Michele Sumara focuses her law practice on union-side labor law, wage and hour litigation on behalf of employees and the firm’s appellate practice. Attorney Sumara’s clients rely on her for her strong advocacy and her ability to cut through legal jargon to explain legal principles in plain English, both to clients and to the courts. She believes strongly in clear communications with clients about realistic expectations and she practices that.
Attorney Sumara has represented numerous clients before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. She served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court judges Hon. James E. Doyle, Sr. and Hon. Barbara B. Crabb, in the Western District of Wisconsin, and Hon. Robert Warren, in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. After her clerkships, she was a staff attorney at Legal Action of Wisconsin, focusing on a disability practice, consumer law and public benefits. In 1998, Attorney Sumara joined the firm to practice labor law, representing public sector unions and employees, various local community organizations and children who had suffered from lead poisoning in their homes. Since then, she has had her editorial hand in most of the firm’s appellate litigation, and, with her partners, litigated the constitutionality of Act 10, which eviscerated collective bargaining for most public sector employees, and Act 23, the state voter photo identification law. Recently, Attorney Sumara has also focused on wage and hour litigation, challenging employers’ refusals to pay employees minimum and overtime wages.
After having grown up in rural West Tennessee, Attorney Sumara earned a college degree in French language and literature that prepared her to do little more than travel and read French poetry, which she did. After working in Memphis for several years as an assistant to a retinal surgeon and in New York as a secretary to a retired media executive and philanthropist, she earned a Master’s in Library Science and became a law librarian at Indiana University Law School. After teaching legal research and writing to both law students and incarcerated women in Indiana state prisons, she finally decided to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, and earned her law degree, cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin, becoming a member of Order of the Coif.