For over 45 years, Brian has been representing clients in litigation and appeals. His experience includes:

  • Litigation and appeals on a broad range of substantive claims, including antitrust, dealership, lender liability, intracorporate disputes, contract disputes, legal malpractice, building construction, business torts, and trademark infringement.
  • Frequently serving as a mediator, at the parties’ request, in a wide variety of commercial disputes.
  • Serving as an arbitrator, resolving parties’ disputes.
  • Drawing on his litigation experience with the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (WFDL) to regularly advise manufacturers and distributors in matters arising under that statute and other laws governing distribution, including drafting of distributorship agreements.
  • Trying major cases to jury verdict, trial court judgment, or appellate opinion.

Brian is admitted to practice in Wisconsin. Click here for Brian’s lawyer rating.  Brian was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015 in the fields of Arbitration, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Franchise Law, Litigation – Antitrust, and Mediation.


Professional Recognition and Awards

  • Brian was named a Leader in the Law by Wisconsin Law Journal in 2012. From 95 nominees, 22 attorneys and judges were selected for demonstrating outstanding leadership, vision and legal expertise in Wisconsin's law community.
  • Since 1993, Brian has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America, a book based on a national survey of lawyers.
  • Brian was selected for inclusion as a recommended litigator in the Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business directory.
  • He was also selected by peers as a Wisconsin Super Lawyer (since 2005) and a Top 50 Wisconsin Super Lawyer (2006-2009, 2011).


Teaching Experience

  • Brian has lectured on litigation topics for the State Bar of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and business groups.

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Member, Panel of Neutrals, American Arbitration Association
  • Former Member, Board of Directors and Co-Chair, Fundraising Committee, Wisconsin Equal Justice Fund
  • Volunteer, Dane County Mediation Program
  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • Dane County Bar Association
  • Wisconsin Bar Foundation

Brian is married to Carolyn Lazar Butler, who retired in 2009 as Assistant Dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School, before which she was Publications Director of the State Bar of Wisconsin. They each have two children by previous marriages. Son Brian is a real estate appraiser in Jackson, Wyoming, where he lives with his wife Lynne, a teacher, and their two children. Son Peter is a professor of landscape architecture at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where he lives with his wife Denise, a professor of educational technology, and their two children. Daughter Jessica lives in Seattle with her husband Josef and their three children. She directs brand marketing for Rhapsody America, an on-line music subscription service, and he is an exercise equipment retailer. Son Andrew lives in Chicago, where he works for a firm that imports exercise equipment from China and is instrumental in producing infomercials.  Maybe someday he’ll get married.

Brian enjoys tennis, sailing, and outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. His tastes in music, art, food and literature are indiscriminate.

Community Involvement

  • Dane County Board of Supervisors and the Regional Planning Commission, Former Member
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, Big Brother (past)
  • Friends of Pheasant Branch, Member, Board of Directors and Former President
  • Overture Center Foundation, Member, Board of Directors (past)

Brian Butler’s broad experience equips him to provide mediation and arbitration in a wide variety of practice areas. He has been recognized by his peers for his skill, his professionalism, and his patience.

  • ADR practitioner for more than 20 years
  • Member, Panel of Neutrals, American Arbitration Association
  • Member, Mediation Panel, International Mediation Institute
  • Member, Panel of Distinguished Neutrals, CPR Institute (International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution)
  • Best Lawyers in America (Arbitration; Mediation; Commercial Litigation; Franchise Law; Litigation - Antitrust)
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyer
  • Recommended litigator by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business
  • Appointed Rule 53 Master by U.S. District Court to regulate depositions


Brian is a member of the American Arbitration Association's National Roster of Neutrals, serving on its commercial arbitration panel, and a member of the Panel of Distinguished Neutrals of the CPR Institute (International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution).

Arbitration Experience

Brian has served as an arbitrator in a variety of commercial disputes, including the following:

  • a dispute between an automobile manufacturer and one of its dealers (chosen by dealer for a three-member panel, settled before hearing);
  • a termination dispute between a brewer of beer and one of its wholesale distributors (chosen by distributor for a three-member panel, award for distributor);
  • a dispute between former business partners arising from a partnership sale agreement (rendered written award); and
  • a dispute between a health care insurer and the employer for which it provided a health care plan (chosen by insurer for a three-member panel, settled before hearing);
  • a dispute between a bank service company and a group of its customer banks regarding the adequacy of the work done by the bank service company (rendered written award);
  • a fee dispute between a law firm and its former client (rendered written award);
  • a dispute between an electrical equipment manufacturer and a designer of such equipment (settled with his assistance at commencement of hearing);
  • a dispute between business partners about the propriety of an asset withdrawal (settled before hearing);
  • a dispute between business partners, each alleging financial misconduct (rendered written decision on request for preliminary relief);
  • a multi-million dollar dispute regarding alleged breaches of a supply agreement (chosen by both parties to a three-member panel; settled before hearing);
  • a dispute among physicians regarding a breakup of their practice (settled before hearing);
  • a wage and hour law dispute involving a large group of restaurants (pending);
  • a large crop insurance dispute between grower and insurer (settled before hearing);
  • a contract dispute between a trucker and an express service (rendered award);
  • a termination dispute between a vehicle manufacturer and its dealer (settled before hearing);
  • a dispute between a crop insurer and two of its insureds (rendered written award);
  • a credit card dispute between a card issuer and its card holder (pending);
  • a dispute between an insurer and a claimant (pending); and
  • a million dollar dispute between the purchaser and seller of a business (pending).

