UW Law School celebrates alumnus William Shernoff '62

In September, the University of Wisconsin Law School recognized the achievements of William Shernoff when he was presented the Wisconsin Alumni Association's 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Shernoff, widely recognized as the pioneer of bad-faith insurance law, is a native of Crivitz, Wis., and graduated from the Law School in 1962. His landmark 1974 win on behalf of an injured roofer in California helped lay the groundwork for bad-faith insurance reform.

With consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Shernoff co-founded the National Insurance Consumer Organization and in the 1990s, provided funding to start the UW Law School's Consumer Law Program, the precursor to the Consumer Law Clinic. The clinic serves as one of the main programs in the school's Economic Justice Institute, handling individual and class action lawsuits in state and federal court covering a variety of consumer protection issues.

Dean Raymond with William Shernoff"His work pioneered an extraordinary remedy that helped turn disputes between ordinary citizens and insurance companies into fair fights," Raymond says. "The impact of his career can be felt in every area of economic life and every part of the world, as can be seen by his efforts on behalf of Holocaust survivors.  A thread of humanity and compassion connects his work - he is a tireless advocate on behalf of those whose rights might otherwise be ignored.

A frequent lecturer and author, Shernoff co-authored the legal textbook, "Insurance Bad Faith Litigation," which has become the field's definitive treatise, as well as "How to Make Insurance Companies Pay Your Claims . . . . And What To Do If They Don't, "Payment Refused" and "Fight Back and Win - And How To Make Your HMO Pay Up." Shernoff has also been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and on "60 Minutes."

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. The award celebrates outstanding UW-Madison graduates whose professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university exemplify the Wisconsin Idea.

Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony"I am truly grateful for the legal education I received at the University of Wisconsin Law School," Shernoff says. "The creative and progressive spirit that was instilled in me then still burns inside me today."

Shernoff is one of five recipients of this year's Distinguished Alumni Award. Fellow 2012 honorees are: Carl Djerassi PhD '45, playwright, author and co-inventor of the first successful oral contraceptive; Kay Koplovitz '67, the first female cable network president in television history; Cora Marrett MA '65, PhD '68, deputy director of the National Science Foundation; and Grammy-nominated jazz musician Ben Sidran '67. 

Watch a video about William Shernoff's Wisconsin childhood and his remarkable career achievement. 

To learn more about William Shernoff and the award presentation, visit the Wisconsin Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award page, or watch the video below.

WAA and Law School staff

Submitted by WAA and Law School staff on November 14, 2012

This article appears in the categories: Articles

Submit an Article