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Aaron A. Nelson

Founding Attorney – Nelson Defense Group


Over his many years dedicated to Defending People Against the Power of the Government, Aaron has received numerous recognitions, including being named one of 50 Super Lawyers in Criminal Defense in Wisconsin (2011-2017), being AV rated by Martindale Hubbard, winning the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) “Martin Hanson Advocates Prize” a record five (5) times (2010, 2014, 2016, 2016, and 2017), and in 2014 he was honored with David Niblack Award from WACDL. The David C. Niblack Award was created to honor and preserve the memory of David Niblack, “an outstanding attorney who devoted his life and considerable talents to the defense of those who needed it but could not pay for it.” Recipients of the award are attorneys being recognized for contributions to the effective defense of the indigent, either through cumulative career contributions or through outstanding individual accomplishments.

Aaron also routinely presents to other attorney’s at numerous Continuing Legal Education courses throughout Wisconsin (Wisconsin State Public Defender Conference, Wisconsin State Public Defender Trial Skills training), WACDL, Barry Cohen’s annual OWI seminar as well as nationally at the National College of Criminal Defense.

Adam P. Nero

Attorney At Law


Adam began his career at a Madison OWI/DUI and criminal defense law firm, after graduating magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, MN. Adam lives for the courtroom and has an undeniable track record of success. Having practiced in over 50 Wisconsin counties, he is ready, willing, and able to fight your case -- and your prosecutor knows it.

An authority on Wisconsin OWI/DUI laws, he has published related articles in the Wisconsin Law Journal in 2016 and 2017. Other attorneys frequently consult him for assistance on their OWI/DUI cases, and he has delivered training on OWI litigation to attorneys across the state. He has beaten criminal and OWI/DUI charges in the trial courts, won significant sentence reductions and new trials on post-conviction motions, and earned reversals of criminal convictions in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

In both 2015 and 2017, he completed the intensive curriculum in OWI/DUI defense at the National College for DUI Defense, held at Harvard Law School. In 2018, he was selected as a SuperLawyers Rising Star, a distinction awarded only to 2.5% of lawyers in the State of Wisconsin.

Robert Maxey

Attorney At Law

Robert Maxey joined Nelson Defense Group after graduating from Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, WI, where he was named to the Dean’s List and earned The CALI Excellence for the Future Award for his outstanding work in Advanced Brief Writing.  Prior to law school, he attended The University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, where he double majored in Political Science and International Relations and was a member of the Honors Program. 

When it comes to legal writing and research, Robert is exceptional in both his talent and his creativity.  His impressive writing ability and depth of legal knowledge have garnered him recognition as one of the most talented young criminal defense attorneys in the state.  When it comes to Defending People Against the Power of Government, Robert is an invaluable asset for any client, in any case.

Brian Findley

Attorney At Law

Brian Findley is a graduate of Macalester College.  He has a graduate degree from the University of Southern California and he graduated from law school at the University of California-Berkeley.  Originally an appellate State Public Defender, and later a supervisor in that office, Brian has won many appellate cases in his 25 years of practice in Wisconsin’s trial courts, the court of appeals, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  He has won 3 cases in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and he continues to enjoy success representing clients.  His strengths are legal analysis and writing law briefs, and he looks forward to the opportunity to do so for you or someone that you care about. 

Connie Berning

Legal Assistant


With over 25 years of experience as a Legal Assistant, Connie Berning has been an integral part of Attorney Nelson’s criminal defense team. Whether overseeing day-to-day operations, case management, or trial prep, Connie knows how manage a law firm and can assist Attorney Nelson through all phases of a case, so that he can focus his attention on the important matters in the courtroom.

Connie went to college for Court Reporting, but changed her career path when she realized she preferred helping people. Although Connie has focused the majority of her career on criminal defense, she also has extensive knowledge in family law and personal injury. Connie feels she’s always been fortunate to work for attorneys who not only appreciate good work, but also value family.

In addition to serving clients with compassion and keen insight, Connie is a strong believer in mentoring and community service. She volunteers for several veteran and youth organizations. Growing up on a dairy farm in Central Wisconsin, Connie knows how to work hard, which is seen in her loyalty to Attorney Nelson and dedication to clients. In her free time, Connie loves to cook, bake, sew, and work in her vegetable garden.

Mariah Vanasse


Mariah serves as paralegal to Attorney Nelson. In her role as paralegal she performs extensive review of discovery and evidence, organizing documents as well as creating summaries/chronologies of facts.

Mariah holds an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science-Paralegal from Chippewa Valley Technical College.

She has served as paralegal on a number of complex cases in which her responsibilities included: file organization, discovery review, trial preparation and providing trial support.

In her free time she enjoys painting, spending time with family and friends, and being outdoors.

Gaoee Xiong

Legal Assistant

After receiving a legal related degree from UW-River Falls, Gaoee Xiong joined Nelson Defense Group in the summer of 2018. Gaoee is thrilled to be a part of such a caring and hardworking team and has enjoyed assisting clients and helping them work through their challenging circumstances and overcome their obstacles in life.

In her free time she enjoys traveling, spending time with her friends and family.  Gaoee is always looking for new adventures, places, and foods to explore.  

Courtney Westendorf

Legal Assistant

Courtney was excited to join Nelson Defense Group in 2019. With three years of personal injury experience, Courtney was eager to shift her focus to Criminal Defense. Courtney has very quickly proven herself to be a valuable asset to Nelson Defense Group. Courtney brings a strong work ethic and a passion to help people to her role as Legal Assistant to Brian Findley.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys fishing with her husband, reading, going to the movies, playing with her cats, and watching football.