Angela in the News

Angela Dentice is Recipient of the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award

The Verdict, Winter 2010, Volume 33:1

On December 4, 2009, the Wisconsin Association for Justice bestowed the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award on M. Angela Dentice of Milwaukee.  Mark Thomsen who presented the award, said, Angela has spent her entire life focused on helping those in need.  She has been called a trailblazer by the Waukesha Freeman and Oconomowoc Enterprise and is devoted to representing seriously injured adults and children.

            The Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award is more than an award for individual accomplishment in our profession.  It is bestowed on the individual who, like the awards namesake, has through his/her work demonstrates a compassion and commitment to advocacy on behalf of injured consumers.

            William C. Gleisner, recipient of the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 2005 said, I have had the pleasure of working with Angela on a number of occasions.  Angela cares about the law but she cares even more about the well being of her clients.  She consoles them and even tutors them.  She is extremely competent; but of far great significance, she is one of the most decent lawyers I have ever met!

            Angela grew up in the Italian neighborhood of the Third Ward in Milwaukee.  She attended Holy Angels High School.  She graduated from Marquette University in 1970 and received a Masters Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1974.  Angelas first vocation was in education first teaching handicapped children and later as an administrator of programs for handicapped children in the Milwaukee Public School System.  She also taught courses relating to the education of handicapped children at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

            Desiring to continue advocating for those in need, Angela entered law school and graduated cum laude from Marquette University Law School in 1985.  She practiced personal injury and medical malpractice law at two successful Milwaukee area law firms, before establishing her own firm in 2000.  She continues to devote her law practice to advocating for the rights and needs of injured children and adults.  She keeps her firm small in enable all staff to provide personal service to the clients they represent.

            Lynn Laufenberg, the 2006 recipient of the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award said this about Angela and her devotion to her clients, As a litigator, she has a well-deserved reputation for leaving no stone unturned.  The defense lawyers all describe her as a bulldog when she gets hold of something, she wont let go and works them to death!  The old boy defense lawyers have learned the hard way that she cannot be intimidated. From the cases Ive co-counseled with her, I can tell you that she is extremely thorough and fully absorbed in the case.  I consider myself to be pretty thorough and maybe obsessive about preparation, but she put me to shame!  Her drive comes from being 100% committed to her client.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, will ever doubt that she is in this business for the right reasons.  She sets such high standards for herself that others have a hard time keeping up.  She is deceivingly smart and clever.  Ive seen her work many an adverse expert into corners in a deposition, much to the chagrin of both the expert and the opposing attorney!  And she wont quit until she gets the answer she is looking for, because she KNOWS     what the right answer should be.  This comes from her obsessive preparation and unqualified commitment to her client.  Every jury knows from the beginning of the trial that Angie is there for the client and for no other reason.  If you ask Angie about her successful cases, she will talk about the client and only if pressed will she mention the result she got for them.

            In 2001, Angela became the first woman president of the Wisconsin Association for Justice.  She is currently a member of the Wisconsin Association for Justice where she is on the Board of Directors and has co-chaired the Legislative Committee since 1994.  During her tenure as WAJ President, she spearheaded the formation of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Education Foundation.  She led the effort to raise over $250,000 to match an endowment from Robert L. Habush.  The establishment of this Foundation insures that work on behalf of the civil justice system will continue to flourish in perpetuity.

            Angela is a frequent lecturer to lawyer groups in Wisconsin and in various states and has authored numerous articles on various aspects of personal injury, traumatic brain injury and medical malpractice law.  Because of Angelas work as a teacher of handicapped children and vocational programs for the handicapped, she has unique experience advocating on behalf of adults and children who have suffered brain injury, including traumatic brain injury.

            Angela is a member of the American Association for Justice, representing WAJ for a term on the AAJ Board of Governors, the State Bar of Wisconsin, Association for Woman Lawyers and Women in Law.  She was selected by the Wisconsin Law Journal as one of the 10 Outstanding Women in the law in 2002 and has been selected as a Super Lawyer from 2005-2008.  She served as co-chair of the Leadership and Political Task Force of the statewide economic initiative Wisconsin Women=Prosperity, which was started by Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton.  Angela is a founding member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and is on the National Advisory Board of this organization.

            She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Brian Injury Association of Wisconsin (BIAW).  This past year, the group and WAJ cosponsored a seminar, Traumatic Brain Injuries:  Presenting and Proving Damages.  Angela served as co-chair on the event and sixty attorneys attended.  The seminar brought in national experts to explain the difficulty of brain injuries.  The net proceeds from the program were donated to BIAW and over $8,700 was raised.  

