2021 Advocate of the Year

WDC Journal Edition: Summer 2021



Sheila M. Sullivan


Congratulations to Sheila M. Sullivan for being selected by the WDC Board of Directors as the 2021 Advocate of the Year! The Advocate of the Year Award recognizes the member with the most defense work success of the prior calendar year.


Sheila is a shareholder at Bell, Moore & Richter, S.C. She earned a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from George Washington University, and a B.S. in Languages and Linguistics, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. Sheila is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and all Wisconsin state and federal courts. Sheila practices civil litigation with primary focus on insurance defense, civil rights defense, and appellate litigation. She also handles a large number of subrogation claims for insurance company clients. Sheila has an “AV-Preeminent” rating by Martindale-Hubbell, has been voted by her peers as a “Superlawyer” from 2013 to 2021, and received a “Women in the Law” award from the Wisconsin Law Journal in 2013.


Sheila is a very talented writer. She routinely drafts motions and briefs at the trial court level on issues of statutory interpretation, insurance policy construction and complex procedural questions relating to liability and insurance coverage issues that are important to our membership. She has also written hundreds of appellate briefs in both state and federal court, including in the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Sheila’s writing talent is unparalleled. Her writing style is clean and concise. She avoids inflammatory or flowery language. She makes her points succinctly and clearly, and is an excellent advocate.


In addition to her motion and brief writing responsibilities, Sheila took over the lead authorship and editing responsibilities of Anderson on Wisconsin Insurance Law (formerly Wisconsin Insurance Law) after Arnold Anderson passed away. Undertaking this responsibility was no small feat. Anderson on Wisconsin Insurance Law is an insurance treatise published by the State Bar of Wisconsin that is considered the ‘bible’ of insurance law. Sheila updates the book with new case law in our field that is very helpful for WDC members. Her chapters and updates are cited routinely by insurance defense practitioners in briefs—on both sides of the Bar—as well as by judges.


Sheila is known for providing excellent service and guidance to clients in Wisconsin and across the country. She is the go-to person on coverage questions by clients and defense counsel around the state. She is also sought out by insurers nationally for Wisconsin coverage opinions, often in complex and unprecedented matters such as bad faith issues. Sheila knows insurance coverage like the back of her hand and is always willing to give her thoughts on a particular scenario.


Sheila is an inspiration to other women in the field of insurance law. She mentors younger attorneys regularly. Her door is always open and she is never stingy with her knowledge and experience. She has also raised four children while working full time, including adopting her two younger children from Mongolia, along with her husband Frank Sullivan (who is an attorney with the Wisconsin Department of Justice).


Sheila is an outstanding attorney in our practice area. She is smart, hardworking, decent, kind, and amazingly competent. She is a very worthy recipient of the WDC 2021 Advocate of the Year Award!


Nominated By: Patricia Epstein Putney, Ann C. Emmerich, Ward I. Richter, Bell, Moore & Richter, S.C.; Eileen I. Dorfman, Cap Specialty Inc.; Francis X. Sullivan, Wisconsin Department of Justice; and Laura M. Lyons, Secura Insurance.