Alumni of the Year Award
The Honorable William C. Griesbach, Arts ’76, Law ’79
Green Bay, Wis.
Bill has Marquette in his blood: His parents met as students at Marquette, his father taught in the Philosophy Department, and 10 of his 11 siblings hold Marquette degrees. After graduating from the Law School, Bill forged a distinguished career working in the courts of Wisconsin, culminating in his 2002 appointment as a U.S. District judge.
Bill’s parents were both educators, and from an early age he thought he might become a teacher. “On the other hand, I enjoyed arguing with my brothers, most of whom were older than I,” he says. “My wife (Joanne Ersinghaus Griesbach, Arts ’77, Grad ’79) was studying theology, and so I figured one of us had to do something to make a living. Law was it.”
Inspired by his professor father, Dr. Marc F. Griesbach, Jour ’47, Bill majored in philosophy. Following law school, he clerked for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and spent six years in private practice before becoming an assistant district attorney for Brown County, Wis.
Bill was twice elected as a judge on the Brown County Circuit Court, serving from 1995 to 2002, when President George W. Bush appointed him as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Since November 2012, Bill has been the court’s chief judge.
Outside of the courtroom, Bill has contributed his time and leadership to myriad community organizations that serve children and families, as well as to his Catholic parish. He is a past president of the Brown County Bar Association and a member of the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding.
Bill finds great enjoyment and fulfillment in his career. He says it is an honor and a privilege to be part of the process in which citizens seek a just resolution to disputes. His Catholic faith is a key part of his personal formula for happiness. Though he admits he falls far short of living it, he regards the statement requently attributed to Ignatian spirituality, “Pray like everything depends on God; work like everything depends on you,” as a key to a happy life.
Fun fact: One of Bill’s favorite books is Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith by
Frank Sheed. A book he recommends to young lawyers is A Nation Under Lawyers: How the Crisis in the Legal Profession is Transforming American Society, by Mary Ann Glendon— “a book I referenced in a too long talk at the annual Marquette Law Review banquet several years ago.”