2002 Wisconsin Trial Lawyer of the Year
Milwaukee Attorney Merrick Domnitz Receives the Honor

The Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers (WATL) named Merrick (Ric) R. Domnitz the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year.  Attorney Domnitz received the award at WATL’s Presidents’ Dinner on Friday, December 6, 2002 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Incoming WATL President Lynn R. Laufenberg (Milwaukee) and Outgoing WATL President Keith R. Clifford (Madison) hosted the event.

Domnitz is the senior shareholder in the Milwaukee and Kenosha law firm of Domnitz, Mawicke & Goisman, S.C.  He graduated from Hamline University School of Law (Cum Laude) in 1977 where he was a member of the Silver Gavel Honor Society.  He also received an associate law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the University of Exeter, Exeter, England in July 1976.

Domnitz served as President of WATL in 1992 and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is a frequent lecturer on the subjects of tort law and trial advocacy.  He has chaired of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Litigation Section, served as President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and has been recognized as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Domnitz lives in Whitefish Bay with his wife Anita and has two sons, Ari and Noah.

In presenting the award, WATL President Lynn R. Laufenberg declared, “There is no question the recipient of the 2002 Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award is a passionate advocate for the rights of his clients and works tirelessly for their causes.”

Attorney Patrick Dunphy of Brookfield wrote of Domnitz, “There are many talented lawyers in the state and in the organization.  However, there are few who can claim the breadth of talent and commitment exhibited by Ric over his many years of practice.”

Attorney Randy Reinhardt of Milwaukee recognized Domnitz’s commitment to the civil justice system stating, “He has worked tirelessly for many years to protect the civil justice system and to achieve results for his clients.  His dedication to both his profession and to his clients is beyond question.”

Domnitz expressed his appreciation in receiving the award, saying, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have been chosen to receive this award.  An award named for Bob Habush is an award any true trial lawyer would be proud to receive.  Although we do not agree on every issue, Bob and I have been friends for many years. We have walked the halls of the Senate Office Building in Washington DC, we have spent countless hours in the halls of the Wisconsin Capital, and even more hours in basement rooms with Bob guiding us in the fight against tort ‘reform.’  I know what he has meant to the preservation of the civil justice system and I know the good he has done in the broader community.  Those things I know make this award very special indeed.”

Domnitz then went on to say he has always thought of himself as a team player, wanting to pay tribute to some of the people responsible for his being honored.  First his sons, Ari and Noah, his partners, Rob Jaskulski and Jeff Mawicke, his many friends in the WATL organization who have made him a better lawyer and person and finally his wife, Anita, who “has protected me from the slings and arrows that bring many men down.  She has cleared the path for me to be able to do whatever I have accomplished as a trial lawyer and as a man.”

Domnitz saved his final comments for the young lawyers present at the dinner.  He excoriated them to “hold your heads up high.  Understand that when you walk into a courtroom and take that seat nearest the jury you are involved in work that is important not only to your client and your firm, but to our society.  Want to feel proud to be an American?  Work hard and dedicate a portion of your career to the protection of the right to trial by jury.  Stand proud and tall and join hands with Thomas Jefferson and the other framers of the Constitution.  Be a trial lawyer, a WATL stalwart, and be proud of it.”

He concluded by saying, “We need you young people.  Your clients need you and the system needs you.  I remember 22-23 years ago sitting in this audience and listening to the great Ted Koskopf explain to me, then a young aspiring trial lawyer, that I was like a knight on a white horse; the only thing standing between my clients and the abyss.  I tell you young lawyers tonight, the abyss is still there, looming larger than ever.  It now threatens to swallow up not only your clients but the entire system.  Build yourselves a legacy, do something that will make you proud.  Winning cases is one thing, but protecting and preserving the right to trial by jury is a noble cause whose ramifications go much further.  Hold your heads up high, announce the presence of counsel for the plaintiff in a clear strong voice, we’re all here behind you, and you are doing God’s work.”

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