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Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL)

About the WACDL


  • Members: 400+
  • Focus: Criminal Defense
  • Executive Director: Peter McKeever
  • Location: Monona, Wisconsin
  • Website: www.wacdl.com
  • President: Aaron A. Nelson
  • OrgType: Nonprofit

Mission and History

The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, also known as WACDL, Inc., has more than 400 members who are private attorneys and public defenders practicing criminal law across the state. As an affiliate of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the WACDL provides support and training to criminal defense attorneys statewide and promotes the proper administration of criminal justice. 

The WACDL provides attorneys with a list serve to exchange of information between colleagues and a brief bank which to have expert material to fall back on for cases. The WACDL also hosts live events and seminars all year long and other programs for lawyers to connect with one another. 

Wisconsin criminal defense lawyers are eligible to join WACDL. Members must certify that they are "committed to the fair administration of justice and the defense of individuals accused of crime." Employees of any prosecutor or law enforcement officers are not eligible to join WACDL.



Board of Directors

Aaron Alan Nelson
New Richmond, WI
Michael R Cohen
President Elect
Eau Claire, WI
Jessa K Nicholson
Madison, WI

Past Presidents

Chad Allen Lanning
Immediate Past President
West Bend, WI
Tracey Ann Wood
Middleton, WI
Stephen J Meyer
Madison, WI

David C. Niblack Award Recipients

Dave Niblack was Wisconsin's State Public Defender from 1979 until 1983. He died unexpectedly in the Fall of 2000, but will always be remembered by those for whom he advocated, and those he taught or befriended. He was a good friend to anyone committed to the protection of rights for the least popular among us. When our clients had no one to stand with them, Dave stood with them. He delighted in teaching young attorneys the way, and sure knew how to tell a story. Under his leadership, the SPD as we know it today survived in a period of daily attack and controversy. 

To honor Dave Niblack's memory, and to encourage others to follow in his footsteps, in 2001 the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) established the David C. Niblack Award, to be given every December at the WACDL Ethics seminar in Madison, at which Dave taught. 

The purposes of this award:

  1. To recognize the contributions of an attorney to the effective defense of the indigent, either cumulative career contributions or outstanding accomplishments.
  2. To honor and preserve the memory of an outstanding attorney who devoted his life and considerable talents to the defense of those who needed it but could not pay for it.

Criteria: Pride and professionalism in the work; competence in provision of services; respect for the clients.

Michael E Covey
Madison, WI
Sam Benedict
Sam Benedict
Milwaukee, WI
Henry R Schultz
Crandon, WI

WACDL Members Active on Lawyer Legion

Tracey Ann Wood
Tracey Wood & Associates
Middleton, WI
View Profile
Nathan J Dineen
Nathan J. Dineen Attorney At Law
Milwaukee, WI
View Profile
John A Birdsall
Birdsall Law Offices SC
Milwaukee, WI
View Profile
Matthew R. Meyer
Meyer Van Severen, S.C.
Milwaukee, WI
View Profile
Chadwick J. Kaehne
Kaehne, Cottle, Pasquale & Associates, S.C.
Appleton, WI
View Profile
Craig Mastantuono
Mastantuono & Coffee S.C.
Milwaukee, WI
View Profile

Contact the WACDL

Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL)
P.O. Box 6706
Monona, WI 53716-6706
Office: (608) 223-1275
Office: (608) 223-9329

Online Profiles

More About the WACDL


The membership of WACDL is meant to foster a community of criminal defense lawyers who are committed to promoting the proper administration of justice and encouraging an unyielding concern for the protection of individual rights and due process. Members must abide by the confidentiality practices set within the organization. Members include both new and long-term attorneys practicing criminal defense. Part-time or full-time prosecutors or judges may not join WACDL. 

Benefits of Membership

The benefits for Wisconsin lawyers joining the WACDL includes:

  • Access to the WACDL listserve where members can ask questions or share information with other members through a email-based exchange;
  • Copy of a quarterly newsletter with updates on the organization's news and events and articles on practice tips or recent appellate decisions of importance to the practice of criminal defense in Wisconsin;
  • Listing on the "Find a Lawyer" section of the WACDL website which operates not just as a membership directory but also as a searchable database for the public interested in finding an attorney in a particular practice area; and
  • Discounted rates on CLE seminars sponsored by WACDL.

Directory of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Wisconsin

Lawyer Legion maintains a statewide directory of criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin which includes both WACDL members and non-members. To help the public find the best choices when searching for a criminal defense attorney, Lawyer Legion recognizes attorneys for their involvement and leadership within the WACDL and other professional associations. This includes recognition for WACDL past presidents and WACDL members who have updated their Lawyer Legion profile to include information about their involvement with the WACDL.

Use this directory to find a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer in your local area. Start by choosing your county from the list below.

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