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Michael J. Cohen

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Business Litigation Attorney in Milwaukee, WI

Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C.
111 East Kilbourn Avenue, 19th Floor
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: 414-208-9412
Fax: 414-273-5840
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2022
Licensed in Wisconsin Since: 1986
Practice Areas: Business Litigation, Insurance Coverage, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation: Defense
Attorney Profile

Michael J. Cohen is an attorney and shareholder at Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C. For more than 35 years, he has served clients in state and federal courts. His Milwaukee metro area clients are primarily corporations and real estate investors. The types of cases he handles on their behalf include real estate planning, as well as business and corporate litigation.

In 1983, Mr. Cohen graduated with a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin. He then completed his law degree at Marquette University Law School, in 1986. After acquiring decades of legal experience, he now shares his knowledge with the next generation of attorneys. Some of the areas he has spoken on include business law, soliciting customers, PCI claims, evidence preservation and employment law.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Cohen has earned a long list of awards and recognitions within his field over the years. For example, in 2011, he was named among the Leaders in Law. In 2017, he ranked among America's Top 100 Attorneys as a Lifetime Achievement Member. From 2011 to 2022, he was ranked among the Top 25 Lawyers in Milwaukee.

Mr. Cohen also remains active within his community by serving on the board of several organizations. These have included Business Law, Center for Legal Technology, a division of MBTI Business Training Institute; National Alliance on Mentally Illness; and International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.

Practice Areas
  • 40%Business Litigation
  • 40%Insurance Coverage
  • 10%Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • 10%Civil Litigation: Defense
Focus Areas

Trade Secret, Non-Compete Agreements, Insurance, Bad Faith Insurance, Insurance Defense, Arbitration, Mediation

Selections

17 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2022

White Papers

  • A Perilous Decision: Steadfast Explains an Insurer's Duty to Defend in the Multi-Insurer Context (and the Damages Available Against a Breaching Insurer) (2019) - This article discusses the recent case of Steadfast Ins. Co. v. Greenwich Ins. Co. , which further clarified Wisconsin’s legal landscape regarding an insurer’s duty to defend in the context of multiple insurers defending the same mutual insured
  • Preparing to Compete: The Boundaries of Permissible Conduct (2018) - Under our free enterprise system, employees frequently leave their employment to work for a competitor or start a new competing venture. Questions often arise about whether an employee may be deemed to have breached their duty of loyalty owed to his or her employer by taking certain preparatory steps, while still employed, to compete with his or her employer after termination. A related issue has to do with whether an employee or a former employee may be deemed to have breached a non-compete agreement by taking such preparatory measures. I have addressed the issue of the validity of non-compete agreements more generally in my video entitled, Enforceability of Non-Compete Agreements in Wisconsin. This article will focus more on how the law views certain steps taken by an employee while still employed to prepare to compete after employment.
  • 5 Key Factors in Determining Enforceability of Non-Compete Agreements in Wisconsin (2016) - One area of business litigation that we often address is the issue of enforceability of non-compete agreements in Wisconsin. A non-compete agreement is a written agreement between an employer and employee that prohibits the employee, after termination of employment, from specific activities within a specific time period and a specific geographic area. Wisconsin has a statute, Section 103.465, that addresses non-compete agreements and provides that if the non-compete agreement is reasonably necessary to protect the employer and is reasonable in geographic scope and reasonable in time limitation, it will be enforceable. This is an area where there is quite a bit of case law and if the non-compete is carefully drafted in accordance with the most recent case law in the area, courts will enforce them.

About Michael J. Cohen

First Admitted: 1986, Wisconsin

Professional Webpage: https://www.mtfn.com/attorneys/michael-j-cohen/

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Thomas E. Fairchild Inn of Court, Master
  • American Bar Association; State Bar of Wisconsin; Milwaukee Bar Association; Defense Research Institute; Wisconsin Defense Counsel; Board of Governors - State Bar of Wisconsin (2013 - Present) (Business Plan Committee, Ethics Committee, and Judicial Election Steering Committee); Former Coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin High School Mock Bar Tournament; Former President, Milwaukee Bar Association; Former Co-Chair, Milwaukee Bar Association, Bench-Bar Committee-Civil; Former Chair, Milwaukee Bar Association, Civil Litigation Committee; Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers Trial By Jury Committee; Committee Member, Legal Aid Society Development Committee

Pro bono/Community Service

  • Milwaukee Bar Foundation, Board Member
  • High School Mock Trial Tournament, Former Co-Chair
  • Wisconsin Fellows
  • Board Member, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders; Former Board Member, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill;

Other Outstanding Achievements

  • America's Top 100 Attorneys - Lifetime Achievement Member (2017)  

Educational Background

  • B.A. University of Wisconsin, 1983

Videos

  • Attorney Michael Cohen, a shareholder with the Milwaukee, Wisconsin law firm of Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C. shares insights on the boundaries of permissible conduct of employees as they prepare to leave their current employer to work for a competitor or start a new competing venture. In this video, Mike focuses on how Wisconsin law views certain preparatory steps taken by an employee, while still employed, to prepare to compete after employment and whether they are deemed to have breached their duty of loyalty the employer., Preparing to Compete: The Boundaries of Permissible Conduct, 2017
  • Attorney Mike Cohen of Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols, a Milwaukee based law firm discusses the "Enforceability of Non-Compete Agreements in Wisconsin." Mike reviews Wisconsin's current non-compete statute and the 5 key factors in determining enforceability of non-compete agreements., Enforceability of Non-Compete Agreements in Wisconsin, 2015

