

Russell Nicolet: but. Yeah, it maybe, it would have initially, but I, I think once we went to trial, the judge was kind of like, yeah, that’s not how we claim things around here, like.

Richie Burke: Any funny or crazy loopholes that you have exposed or seen used during a case?

Russell Nicolet: I’m trying to think what would, like a loophole. I do know once when I was doing a, I was doing a trial, a divorce trial. And I’ve had a couple of these where basically, You send over what we call discovery and you’ll get, you’ll ask for all these records and documents and anything that they have and usually authorizations too.

And you’ll get the authorization sent out to whatever financials or records and then basically you get that stuff back and often times you’re going to give copies to the defense counsel but I think sometimes they just forget to look through it. So I was thinking of two instances, once I had a divorce trial.

And the, not my client, but the was going to be ex husband said on the stand that he had lost all of this investment through the market and the market was just terrible. And so I had, he had, he had only given me through his attorney, like certain statements and there was just some happening missing, but I sent out the authorization and got all the statements.

And so I’m like, you know, I got them up there. It is like, I don’t know what they call it, like a Perry Mason moment. And I’m like, so you lost all stuff. He’s like, yeah, market was terrible, man. Mark was terrible. I’m like, well, that’s really strange because right before that statement you had, and I show him the missing statement and he goes, where did you get that?

I said, from your authorization. And he starts like fake crying on the stand. I gave it all away to my son. I gave it to my son. I’m sorry, judge. And it was like the, so. I’ve had things like that happen where you like, it’s not really a loophole, but it’s just funny because like we have that too in text messages, there’ll be a driver that causes an accident.

And I had a case like that once. And he was a young kid and he went through this intersection and hit my client and the insurance company was saying like, my client was at fault. And I was like, this doesn’t make sense at all. So, and then I got his text records and again, his attorney didn’t look at them.

So we were doing a deposition. That’s where you get to ask questions on your oath. And I’m like walking him through and I’m like, so you came up to that intersection and, and what were you doing? You, you were looking down at your phone, weren’t you? And he kind of looks at me and then I slide him over the, the text thing and he didn’t even, I mean, it doesn’t have the actual text.

It just shows the time, but he knew in his heart of hearts in his head and his, he was a probably 19 year old or 20 year old kid. And he had, I also thought because he had left his girlfriend’s house and I don’t know if there’s something, maybe they’re in an argument, but you know, he’s probably texting her, she’s texting him.

Yeah. But anyway, I slide it over to him and I’m like, and you were texting right through that intersection where he goes. Yeah, it was and his dad jumps up and the lawyer jumps up and he’s like and he goes to his dad daddy busted me They take him outside and I hear all this Outside the deposition but technically in a deposition because it’s still ongoing Even though that’s your lawyer and there’s like a privilege.

It doesn’t exist in the deposition So it comes back in and I and I was being a little feisty at this point And I was like not to the kid but kind of aimed at the dad and the lawyer and I just said You know So, now that you went outside with your lawyer and your dad, and you’re gonna change your story, and then the lawyer jumps up and goes, He’s not changing his story!

And I was like, so, you’re gonna admit, right? You were texting, and, you know, the case got settled after it. But that was a, that was a pretty interesting one, so.

Richie Burke: How nervous do you get in those situations when you have to call people out for stuff? So, not

Russell Nicolet: so much, just because I’ve done it so much. I mean, sometimes you get There’s a lot

Richie Burke: at stake.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, and it’s how you do it. Like, you have to let it sit for a while and work into it. The only thing that I’ve found over time Which has been in, in credit to that kid too. Like he, I mean, yeah, he thought he was caught, but he just told the truth is, I try to get people that I’m deposing to just understand that like, and I mean, I, this sounds bad, but no matter what the defense attorney, the attorney that is, you know, basically bond paid for by the insurance company, no matter what they say, And I’m not saying all of them are bad like this because there’s a lot of good lawyers out there regardless what side you’re on That are ethical whatnot, but the truth is the truth man And like I slide up next to the client and some court reporters don’t like it because I sit too close But I just like this is your time to just you’re under oath Just tell the truth and you know I circle back and I give them a lot of opportunities and I you know Usually show them stuff that like hey, I kind of know what happened But I found out more and more that people want to tell the truth You And if you give them the opportunity to tell the truth, and often the way I like to sit next to my client, or the person I’m deposing, it’s like we have more of a conversation, and so it’s not, it doesn’t seem as formal.

