NEW GLARUS — Seventeen years after starting Phillipson & Uretsky, LLP., one thing in particular drives Green County Circuit Court judicial candidate Faun Marie Phillipson to continue pursuing her commitment to the county: passion, both for the community and the people within.
Phillipson’s legal career began in New York City, but the city that never sleeps lacked Green County’s personal touch, something that’s defined Phillipson’s passion for law.
“At the end of the day, it’s about people,” Phillipson said. “It’s people that are calling you on the phone or coming into your office with a problem. You’re the person that they’re relying on for advice and guidance and helping them navigate the rules, the law, the system.”
Phillipson recognized during her undergraduate years studying English and German at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that her ability to navigate and work through complex situations and problems could be a benefit to those working their way through the legal system.
“It interested me because there are people who have a tough time navigating the system. They can do a million other things successfully, but the legal system can be really confusing and scary and difficult to navigate and I guess to me, it just didn’t seem intimidating,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m gonna go to law school and I’m gonna put my talents to work in a way that I can hands-on do something, but also still a great deal of what we do is talking to people and research.’”
After graduating from undergraduate studies in Madison, Phillipson moved to New York City for law school.
In 2004, she planted roots in New York, opening a firm with her business partner. By 2007, Phillipson & Uretsky, LLP opened a New Glarus branch and Phillipson alternated between the two locations. Now, the firm has offices in New Glarus, New York and New Jersey, and Phillipson resides full-time in New Glarus.
Between her practices, Phillipson has had the opportunity to experience many different courtrooms.
“You see a wide variety of people,” she said. “You see a wide variety of methods, of practicing. You can embrace and apply the things that are great and also look at the things that don’t work… Just that exposure, I think it makes you a better trial lawyer. I think it makes you a better advocate.”
In her years running Phillipson & Uretsky, Phillipson has prepared wills and deed transfers, handled landlord-tenant disputes and done arbitrations and mediations, and more.
She said that it is through that work that she gained valuable experience to make her fit to be Green County’s next judge.
Her love for the community and working with the people of it has pushed her to become a better lawyer and advocate for her clients.
“The human aspect of it combined with the intellectual aspect of it is just something that has always fascinated me and keeps me interested and motivated and has for the last 20 years,” she said.
Phillipson’s family has lived, worked and served in the county for five generations, so it’s no surprise that her legal experience and passion to help led her back to New Glarus.
“I think this is the best place to be,” she said. “When I was 22, I wanted to live in New York City and be a part of the city that never sleeps and I was.” But her time in New York helped her to recognize aspects of Green County living that she appreciated.
Hearing crickets at night, walking down clean sidewalks and seeing the stars while breathing in fresh air were tokens of her home community that couldn’t be found in the Big Apple.
“It sounds so cliche and I think some people don’t get it,” she said. “[In Green County], you’re not just a nameless, faceless stranger to the 8 million people that are walking past. That means something to me.”
Since moving back to New Glarus full time six years ago, Phillipson has dedicated herself to further serving the community through more than just her professional work, and she’s seen the same small-town love and sense of community throughout the county.
“That’s a part of what makes Green County tick,” she said. “That and the beauty of it. The fact that it is green and it is beautiful and there are wide open spaces and people genuinely care about each other and they care about their land and they care about their neighbors. I’ve been somewhere where that’s not necessarily the case and I think that’s something to appreciate.”
She has volunteered her own time for years as a coach for the New Glarus High School’s Mock Trial Program.
She helps the students through a case from the Wisconsin State Bar, teaching them skills ranging from analysis and how to put together a persuasive argument to the law and courtroom procedure.
“Whether these kids go on to be lawyers or not, what a great skill set to have,” she said. “It comes back to that human element of teaching and working with people, but there’s always been this human interaction that motivates me. Everyone has their own strength experiences that they bring to the table. It’s cool to watch those kids come in as strangers and by the end of the season, they’re all working together.”
Now, Phillipson hopes to continue serving the county in the way that she knows how, but this time from the seat of the judge.
“It feels good to have helped someone,” she said. “It feels good to see them through a tough time in their life. It feels good to use your talent in a way that people can rely on and trust.”