Steve Hurley defends business organizations and individuals who are the subject of investigation or who have been accused of an offense. He has successfully represented clients with matters investigated by the SEC, FTC, OCC, FDIC, IRS, HHS, EPA, OSHA, FBI, DOT, DOD, USFWS, DEA as well as by state law enforcement agencies. He has been repeatedly recognized as being among the best defense attorneys and trial lawyers in Wisconsin. His firm, of which he is a founding member, is rated Tier 1 for its criminal defense practice by U.S. News and World Reports. Among many recognitions, Steve was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and each year, since 2006, his peers have selected him one of the Top Ten lawyers in Wisconsin for Superlawyers® magazine. His defense work has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® since 1995. He has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School since 1987, and regularly teaches judges, lawyers and law students on the subjects of criminal law, evidence and trial advocacy.
As Steve explains to the lawyers he trains and counsels: “The greatest accomplishment is to avoid your client being charged; and, if charged, to make the matter go away without a trial. But the only way to avoid a charge or a trial is to make the government fear it will lose. That can’t be accomplished if it’s been a while since you tried a case.”
In addition to his teaching, Steve has served on many professional and philanthropic boards. In 2015 he was awarded the Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Charles I. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award for his long-standing record of service to both the legal profession and to the public.
When Honesty is Not Best Politics
American Bar Association Journal, 2007
Rainy Day Man
Wisconsin Super Lawyers® Magazine, 2008
- Criminal Defense in State and Federal Court
- Complex Civil Litigation in State and Federal Court
- Employment Law – Counsel Management in Employment and Labor Matters
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Supreme Court of the United States of America
University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Illinois, J.D.
Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, B.A.
Honors & Awards
The Wisconsin Law Foundation’s Charles I. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award. Presented to a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin who has a long-standing record of service to both the legal profession and to the public
The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ William Coffee Award. Presented for exceptional contributions to professionalism in the field of criminal justice
The University of Wisconsin Law School’s Warren L. Stolper Award to the Most Outstanding Adjunct Member of the Instructional Staff
Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
The Best Lawyers In America®, 1995-present: White Collar and Nonwhite Collar Defense
Super Lawyer®, 2005 – present; among the Top 10 for over ten years
Super Lawyer®, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 – Top 50 Statewide, Top 25 Madison, Criminal Defense: White Collar
Benchmark Litigation, 2014-2019
Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Legal Defense Service, 1994
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences certificate for contributions to the television drama series Picket Fences, 1992-1993
Professional Associations & Memberships
Member of the Wisconsin Law Foundation
Chair, Board of Federal Defender Services Wisconsin Inc., 2009-2013
Former Member of the Board Directors, Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
President, Board of Trustees, Madison Opera, 2010-2012
Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Wisconsin Defender
Member, Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
Member, Dane County Bar Association
Member, State Bar of Wisconsin
Chairman, Wisconsin Education Fund (U.S. Representative Scott Klug), 1992-1994
Former Chairman, Western District Bar Association, Standing Committee on Criminal Justice
Master Bencher, American Inns of Court, James E. Doyle Chapter, 1992-1999
Steve is active on non-profit boards and has served as President of two organizations. He has also been deeply committed for over 25 years to the University of Wisconsin Law School, having served as an adjunct professor and on various committees.
People ex rel. Rice v. Cunningham, 336 N.E.2d 1 (Ill. 1975).
Green v. Associated Milk Producers, 692 F.2d 1153 (8th Cir. 1982).
County of Door v. Hayes-Brook, 449 N.W.2d 601 (Wis. 1989).
Jackson v. Benson, 578 N.W.2d 602 (Wis. 1998).
Uhl v. Zalk Josephs Fabricators, Inc., 121 F.3d 1133 (7th Cir. 1997).
State v. Wulff, 557 N.W.2d 813 (Wis. 1997).
State v. Hicks, 549 N.W.2d 435 (Wis. 1996).
State v. Hicks, 536 N.W.2d 487 (Wis. 1995).
DeWitt, Porter, Huggett, Schumacher & Morgan, S.C. v. Kovalic, 991 F.2d 1243 (7th Cir. 1993).
State of Wisconsin ex rel. Individual Subpoenaed to Appear at Waukesha County v. Davis, 2005 WI 70, 281 Wis. 2d 431, 697 N.W.2d 803.
United States v. Thompson, 484 F.3d 877 (7th Cir. 2007).
Stand and Deliver: Tips on Trying Your First Case, American Bar Association Journal Podcast (May 7, 2012)
Best in Show: Admissibility of Police Dog Evidence., Hurley, Burish & Stanton (2011)
Can Defense Counsel Ethically Breach A Plea Agreement?, Wisconsin Defender (Reprinted in Plea Bargaining and Penology: An Appraisal, M.N. Bhavani, ed., 2008, Amicus Books of Icfai University Press) (June 2005)
“Sharp Practice:” The Use of Section 908.01(4)(b) Admission by Party-Opponent to Hoist A Prosecutor By His Own Words, or the Lessons of State v. Cardenas-Hernandez, Wisconsin Defender (December 1999)
The Attorney-Client Privilege: The Self Defense Exception To The Attorney-Client Privilege, Wisconsin Defender (January 1998)
Straw, Sticks or Bricks: How Strong is the Attorney-Client Privilege? A Cautionary Tale for Defense Counsel, Wisconsin Defender (June 1998)
Defense Juvenile Case in Wisconsin (1993)
Wisconsin Criminal Defense Manual (1992)
Doshisha University, Kyoto Japan, February 10 – 24, 2017 – Taught a course in Evidence as a visiting professor of law
ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime, March 4, 2015
University of Wisconsin Law School: Evidence and Trial Advocacy, 1989 – present
Introduction to the American Legal System, East China University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai, China, 2011-2014; Thamassat University, Bangkok, Thailand, 2015.
K-9 Dogs and Drug Searches, Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Appleton, Wisconsin, September 30, 2011
K-9 Dogs and Drug Searches, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Seminar, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 19, 2009
Crossing Dogs: Drug Dogs, Cadaver Dogs, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Seminar, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 1, 2008
Doggone Dogma: Dogs, Alerts & Admissibility, Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, April 8, 2008
Wisconsin Evidence Workshop, Professional Educations Systems, Inc., 1992 – 2004
American Jurisdiction over Foreign Business, National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan, 1996