A Firm Landing

Attorney Diane Welsh finds her parachute.
Diane Welsh, at the Mallards’ “Duck Pond,” is now a team player at vonBriesen & Roper, S.C.

“The hardest thing is taking the first step,” said Diane Welsh, recalling her first skydiving adventure. “It took a lot of courage, and I’m glad I did it, but it won’t become a hobby.” Welsh, whose father owned an earth-moving business, is now firmly planted as an attorney at the local firm of vonBriesen & Roper, S.C. 

As the fourth of seven children growing up in rural Racine County, Welsh said she acquired negotiation skills early on, and recalls always aspiring to be either a doctor or a lawyer. 

But those ambitions would have to wait a while. First, she’d have to earn her first paycheck as a teenager, working in a clothing store in Union Grove, Wis. “It was much better than waitressing,” she said. The real benefit, of course, was earning enough money to buy her own clothes.

Later, Welsh earned a business administration degree from UW-Whitewater before attending Ball State University, where she graduated with an MBA in 1985. There, she became heavily involved in campus events and student activities that led her to pursue a career in higher education. After working for nine years at UW-Parkside in student activities and leadership, Welsh began contemplating a career change. 

“I often would see in the news that more and more women were making, defining, and interpreting laws, particularly related to sensitive crimes,” she said, and decided that obtaining a law degree would allow her to help make and apply such laws, particularly on issues involving cases of domestic abuse or sexual assault. 

Welsh was in her 30s when, like jumping out of a plane, she decided to take another leap – this time from the comforts of a job that she enjoyed to the pursuit of a career in law. Her parachute was her fierce determination to succeed. And what better place to land with sure footing, in her mind, than the nation’s capital? 

It didn’t disappoint.

She was accepted to law school at American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., and earned her law degree in 1998. 

Since returning to Wisconsin, her second career has included the handling of hundreds of cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Welsh has practiced in the U.S. Supreme Court and served as a Supreme Court fellow. She worked as an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice, and most recently was the Chief Legal Counsel for the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services. 

With a vast history in health care issues, she has been particularly tuned in to recent goings-on both statewide and on a national level in regard to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. “The decision is a mixed bag,” she opined. “There are many good provisions, but it’s a big piece of legislation.” Many of the individual provisions, she noted, are still subject to constitutional challenges.

“We really need to focus on the cost and access [to health care] issues,” she added, “and that’s hard to do when the political discourse is so heated.”

Meanwhile, Welsh has seen huge strides over the past 20 years with respect to laws relating to domestic abuse. In general, she noted, society is less tolerant of family violence, and people are more open to discuss it. “Laws are better, and law enforcement is much more sensitive than it once was.” 

Last fall, Welsh joined vonBriesen & Roper, S.C. as a shareholder in the Health Care Practice Group and the Litigation Practice Group, representing attorneys in the areas of health care law, government and regulatory law, and appellate cases. 

“I really enjoy problem-solving,” Welsh said, “and I like to do preventive lawyering – [promoting] good practices so problems don’t arise in the first place.”

When she’s not finding new clients and attending to their needs, she and husband Gary Radloff (Wisconsin Energy Institute) enjoy the city’s live music scene and have a particular interest in national acts, such as Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt. 

And she really likes baseball.

A longtime Milwaukee Brewers die-hard, Welsh’s personal goal is to attend a baseball game at every major league stadium in the country. “So far I’ve hit 14,” she said. 

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