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Chair & Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation - Selected Issues in Non-Compete Litigation, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, 2018
  • Speech on ancillary claims against third parties in the context of business disputes., Chair and Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation - Expanding the Web of Litigation: Third-Party Claims, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Etc., 2014
  • Speech on the court's application of the business judgment rule in Wisconsin as applied to questioning of business decisions in shareholder and other disputes, Chair and Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation - The Business Judgment Rule in Wisconsin, State Bar of Wisconsin Pinnacle, Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Etc., 2017
  • Speech on vicarious liability theories in business litigation, Chair and Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation -Litigation Bingo - Piercing the Corporate Veil, the Single Business Enterprise Theory and Insurance Coverage Scenarios, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Etc., 2019
  • Speech on trends in settlements and use of alternative dispute resolution in business disputes., Chair and Speaker, The Disappearance of Trials and the Emergence of ADR in Business Litigation, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, 2018
  • Speech on enhanced damages and other remedies in Business Litigation, Chair and Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation - Enhanced Damages and Remedies in Business Litigation, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Etc., 2016
  • Marquette University Law School, Speaker, Social Media and Other Electronic Evidence, 2016
  • Speaker, Arbitration: Soup to Nuts, Milwaukee Bar Association, Speaker, Arbitration: Soup to Nuts, Milwaukee Bar Association, 2016
  • Speech on fiduciary duties and preparing to compete., Chair and Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation - Agents Who Prepare to Compete: Soliciting Customers and Co-Workers, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Etc., 2013
  • Speech on fiduciary duties and preparing to compete., Chair and Speaker, Trending Topics in Business Litigation - Preparing to Compete and the Breach of the Duty of Loyalty, State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE, Attorneys, In-house Counsel, Etc., 2012
  • Attorneys, Insurance Representatives, Speaker, Litigation Holds - What Should be Done, Wisconsin Defense Counsel 2010 Summer Confe; Washington County Bar Association, 2010
  • Speech on allocation of damages in long-tail insurance claims., Speaker, Advanced Allocation Issues, Complex Insurance Claims Litigation Association, 2010
  • Speech on allocation issues under Wisconsin law, Speaker, Views from Across the River—Trigger, Allocation and the Plastics Engineering Co. v. Liberty Mutual Co. Case in Wisconsin, Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association, Attorneys, Insurance Representatives, Etc., 2008
  • Speaker, Litigation Holds and the Duty to Preserve Evidence, Marquette University Law School, 2009
  • Author, Recent Revisions to the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act Raise the Stakes for Employers, The Business Journal (Milwaukee), Vol. 27, No. 3 At 43 (Oct. 16, 2009) (co-authored With Thomas M. Hruz), 2009
  • Speaker, Practical Evidence Issues Before and at Trial—Scope of Expert Testimony at Trial—Attempts to Go Beyond Expert Report and Disclosures; Use of Information Obtained Over the Internet; Litigation Holds—What Should be Done; Contacting Employees and Former Empl, Milwaukee Bar Association, 2008
  • Speaker, 31st Annual Corporate Practice Institute—Trade Secrets: A Thief or Not a Thief?, State Bar Of Wisconsin - CLE Seminars, 2007
  • Speaker, Real Evidence for the Trial Practitioner—Scope of Expert Testimony at Trial—Attempts to Go Beyond Expert Report and Disclosures; Use of Information Obtained Over the Internet; Litigation Holds—What Should be done; Contacting Employees and Former Employees, Inc., Lorman Business Center, 2007
  • Speaker, Current Issues Surrounding CGL Coverage—Insurance Coverage for Business Torts, Inc., Lorman Business Center, 2007
  • Speaker, Insurance Bad Faith Claims, Lorman Business Center, Inc., 2007
  • Speaker, 2006 Civil Law Seminar - Case Management Orders, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 2006
  • Speaker, Insurance Coverage for Environmental Contamination, Civil Trial Counsel Of Wisconsin, 2006
  • State Bar of Wisconsin, Speaker, Annual Convention Litigation Section—Insurance Coverage for Business Torts, 2006
  • Speaker, Insurance Bad Faith Claims in Wisconsin, Lorman Business Center, Inc., 2005
  • Civil Trial Counsel of Wisconsin, Speaker, Insurance Coverage for Environmental Contamination: Welcome Back to Environmental Law After Johnson Controls, Inc., v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, et al., 2005
  • (co-authored With William T. Stuart), Author, Can Employers Force Employees to Sign Noncompete Agreements as a Condition of their Employment?, Vol. 72, No. 5, 1999

Honors/Awards

  • 2010-2021, The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers, 2021
  • Every year, the Milwaukee Bar Association recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of members within the legal community at the MBA Annual Meeting. Out of the thousands of lawyers in our community, Attorney Michael J. Cohen was selected as this year’s 2022 Distinguished Service Award recipient. The MBA presents the award to a member of the bar whose extraordinary service over the years has helped to support and better the legal profession. , Distinguished Service Award, Milwaukee Bar Association, 2022
  • 2006-2021, Wisconsin Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers, 2021
  • 2008-2021, Top 50 Wisconsin Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers, 2021
  • 2011-2020, Top 25 Lawyers in Milwaukee, 2020
  • Insurance Law, 2014, 2017 & 2019; Litigation-Insurance - 2020, Milwaukee Lawyer of the Year, 2019
  • Zilber Scholar
  • America's Top 100 Attorneys - Lifetime Achievement Member, America's Top 100 Attorneys - Lifetime Achievement Member, 2017
  • Recognized as a Leader in the Law, Leaders in the Law, 2011
  • Thomas More Scholar

Industry Groups

  • Business
  • Insurance
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Office Location for Michael J. Cohen

111 East Kilbourn Avenue
19th Floor
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Phone: 414-208-9412

Fax: 414-273-5840

Last Updated: 6/24/2022

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