They often will tell the truth. You gotta, you know, sometimes you gotta help coax them to it, but I think for them, it’s kind of like, you know, it’s just a relief, right? Like, yeah, you know, I did run that stop sign, or I did do this. And so, but you, you also get nervous because usually the night before, the morning, you realize the case hinges on you doing a good job and getting them to testify to the truth.

So he has a little bit of that nerve, but I think that’s part of the fun too is like getting amped up and ready and super focused. Right? Yeah. So

Richie Burke: what’s the most impactful case that you’ve been involved with other than the man getting to keep his dog and sitting around the neighborhood? Yeah, that was a big deal.

Russell Nicolet: You know, well, like I, so there’s a lot of cases that there’s been terrible injuries and I’ve been able to often get a substantial recovery. And many times that has started out with the actual defense taking the position that the recovery should be zero because my client was at fault. I think though, like I was telling you earlier about one time when I had a bank trying to say that my client who owned a small business had to file bankruptcy.

Because the recession happened, and then they tried to say that he got the funding through like fraud, like fraudulently obtained the funds, which wasn’t true, but the bank couldn’t just come to terms with like, you know, the guy already lost everything, let’s just hit him for some more. And so when the judge ruled in my favor that he did nothing, in my client’s favor that he did nothing wrong, him and his wife were like crying outside, and I remember just thinking like, If we didn’t win that this bank would be after him forever and now they get a fresh start.

So that that was pretty cool. I had a big jury trial verdict against a a large company with like about 12 months ago. And that company, like they were just kind of harassing my client and saying like he, he was at fault. He wasn’t really injured this and this and this. And he was the nicest guy, nice blue collar working, hardworking guy.

And when we, when the jury verdict came back and it was big, I mean, it was multi million dollar verdict. And that was just so sweet because my client was the nicest guy. And one, he deserved that money because it really impacted his life big time. He went from, you know, he was an older gentleman, but he was super active, like snowboarded did all, he did all these different activities outside, you know, snowmobiling, hiking.

He was always the guy that, like, if you needed him over, he’s helping build a house, helping build a shed, whatever. And he couldn’t do hardly anything anymore because he had neck surgery. But when we won that and it was just, I mean, the money was great for him, but it was like, no, these, this jury like of the community was like, you’re right.

You know, you were right the whole time. You’re not a liar. You weren’t making this up. You didn’t do anything wrong. And, and that was pretty awesome. And then when we were in the hallway, the jury kind of walked past and like just all gave us a nod. Like, you know, and it was, it was just really therapeutic for him to but I remember telling him cause he was super nervous.

Cause you’re just, I’m gonna be nervous. And I said, ma’am, cause he’s going to get up and try. So what’s the most comfortable place like in the world for you? He’s like sitting on my back deck with a beer. I’m like, when you’re up on the stand, I’m talking to you, you’re on your back deck with a beer man.

And he did it, you know, cause he, he was, he’s a real quiet guy, man of more of action than words, but he got up there. And. And you know, it was hard for him to tell the jury that like, yeah, I’m a changed man, not like this, but he did it. And so that, so that was really impactful, I think, for I mean, it was on me, just the whole experience, but for him and his family it was awesome.

And then that company now I heard has Has been a little bit different when they’re dealing with people that get injured on their premises So

Richie Burke: you’re ready to get in to the most bizarre laws in wisconsin. I think so Let’s see. Let’s see how well you do here. Oh, man Okay first law There’s a law that Mandates serving all apple pies in Wisconsin with a slice of cheese.

False. Correct. Wagon camping prohibition. Camping in a wagon on any public highway is prohibited in Wisconsin with violators risking a fine of up to 10.

Russell Nicolet: True.

Richie Burke: That is actually true. No butter substitutes without permission law. Butter substitutes are banned without permission in public places in Wisconsin.

Is that true? It is true. It sounds true. It is true. Alright, this one. This is a big one. You can operate your business using the hours of any time zone in Wisconsin. I think that’s false. False. There is a law against that. Accompanied women at night. This is interesting. An intriguing historical law states that women must be accompanied by a man while walking the street at night.

This unusual requirement reflects the historical context of the state’s legal landscape. Is that true? It is actually true.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah. It seems a little bit outdated. Outdated to say the least. Cause there’s probably a lot of ladies that, you know, guys that might need a lady helping them down the street too.

Right. So

Richie Burke: I would agree with that statement. I know several probably after the game last night that could have used that. Yeah. Next law, it is illegal not to give a farm animal the right of way on a public road. True. Correct. You must give a farm animal the right of way on a public road. Adultery is illegal and It is a felony with either jail time or up to a 10, 000 fine.

