William B. Guis

Email: WBG@ffsj.com

In a career spanning several decades with Friebert, Finerty & St. John, attorney Bill Guis has played a significant role in many important and highly complex projects that have shaped the face of Milwaukee.

Bill was instrumental in assembling the legal and financial structure of many of the downtown skywalks, working on behalf of the owners of buildings being connected by these bridges. He was involved in multiple capacities during the creation of the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park, acting as special counsel to Milwaukee County in the conveyance of County Stadium to the State of Wisconsin, counsel to CMC Heartland Partners in connection with the exchange of land with the State to assemble the land now making up the East Parking Lot of the stadium and counsel to one of the lenders providing a portion of the construction funding.

On behalf of Northwestern Mutual, Bill negotiated several needed contracts with the City of Franklin for development of the company’s campus in that city.

And Bill was extensively involved with assembly of the land now making up the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino complex in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley and in construction of the original casino in the late 1990s, the major expansion of the casino completed in 2008 and the hotel that opened in 2014. His work involved literally dozens of contracts, rezonings, conveyances, easements, land combinations and divisions, variances and other instruments, some involving governmental entities and others involving neighboring landowners and other stakeholders.

Bill also has been involved on an ongoing basis with the substantial redevelopment and neighborhood stabilization activities the Forest County Potawatomi Community has undertaken on and in the vicinity of the former campus of Concordia College on Milwaukee’s near West Side.

“What I like best is being handed a unique and complicated situation,” Guis said.  “The more players and the more moving parts, the better.”

Bill also relishes the occasional case that allows him to mix his thorough knowledge of law and of engineering. Bill earned his undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern and then served six years in the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Program, including four patrols on a Polaris missile submarine and two years teaching reactor engineering to young officers.

“I’m still a geek at heart,” he says. The ability to quickly understand the technical issues in a case can be very important to effective representation.

“Being on the same page with experts — both yours and the other side’s — is key.  Lawyers need to have a clear-eyed understanding of the technical strengths and weaknesses of their own cases, and it also helps if the other side knows you see the weaknesses in theirs.”

In a recent case involving basement backups from a sewerage system during a torrential storm, Bill discovered how the level meters in the system behaved when they became submerged, and he was able to prove it. An article explaining the matter that Bill and one of the experts hired by the firm wrote was published in the prestigious journal Water Environment & Technology in November of 2013. 

EDUCATION

  • Northwestern University, B.S., 1967
  • University of Wisconsin, J.D., 1976, Order of the Coif

PRACTICE AREAS

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