University of Wisconsin–Madison

Donald Bach

Adjunct Professor

Recently Taught Courses
601 Intro to American Law


Donald Bach teaches Introduction to American Law to international law students as part of their advanced degree program. Bach received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then received his commission in the United States Naval Reserve and spent slightly more than three years on active duty, including a tour in the Vietnam combat zone aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Benjamin Stoddert. After his active duty service, Bach joined the Naval Reserve and retired with the rank of Captain (0-6).

Following his release from active duty, Bach received his law degree, cum laude, from UW Law School. He joined the law firm of DeWitt Ross & Stevens in Madison, where he practiced law for approximately eleven years, with an emphasis on litigation, administrative and environmental law. In 1986, Bach was named Legal Counsel and Advisor to Governor Tommy G. Thompson. He served as the Acting Chief of Staff of the Governor's Office until a permanent Chief of Staff was named. He served as Pardon Counsel and Chairman of the Governor's Pardon Advisory Board. In September 1987, Bach was appointed as Acting Chairman of the Wisconsin Parole Board. In 1988, Bach was appointed as Administrator of the Division of Administrative Services in the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and then as Administrator of the Division of State Agency Services in the Wisconsin Department of Administration, and finally as Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

Bach returned to the DeWitt law firm in 1992. From 1997 to 1999, he served as Chairman of the State Bar's Bench-Bar Committee, a committee of lawyers and judges tasked with making recommendations for changes in Wisconsin's system of justice. In May 1998, Mr. Bach was named as by the Governor's Advisory Council on Judiciary Selection as "one of the three best qualified candidates" for appointment to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. In 2004, Bach was appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to the Judicial Commission, the agency that investigates and enforces judicial ethics and disability matters. He served as its Chair in 2007 and 2008.

Bach was first named a Super Lawyer and Best Lawyer in America in 2006; in 2008, he was honored as a Leader in the Law by the Wisconsin Law Journal; and in 2009, as a Top Lawyer (administrative law) by Madison Magazine. Bach is the author of "To Forgive, Devine: The Governor's Pardoning Power," Wisconsin Lawyer, February 2005; "Landing in the Alphabet Soup: The A.B.C.G. Compulsory Counterclaim Trap," Wisconsin Lawyer, May 2008; "Closed Session, Open Book: Sifting the Sands Case," Wisconsin Lawyer, October, 2009; and "The Rapanos Rap: Grappling with Plurality Decisions," Bloomberg BNA, US Law Week Alert and Legal News, October 2012. In 2011, Bach was awarded the Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award by the Wisconsin Law Foundation.

In 2017, Bach served as a member of the faculty who instructed 19 visiting Shanghai, China judges as part of the University of Wisconsin Law School's East Asian Legal Studies Center continuing program.

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