I think that’s still true. Correct. Those people who might be in trouble. I was gonna say, there’s a couple of laws that are outdated that maybe may There’s some people listening to this episode that may not be that happy right now. Yeah. Next law. Are you legally married after being together for seven years in Wisconsin?

Russell Nicolet: No.

Richie Burke: That is correct. There’s no common law marriage in Wisconsin. You can marry your house.

False. Correct. That is false. In La Crosse, Wisconsin, you are not allowed to play checkers within city limits. Is that true? That is true. According to the internet. You know, I think you and I are going to

Russell Nicolet: have to go out and like talk to the legislature about some of this stuff we got going on here.

Local government bodies. I could

Richie Burke: really go for a game of checkers in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Like, come on! This may be the craziest one. In Connersville, Wisconsin. Do you know where that is?

Kind of right up the road from you. I looked at it on a map. Which county is it in? Is it in Dunn County? I believe this is in Dunn County, Wisconsin. There is no shooting off a gun while your female partner is having an orgasm.

I, I don’t even,

Russell Nicolet: I don’t even know how to answer that, like, let’s go, let’s go true.

Richie Burke: True. You’re kind of acting like you didn’t, didn’t know what it was and Connorsville’s not too far away from Hudson. Did you or do you know anyone who shot off a gun while making love to a female? You know,

Russell Nicolet: I, I’ve, I’ve been involved a lot of cases.

I don’t know if I can even talk about it, but yeah, I did. I have not, I have no personal experience. You did

Richie Burke: not do that in your earlier years.

Russell Nicolet: In my earlier years? No, no, I did not. But I was thinking to myself, like. This sounds like it can’t be true, but it’s just so specific that it probably is true.

Richie Burke: So, and it said, yeah, you read that right in Connorsville.

This is the law, which means at least one person has done this before maybe, and we can formally announce it was not Russell Nicolet.

Russell Nicolet: Yes. Not me. Not me.

Richie Burke: Okay. We’ll move on just to some quick Wisconsin questions and then we will get you out of here. All right. All right. What is your favorite Wisconsin brewery?

Russell Nicolet: My favorite Wisconsin brewery. All right. So I have, I really like lakefront brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over by, in Hudson, there’s a few breweries, Hoppin Barrel, so it’s really hard to pick one, but I know Lakefront, I’ve been a huge fan of for a long time. Rush River, if you’ve ever had Rush River it’s actually like kind of in River Falls, a little bit south of

Richie Burke: I think I have.

So, Bree and I were on a a bar crawl in your area around Christmas, and I went to Hoppin Barrel, they had a Christmas cookie, It was very good, so I’m a fan of hop and barrel right on that main road in Hudson. And I think we did go to Rush

Russell Nicolet: River.

Richie Burke: Yeah. Is that the one that’s in like a massive barn type building or is that a different one?

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, there’s a warehouse. You’re thinking, I think, Tattersall. Tattersall. Okay. There’s Tattersall there too. But yeah Rush River’s got some good beer, some strong beer.

Richie Burke: There’s good beer in your neck of the woods. Yeah. Liny Lodge isn’t too

Russell Nicolet: far

Richie Burke: away.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, I think you’re, you can, if you’re, if you get a brewery that’s legit Wisconsin brewery, generally there’s going to be some good beer there, I think.

But yeah, we’re fortunate on the Western side. I mean, obviously Milwaukee’s known for beer, like, right? It’s like kind of the genesis of beer in Wisconsin. So

Richie Burke: can’t really go wrong. I’m happy to show you around sometime when it’s maybe not the middle of the day on a Thursday and you got a little more time on your hands.

Or not, right? You don’t have to sell me too hard.

What is your favorite Wisconsin food? My favorite Wisconsin

Russell Nicolet: food. That’s a really good one. I think that my favorite Wisconsin food. Probably be, if you consider Wisconsin food, it’d be like chili. Is that Wisconsin food? Can we consider that Wisconsin food?

Richie Burke: I think we can pass chili off as Wisconsin food.

I don’t know,

Russell Nicolet: I’ve always liked it. You know, in Green Bay too, we had the booyah stuff too. That was pretty good.

Richie Burke: I have no clue what that is. This could be your favorite Wisconsin food. What’s, what’s booyah?

Russell Nicolet: Well, it’s, it’s kind of like a soup mixture. But what happened, we used to, like, When I lived in Green Bay, my neighbor would basically, like, they would be, you’d have it, like, cook it outside.

