Rick Esenberg

Founder, President, and General Counsel

Rick Esenberg is the founder and current President and General Counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a rapidly expanding law and policy organization headquartered in Milwaukee. Under Rick’s leadership, WILL has grown into one of the more active state-based think tanks and litigation centers in the country. Rick is a frequent litigator in state and federal courts and nationally recognized scholar and commentator on constitutional law, particularly the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion. He is one of the leading experts on the Wisconsin Constitution and a frequent advocate before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Rick’s work seeks to advance the rule of law and individual liberty, formed by a robust civil society that forms individual and community character, preserving the wisdom of the past and an openness to the future.

Rick’s commentary has been featured in such outlets as the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Weekly Standard, Real Clear Politics, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Washington Examiner. Formerly on the faculty of Marquette University Law School, his scholarship has appeared in such publications as the Harvard Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Wake Forest Law Review and William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal. Back when they were a thing, he operated a blog called Shark and Shepherd where he tried to suggest something about the duality of man – “the Jungian thing.”

Rick holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, and a B.A., summa cum laude, in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition to service on the Marquette Faculty, he was formerly a litigation partner at Foley & Lardner and General Counsel of an international manufacturing firm headquartered in Wisconsin. He lives in Mequon Wisconsin with his wife Karen, golden retrievers Cooper and Riley and more books than he can find places for.

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