Lori Kornblum (1982-83)

Adjunct Professor, Marquette University Law School; Adjunct Professor, Northeastern University Law School; Full Time Instructor, Paralegal Department, Milwaukee Area Technical College; Private Practice-Law Offices of Lori S. Kornblum; Judge-Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, 2022

By far the most interesting case I worked on was State v. Gilbert, 115 Wis. 2d 371, 340 N.W.2d 511 (1983), which dealt with the issue of whether a child, who was the only witness to her mother’s murder, had to testify.  The court established standards for arranging courtrooms to accommodate children.  This work on this case set me on a career of dealing with children who are victims of child abuse and neglect. 

I was not involved in elections!  (1982-83) However, one of the fun things Shirley authorized was playing Dreidel in the back of chambers.  I introduced the other justices and clerks to the game.  We played for M&M’s and had a great time.  Her humanity was always present.

I worked 8 AM to noon, took a break to go swimming, then 2-5, when everyone went home for dinner (at her insistence) and came back after dinner until at least midnight.  Per prior agreement, I had Friday nights off.  I would leave on Thursday nights at 8:45 PM to pick up a friend and watch Hill Street Blues.  After the show, I would bring my friend home at 10:15 PM and go back to work.   When I was applying for jobs, most of them had a requirement of experience of a few years.  Our legal assistant, Diana Balio/Cook, told me to apply because I had put in enough hours for 2-3 years.

Dan was starting at Yale when I was Shirley’s clerk. I also went to Yale, so we had a lot of discussion. I helped Shirley make (sew) a comforter cover for Dan.

Favorite sayings: You have a brain, be sure to use it. She took confidentiality very seriously and often said, understand that anything you say in public could appear on the front page of the New York Times tomorrow.  She would not accept even an ice cream cone from me, because then she would have to file a bunch of paperwork. 

Best advice: Regarding marriage, I met my husband of now almost 39 years while working for her.  She said, “you know, there may be many people who are perfect for you.  You are just lucky if you meet one of them.”  So don’t worry about the ones you don’t meet.

She was the best person to work for, a mentor for life in every way.  The only other position I have had that even comes close was my job as a Court of Appeals Judge for District II.  Shirley’s intellectual rigor was unparalleled. She also said that if you do the law right, people will follow it and won’t hold it against you. I wish that were true today. I stayed in touch with Shirley until shortly before her passing, and was able to be at her retirement ceremony. I went to her swearing in as Chief Justice when I was 9.5 months pregnant with my youngest child. I could not even fit into proper clothing.  She looked at me, two weeks late, and said, “Lori, go home and have that baby.” And I did.

Justice Abrahamson as a young justice in the 1980s
Justice Abrahamson as a young justice in the 1980s