33 East Main Street, Suite 610
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 257-2281

Firm History

Today’s Stroud attorneys are part of a proud tradition of excellence in the legal profession. From the firm’s beginnings in 1892, the Stroud law firm has provided top-quality legal services to our clients, both large and small. We have been honored to assist some of Wisconsin’s industry leaders in shaping the past and future of Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, and beyond. We are proud to carry forth the legacy of excellence established by those who came before us. Learn more about our history from the following timeline.


John M. Olin and Harry L. Butler form the partnership of Olin & Butler, with offices in the Central Bank and Trust Building, located at 1 West Main Street, Madison, on the Capitol Square.

John M. Olin

John M. Olin

Harry L. Butler

Harry L. Butler


Olin & Butler appear before the state’s highest court in four cases and successfully defend circuit court judgments in favor of their clients in matters involving a will contest, tort damages for late delivery of a telegram, a dispute regarding the proper distribution of life insurance proceeds, and a stock subscription dispute.


William Curkeet Sr. joins the law firm, which is renamed Olin, Butler & Curkeet.

Ray M. Stroud joins the law firm.

William Curkeet

William Curkeet, Sr.

Ray M. Stroud

Ray M. Stroud


Byron H. Stebbins joins the law firm, making the firm one of the largest in Madison.

Byron H. Stebbins

Byron H. Stebbins


The firm is renamed Olin, Butler & Stroud.


Clifford G. Mathys joins the law firm.

 Clifford G. Mathys

Clifford G. Mathys


After the addition of Herbert H. Thomas, the firm is renamed Olin, Butler, Thomas, Stebbins & Stroud.

Robert Mathew Rieser joins the law firm and becomes an expert on public utility and insurance laws.

Herbert H. Thomas

Herbert H. Thomas

Robert M. Reiser

Robert M. Rieser


Shortly after Harry Butler passed away, four law firm partners, Ray M. Stroud, Byron H. Stebbins, Emmert L. Wingert, and George H. Young take over management of the firm and change its name to Stroud, Stebbins, Wingert & Young. At this time, the law firm develops a specialization in business and tax law. Around this same time, the firm employs as an associate attorney one of Madison’s first female lawyers in private practice, Anna Mae Campbell Davis.

Anna Davis

Anna Mae Campbell Davis

Emmert Wingert

Emmert L. Wingert

George H. Young

George H. Young


The University of Wisconsin Foundation, the official fundraising arm of the University of Wisconsin, is created with Ray M. Stroud as one of its founding members and its secretary. The Stroud law firm continues to counsel the University of Wisconsin Foundation to this day.


Stroud law firm partner James Ward Rector is appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

James Ward Rector

James Ward Rector


Donald R. Stroud, son of Ray M. Stroud, joins the firm after mustering out of the U.S. Army after World War II, and the law firm is renamed Stroud, Stroud, Stebbins, Wingert & Young.

Donald R. Stroud

Donald R. Stroud


Stroud assists J.H. Findorff & Son incorporate as J. H. Findorff & Son Inc. The Stroud law firm and Findorff still collaborate today in building some of Madison’s most well-known structures.


Seward R. Stroud, oldest son of Ray M. Stroud, leaves his practice with Shea & Hoyt in Milwaukee to join the Stroud law firm.

Seward Stroud

Seward R. Stroud


Stroud partner Emmert L. Wingert is appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The firm changes its name to Stroud, Stebbins & Stroud.


With the help of Ray M. Stroud, the State of Wisconsin accepts a gift of the Colonel William F. Vilas trust estate to the University of Wisconsin. Today, there are undergraduate scholarships and more than 30 professorships funded by the Vilas Estate. Stroud attorneys have served as counsel to the Vilas Estate for generations, a tradition that continues to the present day.


C. Vernon Howard joins the Stroud law firm and develops a significant reputation as a top-notch estate planner.

C. Vernon Howard

C. Vernon Howard


Octopus Car Washes, Inc. is incorporated with the assistance of Stroud attorneys. Octopus now has locations around the country.


