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Brookfield attorney builds community’s charitable pipeline

Unlike some of his colleagues, attorney Jerry Flood doesn’t find business – or luck – on the links. He much prefers miniature golf and bird watching to birdies. But that hasn’t hurt his law practice over the years.

“I think a lot of people going through their careers think ‘Oh golf – that is where all the deals are made,’” Flood said. “I didn’t do it. I was just fine.”

Forty years later after he opened a solo practice in Elm Grove, Flood’s legal career continues. He spent 28 years running his own practice, starting first in general law before focusing more in estate planning and tax work. In 2000, he merged with Milwaukee-based Davis & Kuelthau SC.

“I just loved the concept of a perpetual gift because of the fact that the principal stays intact and earnings from the fund go to charity and grow over time,” Flood said.

What Flood excels in is encouraging people to think of charitable giving as part of their estate planning. If they express an interest, he doesn’t hesitate to dig deeper and explore what they are passionate about and why. His psychology degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee works in tandem with his law degree from Chicago Kent on those occasions.

Having that conversation might be hard for some. Estate planning and end-of-life issues aren’t exactly conversation starters. Some people may not be interested. Others are unsure. But Flood has a gentle way of bringing up the subject. He guides, not goads. With one of his clients, he introduced the concept of the Foundation at their first meeting. It wasn’t until 20 years later, when the husband was in the hospital and the wife was in an assisted living facility, that he again revisited the subject. But Flood didn’t back down. Nor did he bug.

The result? A $2.2 million bequest that supports several local agencies the donor cared about, including the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

Though he has sold many people on the concept of charitable giving, Flood wouldn’t exactly call himself a salesman. He simply believes his role as an attorney is to explain to his clients what options and opportunities are available.

“If it is a family with a lot of children then I say that charity begins at home and you take care of your children,” Flood said. “But if they express an interest in charity, I raise the issue of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation as a vehicle.”

He likes to remind people that there aren’t many places in the area that have been around longer.

“I just loved the concept of a perpetual gift because of the fact that the principal stays intact and earnings from the fund go to charity and grow over time,” Flood said.

He deals with numbers on a daily basis yet one thing Flood can’t put a number on is the number of clients he has referred over the years. There are probably more in the pipeline than he or the Foundation realizes.

“I don’t keep track,” Flood said. “I just keep sending them down there.”

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