Matthew J. Frank

  • (608) 268.5616(608) 268.5616
  • (608) 257.2508(608) 257.2508
Matthew J. Frank

Attorney Matt Frank’s practice focuses on environmental and energy law. He is also Chair of the firm's Business Practice Group. Matt provides experienced counsel to businesses, start-ups, municipalities, utilities, organizations and individuals in a wide range of environmental and energy matters, helping clients successfully navigate regulatory and legal challenges. In addition, he assists clients in achieving their goals in areas such as renewable energy development, energy efficiency, green building, natural resource protection and sustainability.

Matt is a former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Assistant Attorney General with the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). During his tenure as DNR Secretary from 2007 through 2010, he oversaw the DNR’s regulatory and permitting programs, including air and water quality, waste and recycling, wetlands, groundwater, environmental clean-ups and brownfields restoration. Matt worked closely with businesses and communities on sustainability initiatives such as the Green Tier program and the Green Tier Legacy Communities Charter. He also worked closely on environmental and natural resource issues with officials in the Environmental Protection Agency, other federal agencies, states across the country, and Wisconsin tribal and local governments.

Matt's environmental achievements at the DNR include the start of full-scale clean-up of PCB’s in the Fox River, passage of the Great Lakes Compact, initiatives to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90% and reducing phosphorous in Wisconsin’s lakes and streams. He also created a new DNR partnership with the University of Wisconsin to research and understand the future impacts of climate change on Wisconsin’s environment and economy, including business, agriculture, tourism, and urban and rural communities. 

Prior to serving as DNR Secretary, Matt served for 22 years as an Assistant Attorney General at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). An accomplished prosecutor and litigator, his tenure at DOJ included serving as the Director of the Criminal Litigation, Antitrust and Consumer Protection Unit. During his last six years at DOJ, he led the Legal Services Division, the largest public law firm in the state, providing legal representation to state agencies, the legislature and the Governor. Matt also served for four years as Secretary of the Department of Corrections, the largest agency in state government.

Clients value Matt's unique blend of experience as a lawyer and executive in the public sector. He combines strong advocacy and litigation skills, an understanding of local, state and federal governments, and extensive pragmatic and problem-solving experience to help clients achieve their goals. Matt serves on several non-profit boards, including Groundswell Conservancy and Cool Choices. In 2019, Matt was elected to serve as the Chair of the Executive Board of Directors of the Clean Lakes Alliance (CLA).

  • Wisconsin, 1981
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, 1981, J.D.
  • Carleton College, 1978, B.A.
    Honors: Magna Cum Laude
Associations and Memberships
  • Clean Lakes Alliance, Chair of Executive Board of Directors (2019)
  • Wisconsin State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (ABA)
  • Dane County Bar Association
  • Clean Lakes Alliance, Community Board (2014-Present)
  • Renewable, Alternative and Distributed Energy Resources Committee, ABA, Vice Chair (2015-2016)
  • Natural Heritage Land Trust, Board of Directors (2015-Present)
  • Wisconsin Technology Council, Early Stage Symposium, Steering Committee Member (2015)
  • Cool Choices, Board of Directors (2013-Present)
  • Environmental Council of the States (2007-2010)
  • Great Lakes Compact Council, Chair (2009-2010)
  • Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (2007-2010)
  • Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (2007-2010)
  • Governor’s Task Force on Global Warning (2007-2008)
  • Governors’ Climate and Forestry Task Force (2009-2010)
  • State Bar Professionalism committee (1987)
  • Wisconsin Judicial Council (1996-2002)
  • Wisconsin Truth In Sentencing Commission (2003-2004)
  • Criminal Penalties Study Committee (1998-1999)
  • Association of State Correctional Administrators (2003-2007)
Classes/Seminars Taught
  • "Public Service Commission Regulation of Solar Facilities", Spring Conference, Wisconsin Association of County Corporation Counsels (May 5, 2022)
  • "Ethics for Professional Engineers", Annual Environmental Conference, Federation of Environmental Technologists (December 9, 2021, Pewaukee, Wisconsin)
  • "Solar Project Siting in Wisconsin Towns", Wisconsin Towns Association Virtual Seminar (October 2021)
  • "Limits on Use of High-Capacity Wells Under Wisconsin Law", High-Capacity Water Well Science, Law and Regulation (Halfmoon Education, Inc. Webinar) (June 21, 2021)
  • "Complying with Water Quality Laws and Regulations", Wisconsin Water Laws & Regulations (HalfMoon Education, Inc. Webinar) (January 21, 2021)
  • "The Clean Power Plan and Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment", U.S. Green Building annual member meeting (December 2015)
  • "Utility Scale Solar and Community Solar, Recent Developments in Wisconsin", Renewable Energy in the Midwest Seminar (Law Seminars International) (October 8-9, 2015, Minneapolis, MN)
  • "Limits on Use of High Capacity Wells Under Wisconsin Law", High Capacity Water Well Science, Law and Regulation Seminar (Halfmoon Education, Inc.) (September 2, 2015, Madison, WI)
  • "Site Control and Due Diligence", Wind Energy Balance-of-Plant Design Seminar (UW College of Engineering) (October 27-28, 2015, Madison, WI)