Two Madison Trial Lawyers, Burr W. Jones and Francis J. Lamb, founded Axley over a century ago in 1885.  Their philosophy of recruiting only the best legal professionals resulted in making Axley the full-service and well-respected firm that it is known as today. Watch the video below for a full account of Axley’s history.


1880 Burr Jones and Arthur Loomis Sanborn form a partnership called Jones & Sanborn
1882 Jones is elected to Congress and serves one term
1885 Jones partners with Francis J. Lamb to form Lamb & Jones
1896 Jones and E. Ray Stevens form a partnership called Jones & Stevens
1897 Jones is appointed to and becomes the Chair of the Wisconsin Tax Commission, later playing an integral role in the creation of Wisconsin’s modern taxation system
1901 Stevens is elected to the State Assembly
1903 Madison General Hospital (MGH) opens as Madison’s first general public hospital with the assistance and legal expertise of E.J.B. Schubring, one of Axley Brynelson’s founding attorneys. Stevens is appointed Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit by Governor Robert M. LaFollette. Jones and Stevens’ partnership ends with Stevens’ judicial appointment
1904 Jones and Schubring form a partnership. Jones & Stevens becomes Jones & Schubring. Founding Attorney Sanborn is elected to the Senate with 11,129 votes, defeating G. Schwindt, who had 3,495 votes
1905 Sanborn is nominated by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as a Federal Judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Schubring, along with Magnus Swenson and Phillip Spooner, forms the Southern Wisconsin Power Company to study the hydroelectric potential of the Wisconsin River. The Company would go on to build the Kilbourn Dam, which was considered a modern engineering marvel and is responsible for making the Wisconsin Dells a popular travel destination today
1916 Jones and Schubring represent the plaintiff in Southern Wisconsin Railway Company v. City of Madison. Their victory in court holds the railway responsible for paving Wisconsin’s roads after its rail lines were abandoned
1918 Jones employs Daisy Lorigan as his secretary, a progressive hire for the time. Lorigan continues to work at the firm for 45 years
1920 Jones is appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and serves two consecutive terms
1923 Schubring, William Ryan and Arnold Petersen form a partnership called Schubring, Ryan & Petersen
1926 Stevens is elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, succeeding former law partner Jones
1928 Firm moves to 122 West Washington Avenue. Ralph Axley and L.F. Lamb join the firm as associates
1930 The Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is created by a judgment of the Dane County Circuit Court. Ryan serves as MMSD’s first attorney
1937 Robert Sutherland joins the firm. The firm becomes Schubring, Ryan, Petersen & Sutherland
1939 Floyd Brynelson joins the firm for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Navy
1943 Petersen becomes the President of the Dane County Bar Association, becoming the second of Axley’s attorneys after Burr Jones to hold this title
1946 Brynelson is discharged from the Navy as Lieutenant Commander and rejoins the firm
1960 Firm becomes Schubring, Petersen, Sutherland & Axley
1961 Firm becomes Petersen, Sutherland, Axley & Brynelson
1970 Firm becomes Petersen, Axley, Brynelson & Herrick
1972 Firm becomes Axley, Brynelson, Herrick & Gehl
1978 Firm becomes Brynelson, Herrick, Gehl & Bucaida
1985 Firm becomes Brynelson, Herrick, Bucaida, Dorschel & Armstrong
1988 Firm becomes Axley Brynelson and moves to its current location, 2 East Mifflin Street

John Walsh becomes the President of the State Bar of Wisconsin

1990 David Easton is appointed Axley’s first Managing Partner
1998 Art Kurtz succeeds Easton as Managing Partner
2003 Michael Anderson becomes Axley’s Managing Partner
2009 John Mitby becomes the firm’s Managing Partner
2012 Waukesha-based law firm Murn & Martin joins Axley
2014 Patricia Gibeault becomes the firm’s Managing Partner
2017 Buck Sweeney becomes Axley’s Managing Partner
2020 Greg Collins becomes Axley’s Managing Partner
2022 Axley opens an office based in Janesville, Wisconsin
2024 Judd Genda becomes Axley’s Managing Partner


Burr Jones

From humble beginnings as a farmhand in Union, Wisconsin, Burr Jones rose to become what Wisconsin Lawyer called, “one of the last of Wisconsin’s great all-purpose trial lawyers,” and an undoubtedly prominent figure in Wisconsin state history. His legacy is one of many notable achievements, including his service as a member of Congress and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Dane County District Attorney, Chairman of the Democratic State Convention and the President of the State Bar Association.

E. Ray Stevens

Edmund Ray Stevens jump started his legal career by joining Burr Jones to form the private practice Jones & Stevens only one year out of law school. Throughout his career, Stevens achieved many milestones, such as being elected to the State Assembly and appointed Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit;  he also served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1926 up until his death in 1930.

E. J. B. Schubring

Edward John Bernhard Schubring, along with engineer Magnus Swenson and Attorney Phillip Spooner, studied hydroelectric power and oversaw the construction of a dam and power plant at Kilbourn, now the Wisconsin Dells. Schubring also served as Madison General Hospital Association’s first President, occupying the position for more than 30 years, and was the Vice President of the French Battery Company, now known as Rayovac.

William Ryan

William Ryan graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1904 and joined the office of Burr W. Jones for a year before he became the city attorney. After becoming partner in the firm, Ryan practiced law primarily in the areas of public utilities and municipal issues, serving as the attorney for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Wisconsin Power and Light Company.

Arnold Petersen

Arnold R. Petersen graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1914 and began practicing law mainly in probate and tax matters. Petersen is most recognized for his instrumental role in starting Wisconsin’s First Federal Savings and Loan, today known as Associated Bank.

Ralph Axley

Beginning his law career as a clerk at the very office that would one day bear his name, Ralph Emerson Axley joined the firm Schubring, Ryan & Petersen as an associate in 1928. He was best known for his analysis on collective bargaining in the field of labor law and handled a number of appeals to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Floyd Brynelson

After graduating in 1939 from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Floyd A. Brynelson joined the firm Schubring, Ryan, Petersen & Sutherland for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1942. When he returned to the firm, Brynelson practiced mainly public utilities law, specifically telephone matters, and he served as General Counsel for more than 20 independent phone companies; he was also the Director and General Counsel for General Telephone and Electronics Company for 16 years. Later, he was elected President of Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1989.


In 2012, Axley expanded its services into Waukesha, combining with Murn & Martin, S.C., a firm that traces its roots back to 1953, when Attorney Frank Murn set up a law practice designed to meet the legal needs of a diverse group of business owners, laborers and families in West Allis.

Over the years, the Murn name has been associated with high quality legal services at a reasonable cost. Clients have come to expect not only sound legal advice but also real-world experience built over decades of work in business and real estate development. The Murn & Martin team brings expertise in general business matters, including drafting, reviewing and negotiating commercial contracts; helping developers through the process of buying, rezoning, building and leasing; corporate real estate transactions of all kinds; succession planning and estate planning; litigation; matters involving public utilities and telecommunications; land use and zoning; and more.

The joining of the two firms means that Murn & Martin, S.C. is now known as Axley Brynelson, LLP. The Waukesha office location will not change, but Murn & Martin clients will now have access to Axley’s broad expertise and full range of legal services.