Michelle A. Behnke is an Ex-Officio Member of the ABF Board and a Wisconsin Life Fellow. She is a principle at Michelle Behnke & Associates in Madison, WI.
What does being a Fellow mean to you?
Being a fellow gives me a chance to learn about and support legal research. While we often focus on the client in front of us or the matter at hand, I went to law school because I wanted to use the law to help people. I knew that law was a powerful tool to analyze issues and problems and find solutions. Supporting the work of ABF keeps me connected to the reason that I went to law school.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Merced, California. My father was in the Air Force and he was stationed there. His next post was Madison, Wisconsin. I was three when we moved to Wisconsin and we never left. I met my husband in law school at the University of Wisconsin Law School and we choose to remain in Madison and raise our family here.
What type of law do you practice and how did you become interested in it?
I am a business and transactional lawyer. I was an Economics major as an Undergraduate. Business and helping people follow their dreams was something that drew me to business practice. I like working with my clients to help them start a business or grow their business. Since my work is transactional, for the most part, my clients want to be working with me because it is what helps them further their own goals. I like being a part of my clients’ professional team and working with others to get things done.
If you had decided to not go into law, what would you have done?
I wanted to be a dancer when I was growing up. I studied classical ballet, tap, jazz, baton and hula. I really wanted to go to Broadway and be a dancer. Unfortunately, at 5 feet tall I did not really fit the bill for a dancer on Broadway.
What do you do when you’re not practicing law?
I am very committed to the profession and so I have been involved in Bar activities since I was in law school where I served on the Student Bar Association board. Since then I’ve served as State Bar President and in a number of other roles. I like working with people to get things done so I also volunteer with the local YWCA to help train young women leaders and work to eradicate racial bias.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful husband who understands my passion for Bar work. We’ve been married for 29 years. We have two terrific adult children who have found wonderful spouses and they also understand my passion for Bar work. They’ve attended many a Bar function and they support me in all that I do.