April 29, 2020

April 2020: Jeff Mandell

Jeff Mandell, President, ACS Madison Lawyer Chapter

Jeff Mandell (he/him)
President, ACS Madison Lawyer Chapter

Before I went to law school, I spent three years engaged in progressive advocacy work in Washington, DC—divided between the final stretch of the Clinton Administration and the beginning of the Bush Administration. I chose the University of Chicago Law School because I wanted to meet conservative thinkers. But I also worried that I wouldn’t find progressive fellow travelers. That’s why I was so excited when the New York Times reported on the creation of a new, progressive counterbalance to the Federalist Society.

ACS was a vital outlet for me during law school. I met other students who shared my interests and my values. I got exposure to speakers who inspired me and broadened my sense of what lawyers can do. And I networked with professionals across Chicago (through the Chicago Lawyer Chapter) and around the country (at National Convention).

Five years ago—almost a decade after law school—my family relocated to Madison, Wisconsin. One of the things that drew us to Madison was that it was an opportunity to raise our kids in a community that shared our values. Madison is a vibrant place, with a strong progressive ethos and an active local bar association (as well as many, many bars—it is Wisconsin after all). So, imagine my surprise to find that Madison had no ACS Lawyer Chapter.

In October 2016, we launched our local chapter by hosting Senator Tammy Baldwin to decry the Senate’s refusal to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The event drew more than 125 people, and our chapter hasn’t looked back. Over the 40 months since, we’ve held more than 50 subsequent events. We’ve featured locally famous speakers and brought nationally prominent thinkers to Madison, co-hosted ACS’s inaugural National Lawyer Convening, and sent several Madisonians to each of the last few National Conventions. We’ve twice hosted debates among candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We’ve invigorated progressive legal conversation and helped spread new ideas in Madison and across Wisconsin. On top of that, we’ve made connections, helped build a new progressive pipeline into public service, and inspired new impact litigation.

I could not be prouder of the community of lawyers ACS has helped build in Madison. And I could not be more grateful for the myriad ways ACS has enhanced my legal education, my professional network, and my career. There is no question that my ACS experiences have helped me expand my practice beyond commercial litigation and appeals into efforts to enforce state and federal constitutional rights, safeguard fair elections, and resist partisan power grabs that threaten our democracy.

Jeff Mandell is the founding president of the ACS Madison Lawyer Chapter. He is a partner at Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, where he co-chairs the litigation and the appellate practice groups.

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