It was, it was like a big thing. It was like a big kind of, like, community, almost, like, soup type thing. It was really awesome. But yeah, I mean, I, I think, like, chili is just where it’s at for me. And, I mean, and I’m Wisconsin, so I really love cheese, so I’m always putting cheese in. Probably too many crackers in it,

Richie Burke: and, you know, that’s Especially with the cheese and crackers addition, we can, we can pass chili off as favorite Wisconsin food.

Well, what’s your favorite Wisconsin food? Probably cheese curds. Yeah, I Fried cheese. I try and avoid them as much as possible, but if they’re on the menu

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, I think cheese curds are pretty much, I mean, anywhere you go and you get cheese curds, there’s usually like beer, so then you get some beer with your cheese curds, pretty awesome.

I know, where, where was I? Oh, I was at Lambeau Field, and my kids, we were getting cheese curds, and they had like chicken tenders and all that stuff, and I just wanted to not have to go back and forth, so I just bought a ton of it, right? We went out there, and my one guy, I think he’s already overdid it on junk food.

And he couldn’t eat any more of his cheese curds and this lady next to me is like That’s like a crime in Wisconsin. Not to finish your cheese curds. like, trust me, man. He’s at way too much cheese. Cause we’re not going to push him on this one, but you know, cheese curds are awesome. So

Richie Burke: you spoke of cheese curds and beer combo one good brewery with great cheese curds here is Eagle park.

All right. They have really good beer. If you want to. Have four IPAs and some cheese curds and just go into a coma for the rest of the evening. Eagle Park is a fantastic spot to do that. They have great beer. They have great curds. If you want to pound like a thousand calories worth of beer and some cheese curds on top of that, Eagle Park is my favorite place to go for that.

That sounds good. I’m gonna check it out. It is good. They got one on Brady street and then another in Muskego. Favorite Wisconsin getaway spot?

Russell Nicolet: All right. Well, so as a kid, we’d always like most people go up to Door County once in a while. Right. But my favorite, like favorite Wisconsin part is, so anywhere you can get north, like north of eight, I mean, that’s a long way from Milwaukee, but when you get north of eight.

Richie Burke: Does Minocqua qualify as that? Yeah, I think that’s north

Russell Nicolet: of eight. Yeah. Generally when we, so, because my family’s all from western Wisconsin, like the Eau Claire, Oliva area. So we would go up like you can follow the Chippewa River up and then it goes to like the, the Chippewa and the Flamborough.

And so up there’s really, really awesome area. But now where my cabin is that I have, it’s north of 8 by a considerable amount. It’s like basically in the south end of Douglas County. Douglas County is the county that Superior’s in. So it’s just the middle of nowhere. What town is

Richie Burke: it in?

Russell Nicolet: So it’s right by minog If you know like minog it’s famous for beef jerky.

That’s where the lynx beef jerky is from. Ah How far is it from superior? Some my cabin maybe 50 minutes.

Richie Burke: Okay, so you’re just a little south of there.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, and but that I mean Very very cool tons of pine trees very rural still the water up there is awesome because it’s got that kind of sandy soil You So, all the lakes, and this is kind of like if you go north of Green Bay too, like in the Krivets area, they have similar lakes that way too, but You know, not flowage.

So they’re kind of like, they call them seepage out of the water table, but like the lake that we go to, it’s like 15, 20 feet clear. Like, it’s just awesome, man. It’s so you know, they got, we got wolves up there. You’ve got all kinds of eagles.

Richie Burke: And it’s a little different than Bradford beach in Milwaukee, where I think you can see about two inches down at water park, slightly North of the city is more clear.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah. I think if you can get up into the North, which doesn’t have to be all the way up North of eight, but If you can get up there, like that’s to me, quintessential, just like Wisconsin, Northwoods relaxing. Okay. Favorite Wisconsin supper club. There’s a place called and I don’t know, I, I would call it considered a kind of a supper club and it’s, it’s near my cabin.

It’s a, it’s called a Pogo’s. But man that place is pretty sweet. So pogos pogos. Yeah, it’s right on the mine on flowage And right on

Richie Burke: the water.

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, right on the little flowage. Yeah, you pull up, you know they’ve got people and you can pull up your Pontoon they’ve actually got a little boat launch there Which is a source of entertainment too as you know boat launches all kinds of stuff happens there But yeah, it’s it’s a pretty cool place I mean, it’s like the one place to eat in that and on the flowage that like right by the right by my cabin We’ll count that pogos pogos Favorite

Richie Burke: Wisconsin sports team?

