Civil Rights Attorneys in Madison WI
Civil Rights Attorneys Jeff Scott Olson, Andrea Farrell, Emma Ferguson, and the experienced staff at The Jeff Scott Olson Law Firm have built a national reputation by representing individuals and small companies against corporations, government agencies, and insurance companies. We have a good deal of experience in representing the victims of employment, housing and public accommodations discrimination, police misconduct, and First Amendment violations, as well as accident victims and whistleblowers.
Attorney Jeff Scott Olson
Attorney Jeff Scott Olson was born in Augusta, Wisconsin, a small farming community. He came to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin, graduated with honors in 1972, and obtained his law degree in 1976. In over forty-five years of private practice, he has almost always represented individuals or small businesses against government agencies, corporations and insurance companies.
Over the years, he has won a number of landmark cases, including Watkins v. LIRC, which established the right of an employment discrimination victim to recover a separate award of attorneys’ fees under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, and Gilbert v. State of Wisconsin Medical Examining Board, which established due process safeguards applicable to professional license revocation cases.
Jeff Olson has earned the respect of other trial lawyers and the trust of his clients. A nationally-recognized expert on civil rights law, he has been asked on over sixty occasions to present educational programs for the training of other lawyers, and has authored more than a dozen articles on civil rights topics in national publications. He was the winner of the American Civil Liberties Union’s “Volunteer Attorney of the Year” award in 1986 and the Dane County Fair Housing Council’s “Fair Housing Advocate Award” in 1988. He won the Wisconsin Employment Lawyers’ Association’s “Most Decisive Victory” award in 2010 and the Dane County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s “Warrior of the Year” award in 2013.
He was voted “Best Civil Rights Lawyer in Madison” in Madison Magazine’s January 1994 edition. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Superlawyers, and is a past chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin Individual Rights Section.
Attorney Andrea J. Farrell
Attorney Andrea J. Farrell specializes in constitutional law, especially police misconduct cases and employment discrimination. She secured a monumental 7 million dollar jury verdict against the City of Madison and two Madison police officers for their fatal shooting of Ashley DiPiazza, a widely-loved young woman, in her own home, during an emotional crisis. She was also the lead attorney in our firm in the civil rights case involving a Madison police officer’s unreasonable use of deadly force against beloved local musician Paul Heenan, which resulted in a 2.3 million dollar settlement.
Andrea stands as a bulwark against police brutality whether the victim is a person or an animal. Some of her other recent victories include obtaining a significant settlement for a Milwaukee woman whose dogs were shot by police as they executed a search warrant in the woman’s home; securing six figures through the representation of a Beloit woman who was detained by police for 4.5 hours for questioning about another person’s criminal act; and winning a jury verdict for an Algoma man whose jaw had been fractured by police during his arrest for attempting to stab someone with a knife while intoxicated.
Andrea is equally steadfast in battling discrimination against employees and business patrons, and has successfully taken on powerful corporate employers such as Hobby Lobby, Olive Garden, and Walgreens, as well as government employers such as the State of Wisconsin. She has been successful in obtaining judgments and settlements for discrimination based on political affiliation, disability, race, age, and sex, including sexual orientation and sexual harassment. She has negotiated separation and severance agreements for many employees who are threatened with or otherwise believe they might soon be facing termination. While she routinely represents employees, she has also assisted employers who realize the value of sage advice from someone who is intimately familiar with the employee’s perspective.
Animal welfare is dear to Andrea’s heart. She represents Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue in Rock Springs and over the years has represented organizations including the Alliance for Animals, PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, animal rights protesters, veterinarians, and pet owners. In a case that gained national media attention, she persuaded a Dane County judge to hire a special prosecutor to investigate the University of Wisconsin scientists who were conducting animal experiments that had resulted in painful deaths to sheep, which ultimately led to the University’s abandonment of the experiments. In a locally important case, she secured a monetary settlement for animal rights protesters who were cited while protesting the circus in Dane County, clearing the way for hassle-free protests in the future.
Clients know that in Andrea, they have an attorney who will leave no stone unturned – her mastery of the facts of her cases is second to none. Her thoroughness has even been praised by opposing parties, and has led opposing attorneys to refer their own friends and clients to her when they find they need a plaintiff’s lawyer — one of the highest compliments an attorney can receive. At one hearing taking place at a military base, where Andrea was representing a member of the National Guard in a sexual-orientation discrimination case, a higher level official on the defense side actually approached Andrea during a break, telling her he was so impressed with her ability to elicit damaging facts from the defense witnesses, he hoped she would consider representing him in an unrelated matter he had coming up in his personal life.
Andrea recognizes that many people step into her office as a result of one of the worst things that has ever and will ever happen to them. Andrea realizes that while she will have many cases throughout her career, her clients will often only ever have one. Therefore, she refuses to adopt a “you win some, you lose some” attitude, and litigates every case as if it is the only case that matters.
Andrea was honored by the Wisconsin Law Journal in 2010 as an “Up and Coming Attorney,” and in 2015 as a “Leader in the Law.”
Attorney Emma L. Ferguson
Attorney Emma L. Ferguson graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2021 and began work at our firm that summer. In law school, she worked with the Wisconsin Innocence Project and helped secure an exoneration for a man who had been wrongfully convicted in Georgia. During her final semester of law school, she interned for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.
Emma is a passionate advocate for civil justice. She strives to tell her clients’ stories so that they will be heard and acknowledged by people in power who would otherwise ignore them. With Emma in your corner, your story will be heard.
Sarah Furey Crandall, Trial Consultant
After a career as a successful criminal defense attorney with a nation-wide practice, (in which she demonstrated her abilities as such a brilliant strategist and superb litigator as to be ranked among the Best Lawyers in America), Sarah Crandall retired. We were delighted when, following her retirement, she agreed to join our office and bring her skills to bear as a trial consultant.
In that capacity, she has proven to be a strong and effective strategist on a wide spectrum of cases involving individual rights. Experienced in both First Amendment jurisprudence and business law, her consultation has been instrumental in keeping our clients’ businesses open and profitable despite public pressure to keep them from operating.
Sarah’s mastery of Eighth Amendment issues substantially contributed to our obtaining sizable settlements in a number of cases brought on behalf of prisoners, including recovery of money awards for the children of an inmate who died as a result of neglect, an inmate who barely survived Stage IV cancer following staff indifference to his medical needs, and numerous inmates whose sentences were miscalculated so that they served more time than they should have.
Her background as a highly skilled criminal defense attorney has been of inestimable value in our successfully litigating a variety of police misconduct cases including damages claims for unlawful searches and excessive force.
Many of our clients who have utilized Sarah’s consultation skills are other law firms. They report that they have found her creative approach and skills in analyzing complex litigation to be invaluable to them.
Her unique vision of a case coupled with her dogged determination and tireless efforts can change the outcome of a case. She will find a way to humanize even the most unattractive client. She will read the jury in ways you have not thought of. She will help your best litigators be even better. She will find the expert you cannot find. She will make the call you would not think to make. Many have found that her participation in a case as a trial consultant can make all the difference in the world.
Katlyn Pollari, Paralegal
Claudia Shipley, Legal Secretary