Kathleen B. Stilling

Kathleen B. Stilling

Brookfield, Wisconsin
Avvo Rating 10.0 superb Top Attorney Criminal DefenseLinked In

Kathleen B. Stilling is a partner in the Brookfield law firm of Buting, Williams & Stilling, S.C.  She returned to the firm in 2011 after serving her term as a Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge, where her legal knowledge and professionalism were widely recognized. As a judge, Attorney Stilling presided over criminal jury trials, motion hearings, sentencing hearings and post-conviction cases.

She received her undergraduate degree and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin.  She is a founding member and past president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Association for Women Lawyers. 

Attorney Stilling was an Assistant State Public Defender in the Milwaukee trial office from 1981 - 1989 and her present private practice is entirely criminal defense, both trials and appeals.  She defends adult and juvenile clients in cases involving sexual offenses, drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.  She lectures in the areas of sexual assault cases, ethics and trial practice.  Her first article published in The Champion, 2015, has become a popular primer on defense of child sex cases.  Her follow-up article, co-authored with Attorney Jerome Buting, was published in The Champion, 2016. WISN radio host Mark Belling called her the "Go-to lawyer in the state of Wisconsin" for child sex cases. (air date: July 12, 2010).

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Homicides and Violent Crimes
  • Sex Offenses
  • Drug Offenses
  • Child Pornography
  • Internet Sex Crimes
  • Juvenile Offenses
  • Appeals
  • Wrongful Convictions
  • False Confessions and Illegal Searches
  • DNA & Computer Evidence
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drunk Driving

Bar Admissions

  • Wisconsin, 1981
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1993
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin, 1981


  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
    • Doctor of Jurisprudence - 1981
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
    • B.A., Bachelor of Arts - 1978

Published Works


  • Frequent lecturer on the defense of Child Sexual Assault
  • 2008 Annual Wisconsin State Public Defender Program
  • 2009 National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers Spring Meeting and Seminar
  • 2012 Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, "Handling Child Sex Abuse Cases" and "The Judge Talk - A View from the Bench for Defense Lawyers"
  • 2012 National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer's Annual Meeting, "Voir Dire in Child Sex Cases"
  • 2012 Annual State Public Defender Conference, "Ethical Issues in Plea Negotiations"
  • 2011 Annual State Public Defender Conference, "Effective Advocacy: What Are Judges Really Thinking?"
  • Community Presentations: 2009-2013 "Teen Sex and the Justice System", 2011 "Alcohol Policy in Wisconsin" and Wisconsin's New Drunk Driving Law", 2010-2011 "How Judges Make Sentencing Decisions", 2012 "Defending the Accused - Taking Apart the State's Case"
  • 2013 National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers Fall Conference, "Defending the Unthinkable: Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault and Child Victim Cases."
  • 2015 Wisconsin Association Criminal Defense Lawyers, "Zealous Advocacy in Sex Crimes."
  • 2015 Wisconsin Public Defender Investigation Conference, "Interviewing Children"
  • 2017 New Mexico Public Defender Conference, "Cross-Examining Children"

Honors and Awards

  • 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 Leading Lawyers Highest-Ranked Attorneys by M: Milwaukee's Lifestyle Magazine
  • Designated as Super Lawyer in 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Recipient of the 2016 William Coffey Memorial Award by the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. This award recognizes "Exceptional Contributions to Professionalism in the Field of Criminal Justice."

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member 1995 to present, Co-Chair CLE Committee on Sex Crimes
  • Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member 1985 to present, President 1993-1994
  • Association for Women Lawyers, 1989 - Present
  • Waukesha County Bar Association, 1995 - Present
  • Judicial Council Criminal Procedure Committee (ad hoc member), 2012 to present

Past Employment Positions

  • Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge , 2010 - 2011