President’s Message

WDC Journal Edition: Summer 2016
By: Jeff Leavell, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

Dear friends, I hope you are making some time to enjoy the great Wisconsin outdoors. In that spirit, WDC is looking forward to its annual meeting and summer conference at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells. In the lead up to that meeting, the WDC Board of Directors has been very busy. We hope the membership is sensing this burst of energy. I have much to report about it in this message.

The Board of Directors’ strategic planning session was held on March 11. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to the survey we distributed. Your feedback was instrumental to the planning process. The Board of Directors and former officers discussed issues and goals, facilitated by a DRI representative with much experience doing this sort of planning. The result was a proposed strategic plan, which the WDC Board of Directors adopted at its spring meeting. The plan sets goals for the next several years including membership growth and revitalization. The plan also calls for WDC to establish some new committees, among other steps in the strategic plan. New committees include a Women in Law Committee, a Legislative Committee, a Membership Committee, and likely other substantive committees like Trial Tactics, Insurance Coverage, Employment Law, Workers Compensation, Governmental Practice, and Appellate Practice. Now is the time for you to get involved in those WDC committees and activities. We need your help to make sure that they are successful and active groups.

WDC’s officers heard of other states’ successes with comparable committees during the strategic planning session and at recent State and Local Defense Organizations’ regional meetings. Consequently, we decided to launch our own Women in Law Committee, which Laura Lyons is spearheading. This committee is scheduling events for 2016-2017, and is hopeful it can get at least one luncheon program and happy hour in this year, with substantive programming next year. The committee has lots of energy, and is setting goals now. Please contact Laura if you would like to get involved.

The Legislative Committee will be evaluating legislative proposals, working with our lobbyist representative, and engaging our membership more in the legislative process. Please contact me if you want to participate in this committee.

The Young Lawyers Committee continues its activities, most recently in sponsoring a seminar, “Pleasing Your Corporate Client—Perspective From an Insurance Company,” set for later this summer, with Ariella Schreiber speaking. Members young and old could benefit from that seminar! Danielle Rousset chairs this committee. Please contact her if you want to get involved in this committee.

The Website Committee is reviewing proposals from technology experts to modernize our website in appearance and function. Chris Bandt chairs this committee, and would love to hear any suggestions from members as to how the website could be more user-friendly. Please let Chris know if you want to be involved.

The Amicus Committee, chaired by Monte Weiss, was recently granted amicus status in the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s review of Smith v. Anderson, Appeal No. 2015AP79, involving an insurer’s duty to defend under a general liability policy and a petitioner’s request for changes in the “four corners” rule and finality given coverage declarations. This committee is always looking for cases of interest to members, and for member involvement.

Our strategic plan calls for a larger Board of Directors. The WDC Board Executive Committee will be recommending several new board members at the annual meeting along with a bylaw amendment to increase the number of director positions.

Please mark your calendar and plan to be at the WDC Summer Conference. It will include an excellent lineup of speakers. Presentations will include interesting topics like “Statistics in the Courtroom: A Seminar for Litigators,” “Talking About my Generation: Professionalism in the Multigenerational Workplace,” presented by Michelle Silverthorn from the Illinois Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism, and Judge Michael Fitzpatrick, Rock County Circuit Court, presenting on the Internet and the admissibility of its content as evidence. We urge you to come and bring your associates, as the discussion on the multigenerational workplace will definitely be a conversation starter! We also have our Annual Meeting at that time and will be honoring the various award recipients including the Advocate of the Year, the Distinguished Professional Service Award, the Government Service Award, and the Publication Award.

This is my final message as President. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President. I have greatly enjoyed it and am proud of our efforts and all the energy of our membership. Keep up the good work!