Russell Nicolet: I mean, I, so I spent most of my life in Green Bay, so it’s going to be the Packers. You know, my brother Adam and I used to go to the Packers practices and this is before Green Bay was what it is now. And so, you know, it was like the Don Hudson practice field. It was a lot different, right? And we used to go down there and I just remember it wasn’t all the fanfare.

There was like some bleachers. You could get a seat on the bleachers easy for practice. When, you know, you get further into or closer to the season. They would put up the like green tarpa on the, on the fence and my mom would pull her van up and we would sit as kids up on top and still watch. Cause like, you know, we’re not, we’re not spying for the bears, man.

But yeah, so the Packers were big for me, you know, growing up in Green Bay and like most kids too. I was talking to somebody the other day about this is like, you know, the Packer game was on and you’d be outside with your friends playing football and then like coming in and check on it. But. In the 80s and early 90s, you know, Packers weren’t doing so great.

Then obviously, Brett Favre came along and Reggie White and things changed. But yeah, Packers. I love the Brewers too. I think I told you too that my brother, when we lived in Sheboygan, my brother Adam and I and my dad would go down to Coney Stadium and that was pretty fun.

Richie Burke: Favorite Wisconsin winter activity?

Russell Nicolet: So, I used to really like to snowmobile. We, I’ve gotten, I got into snowboarding at, I think in high school. So, I’d say that’s probably it now is snowboarding. My kids, I was fortunate. I started getting them into snowboarding like when they could barely walk. And so, on what, in the western side of Wisconsin, because when I grew up in Green Bay, there wasn’t a lot of places.

I think there was like Hidden, Hidden Valley was kind of south, or you had to go up to Michigan. We’d go up to Michigan. But in by Hudson, it’s like 45 minutes from there’s Trollhagen, super good place. Or you can go over to what we call Afton Alps. It’s right, it’s, it’s part of the Epic system. So we, like where we are now, we have good access.

I mean, the snow hasn’t been great this year, but they’ve been making fake snow. But yeah, I think snowboarding is probably the big activity. I used to like to hike and, and snowshoe, but I broke my foot wakeboarding this summer. So I’ve been a little bit, yeah, it’s, it’s doing much better now. It sounds

Richie Burke: like a painful, annoying injury.


Russell Nicolet: Yeah, it was, and I like to run, and I couldn’t run, and then even though, you know, I should know better, I didn’t follow all the, the rules with the boots and the crutches, and so that delayed my, my healing, so. Doing good now? Yeah, I’m doing good now. Alright, good. Favorite summer activity? Definitely being at the lake.

Like I said, I like to wakeboard. I grew up wakeboarding a lot and so we spent a lot of time on the lake wakeboarding, and my kids like to fish a lot. Everyone was like, it’s a mini pontoon, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. It’s supposed to be like two people, but we probably put five on it. And it’s got a little electric, like trolling motor.

And so we go out and fish on that thing and they really love it. So, you know, it’s basically a hang at the lake doing fishing and then we go wakeboarding a bit and that’s pretty awesome.

Richie Burke: Nice. Final question I got for you. Is there any message or anything you want to say to the people of Milwaukee?

Russell Nicolet: Yeah, I just like, I really appreciate the fact that, I mean, it’s awesome to be back on the eastern side of Wisconsin.

Now, we’ve been here, it’s almost been two years, so, but, you know, now people are getting to know us a little bit better, but the opportunity to be here and help folks out in Milwaukee you know, that’s great. We’ve got employees and lawyers that work here. At our Milwaukee office from the Milwaukee area, and I’m hoping to get in more with the Milwaukee community.

We’ve got some partnerships on the on the horizon, and it’s great. I’m hoping to spend more time over here. Like I said, I grew up on the eastern side of Wisconsin and, you know, being in Sheboygan being in Green Bay have traveling in Milwaukee a lot. When I came into Milwaukee this morning, I was just like, Oh yeah, I, I don’t know, Milwaukee just, I love the vibe here.

I just love it, man. So I appreciate everyone that’s, you know, allowed us over the last couple of years to represent them and the folks that will in the future. And you know, hopefully We get to spend more time in the community kind of giving back and helping out and that’s what we’ll work on as well because We like to be good stewards of for the community as well

Richie Burke: Thank you to russell nicolet for dropping by the studio and coming on this episode.

Thank you for tuning in Milwaukee Uncut is produced in the heart of walkers point by story mark studios in partnership with OnMilwaukee and presented By Nicolet Law and Central Standard Distillery