The law firm is renamed Stroud, Stroud, Stroud & Howard.


The Stroud law firm begins its long-term relationship with American TV & Appliance, Wisconsin’s own big box retailer of furniture, home appliances, and electronics.


The Stroud law firm merges with the partnership of Willink & Thompson (Donald D. Willink and Dale R. Thompson) to form the partnership Stroud, Stroud, Willink, Thompson & Howard.

Donald Willink

Donald D. Willink

Dale R. Thompson

Dale R. Thompson


The state legislature passes the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law to protect certain businesses (such as franchisees, dealers, and local distributors) from unfair treatment by their dealership grantors who have superior bargaining power. Stroud attorneys quickly develop an expertise in the WFDL as many client dealers fight back against dealerships’ contract terminations that violate the significant protections afforded by the new law.


Stroud attorneys assist Anchor Savings & Loan, now AnchorBank, fsb, with an addition to their headquarters at 25 West Main Street, Madison, on the Capitol Square. The Stroud law firm later relocates its offices into the new building in 1977.


The Stroud law firm begins its relationship with Schoep’s Ice Cream Co., Inc., Wisconsin’s oldest and largest independent ice cream manufacturer. Stroud and Schoep’s have grown together over the years, most recently with Schoep’s construction of a new distribution center on Madison’s east side in 2005.


Wisconsin Statutes are amended to provide that agricultural land will be assessed for taxation purposes using a use value, rather than market value, approach and to instruct the Department of Revenue to craft administrative rules phasing in the new assessment system. Stroud attorneys represent the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and a coalition of agricultural groups intervening in two subsequent lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the statute and the rules promulgated thereunder. In 2002, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules in favor of the DOR and agriculture groups, confirming that the DOR properly truncated the 10-year phase-in period to two years and dismissing the constitutionality challenge.


Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center opens its doors, becoming the centerpiece of Madison’s skyline. Stroud attorneys play a key role in creating this landmark, ushering the project through the state and city development approval process.


Out of the Box Publishing, Inc., launches its award-winning card and party game Apples to Apples®. The Stroud law firm works closely with the company over the next decade as it launches additional versions of the game, develops new games, and expands internationally. Stroud attorneys were instrumental in assisting Out of the Box’s 2007 sale to Mattel, Inc., of the rights for Apples to Apples® and two other popular games.


The law firm reorganizes as Stroud, Willink & Howard, LLC. The firm’s name is shortened for convenience and to commemorate the names of long standing members of the firm, Seward R. Stroud, Donald R. Stroud, Donald D. Willink, and C. Vernon Howard.


Stroud attorneys advise the Kelab, Inc., Board of Directors in the sale and transition of ownership in the Hilldale Shopping Center.


Stroud attorneys advise American TV & Appliance in its acquisition of Kennedy Hahn, combining two of the area’s most popular appliance retailers.


The Overture Center for the Arts opens its doors in downtown Madison. Stroud attorneys advise J. H. Findorff & Son Inc., the general contractor for the project.


Stroud attorneys assist Wisconsin Agro-Security Resource Network, Inc. (WARN) to incorporate and obtain tax exempt status. WARN is an industry-driven organization that has a network of agricultural and food safety professionals and government groups whose goals are to safeguard Wisconsin’s $59 billion food and agriculture industry.


The Dane County Bar Association publishes Lawyers Who Shaped Dane County,  in which many Stroud attorneys are highlighted for their contributions to the Dane County legal community, and the Stroud law firm is recognized as one of four 21st Century Dane County law firms with 19th Century roots.


Capital Brewery, named “America’s #1 Rated Brewery” by the Beverage Testing Institute’s World Beer Championships in 1998, announces a major expansion with the planned construction of a new facility in Sauk City with a potential 10-fold increase in production. Stroud attorneys assist with the purchase of the site and development of the new brewery location.


All photos used with permission of the Dane County Bar Association.