Joan F. Kessler

Retired Partner


Joan Kessler is a retired litigation partner in Foley & Lardner LLP's Milwaukee office. She is recognized in Best Lawyers in America as among the best family law attorneys in the United States.

Ms. Kessler has been a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for nearly two decades, and serves as a member of the American Academy’s national board of directors. She has served as chair of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Arbitration Rules Committee, co-chair of the Arbitration Committee, and has trained arbitrators and lectured on family law topics in numerous states throughout the United States. Ms. Kessler also is co-author of Matrimonial Arbitration Handbook, published by Professional Educational Systems. She has served as an adjunct professor of professional responsibility at the University of Wisconsin Law School and Marquette University Law School.

Ms. Kessler is a member of the American Law Institute, and a member of the consultative group for the Law of Family Dissolution project. She has served on the Wisconsin Judicial Council, and is the former United States attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.  Ms. Kessler has served as the chair of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Wisconsin, has been a member the State Bar Board of Governors for many years, and a director of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Ms. Kessler received her B.A. degree in French and German from the University of Kansas and her J.D., cum laude, in 1968 from Marquette University, where she was a contributor to the Law Review. She is admitted to practice in Wisconsin, and before the United States Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.

Ms. Kessler has published numerous articles and presented numerous seminars in the area of family law.

Seminars and Articles

  • "'Specific Portion' Trusts; the Marital Deduction" (Marquette Law Review)
  • "Transmutation: Finding Extra Property to Divide in Divorce" (Wisconsin Lawyer)
  • "Can You Choose The Law to Govern Your Marital Agreement?" (Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers)
  • Advanced Ethics Problems
  • Ethical Problems in Family Law
  • Ethical Issues in Representing Corporation and Shareholder in Family Litigation
  • What's Divided and What's Not at Divorce
  • Evidence Problems and Family Law
  • Attorney Client Privilege Issues in Family Law and Estate Planning
  • Arbitration in Family Law