Brian also has served as an advocate in arbitrations, including between: a country club and the owner of the country club real estate; an electronic equipment manufacturer and its dealer; a photocopy machine manufacturer and its dealer; the owners of a television station; a brewer and one of its distributors; members of an LLC engaged in real estate development; a modular home manufacturer and its dealer; and a law firm and its former shareholder.

Code of Ethical Conduct

Code of Ethics for Commercial Arbitrators


Brian has served as a mediator in more than 100 cases. He is a member of the American Arbitration Association's National Roster of Neutrals, the Mediation Panel of the International Mediation Institute, and the CPR Institute’s Panel of Distinguished Neutrals (International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution).

Mediation Practice Areas

Brian has served as a mediator in cases involving a broad range of disputes, including dealership, construction, personal injury, misrepresentation, employment, property damage, false advertising, and landlord-tenant. His focus is on contract, business tort and trade regulation disputes in a wide variety of industries, and inter-governmental conflicts.

Mediation Style

Patient, conciliatory and constructive. At an appropriate point in the mediation, generally provides the parties with his evaluation of their claims and defenses, with the benefit of his long experience trying lawsuits.

Mediation Experience

Brian has extensive mediation experience. Recent mediations include:

  • a contract dispute between co-private lenders;
  • a contract and business tort dispute between the members of an LLC engaged in administration of employee benefit plans;
  • a construction dispute among six parties;
  • a case alleging misrepresentation in the sale of commercial real estate;
  • a lawsuit between a jewelry manufacturer and a retailer alleging antitrust violations, breach of contract, and business torts;
  • a contract/tort case between a manufacturer of medical equipment and a component supplier regarding the performance of the component;
  • a dispute between a product development company and a food processor alleging misappropriation of proprietary information;
  • a lawsuit between an automobile dealership and its former employee;
  • a dispute between two competitor sellers in the natural products industry concerning allegedly false advertising;
  • a contract and intellectual property dispute between a power systems design firm and a manufacturer of such systems;
  • a contract dispute between a bulk paper producer and a paper converter;
  • a dispute between a manufacturing company and several adjacent property owners regarding an alleged nuisance;
  • a dispute between an institutional trustee and trust beneficiary;
  • a multi-faceted dispute between a lighting manufacturer and its dealer; and
  • a dispute between a truck manufacturer and its dealer.

Code of Ethical Conduct

AAA/ABA/ACR Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Continental Casualty Company. $10 million for each claim and $10 million aggregate.


Hourly rate is charged for preparation time; One-half hourly rate, and reasonable amounts for necessary airfare, hotel, and meals are charged for travel outside of Madison or Milwaukee metropolitan areas.

Feedback about Services

As reported by the International Mediation Institute:

“Parties and counsel who have used Brian Butler would overwhelmingly use his services again and would, without hesitation, recommend him to others.

Typical of the comments reflecting Mr. Butler’s acceptability are: (i) Mr. Butler is a very good mediator on complex commercial issues. He understands the issues and is very patient in working with difficult clients or attorneys; (ii) He was very professional in his approach; (iii) He helped the parties settle an emotionally charged dispute; (iv) Brian did an excellent job of analyzing the case and focusing the parties; (v) He is attentive, prepared and unbiased; and (vi) He has a good understanding of the litigation process and many substantive areas of law, in addition to being a good mediator. I would suggest Mr. Butler to anyone looking for a mediator.

Mr. Butler’s mediation skills and abilities are rated as highly effective. Typical of feedback received in this regard are: (i) He understood the issues and kept working toward settlement even when things did not look promising; (ii) He has common sense, persistence and good judgment; (iii) He is concise in his approach and get things done. He has an aggressive style that gets parties to move; (iv) He was good at evaluating the case and has a nice technique for prompting offers; and (v) He was knowledgeable in a particular area of law, which made a very big difference. He understood the issues and the law.

Mr. Butler is also highly regarded for his ability to effect a positive outcome. For example, one provider of feedback noted that they believe Mr. Butler was able to convince both sides to move somewhat, and sensed that his participation and evaluation made a big difference in the other party’s view of the case.

Costs were widely reported as reasonable in the context of the value of the disputes mediated by Mr. Butler, and in general a very high degree of satisfaction was reported.

No reportable negative comments have been received since Mr. Butler’s designation as an IMI Certified Mediator.”