            Angela has a strong commitment to helping women become personal injury attorneys.  Serving as the first woman president of WAJ was a milestone.  She worked hard to bring women into the organization, recruiting them to join committees, to become board of directors and to become officers.  She has led by example, introducing WAJ to other woman trial lawyers and being one of the first to start her own practice concentrating on personal injury law.  As part of WAJ Womens Caucus, Angela is continuing this role by serving as a mentor to young female attorneys and law students.

            Past President Christine Bremer Muggli said of Angela, Angelas career has epitomized that which we hold most dear in WAJ: excellence in scholarship, devotion to her clients, leadership in the efforts to preserve the civil justice system and tireless mentorship to young attorneys, especially young women trial lawyers.  Her efforts as President of WAJ led to the successful establishment of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Education Foundation that provides much needed support to educational endeavors surrounding the civil justice system.  Angelas litigation successes are many and stand as a testament to the manner in which she runs her practice.  There is no substitute for hard work, strong advocacy and diligence in coming to a just result for those who seek her advice and counsel.

            Angela delivered the following comments when she received the Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.

            Thank you very much for this award.  It means a great deal to me to be recognized by my peers. 

            I was truly surprised when I received the call from Mark informing me that I was this years recipient.

            I want to say a few words about Bob Habush and the former recipients of this award.  Bob Habush, for whom this award is named, has contributed much to the practice of personal injury law.

            We are all aware of Bobs tremendous successes in the courtroom and his dedication to this organization.  When I was a young lawyer, just starting out, I read transcripts of his closing arguments.  I read them not because I thought I could ever deliver a closing argument like he can.  I read them because his words inspired me.

            One contribution of Bob Habush, which many of you may not be sensitive to, is the degree in which the Habush firm has hired women trial lawyers women who actually try cases.  This recently struck me at our last Womens Caucus meeting in the Dells.  I was sitting in the back of the room while various women were making presentations.  As I was watching the group of women in front of me, I was suddenly struck by the number of women who were from the Habush firms around our state.  These women were extremely involved in the presentations.  They were engaged in the process.  They shared their experiences in the litigation process and the courtroom.  Several of these women were also raising multiple children.

            To me, Bob Habush doesnt just talk about notions of justice and equality.  He lives them.

            The lawyers who have received this award before me are also lawyers who walk their talk.  They are among the most talented and dedicated of trial lawyers in our state:  Mike End, John Peterson, Ric Domnitz, Jim Weis, Keith Clifford, Bill Gleisner, Lynn Laufenberg, Don Prachthauser and Dan Rottier.  They each have their unique talents.  Their dedication to our organization and to the preservation of the civil justice system is unwavering.

            I am most proud and humble to now be the tenth member of this group.

            No one who has experienced any degree of success has achieved it alone without the help of others.  I am fortunate enough to have started my career with two lawyers who gave a middle-aged, single parent, former schoolteacher a chance to be a trial lawyer.  I remain grateful to them.

            I am blessed with dedicated staff that makes it enjoyable to come to work every day.

            I am blessed with a family who has been willing to accept and support the schedule of a trial lawyer.

            I am blessed with unwavering counsel that my husband, Benn, provides me.

            I am also blessed that I have the opportunity to represent common, ordinary people, like myself.  They provide an example of how to negotiate lifes tremendous challenges with grace and dignity.

            I believe that our work for our injured clients uplifts them.  Our work gives them access to the civil justice system.  When successful, our works allows them to live as productive a life as possible.

            As Martin Luther King Jr. said, All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

            The lawyers in this organization are an inspiration to me to continue to strive to meet this goal.

            For that inspiration and for this award, again I thank you.

            Angela is married to Benn DiPasquale, a retired partner of Foley & Lardner.  Benn is on the Board of Directors of the Counsel for the Spanish Speaking.  Ms. Dentice has a son and daughter-in-law who reside in Madison, Wisconsin, four step daughters and four grandchildren, all of whom reside in different parts of the country.

            The Robert L. Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award was established in 2000 to recognize a trial lawyer who has made contributions to the trial bar by handling a case involving a significant change in the law or precedent-setting suit, or by donating time on a committee or project that benefited injured consumers.  The award is named in honor of Robert L. Habush for his years of dedication and commitment to the fight for the rights of accident victims nationwide and for the tremendous time and energy he has devoted to WAJ.  Mr. Habush has served WAJ in many capacities, twice being president (1968-69) and 1971-72) and for ten years chairing the Legislative Committee.  He also served as president of the national American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) from 1986-87.





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