Something Old, Something New

WDC Journal Edition: Summer/Fall 2008
By: Robert Lauer

It is a real privilege to assume the role of President of Civil Trial Counsel of Wisconsin. As I reflected on what I wanted to say in my first column, I could not help but to think about how grateful I am for all of the fine work done by our past Presidents and Boards to help move the organization to the good place in which we find ourselves today. Of special note, I want to thank our past President, Jim Mathie, for his insight and strong leadership during this past year.

Over the course of my 25 years of working as a trial attorney, I have gotten to know a variety of lawyers; some great ones and some very good ones. Not surprisingly, I can tell you that some of the finest and most skilled trial lawyers I have worked with over the years are members of this organization. As a group, we need to utilize that talent while also making CTCW attractive to new members who will be the trial lawyers of tomorrow. In my view, one of the keys to maintaining the vitality of CTCW is to get and keep good people working in leadership, membership and educational roles. In light of that, one of my primary goals for the next year will be to enhance the visibility of CTCW and its members in the legal and lay communities.

We have not been effective enough in highlighting our many successes. We need to unabashedly promote the organization and our greatest strength, which is our member lawyers and the excellent legal representation we provide every day to clients at reasonable rates. Certainly, our colleagues in the plaintiff’s bar recognize that reality. Now, we need to redouble our efforts to let others know that CTCW has experienced trial lawyers who can handle a wide range of litigation with great success and at a reasonable cost.

All of this looks great on paper and sounds like a noble plan, but how do we really achieve that goal? First, we embrace our past and continuing working relationship with the insurance industry and work to strengthen that long-standing alliance. Also, let us take note of the many things that this organization has done so well for so long, and build upon that success. That work includes providing legal education through seminars; publishing an outstanding journal; being the voice of the defense bar on legal issues and legislative initiatives; and providing networking opportunities for our members. Being mindful of our past successes should act as an impetus for achieving excellence in our future endeavors.

Next, we are already taking significant steps to raise CTCW’s profile in the State of Wisconsin. CTCW has retained Professional Services Marketing, Inc. (a marketing and public relations firm) to evaluate our organization, to help us implement a strategic plan to improve what we already do well, and to create new opportunities for the benefit of our members. In all of this, there is much work to be done. To that end, please encourage your colleagues and business associates to join CTCW if they are not already members. For current members, please consider taking a more active role in CTCW by writing an article for the Journal, by volunteering to serve on one of the organization’s committees, or by joining the Young Lawyer’s Section and actively participating in their endeavors. Also, I am sure Mike Gill (our new Program Chair) will gratefully accept presenters for the upcoming conferences scheduled for the next year. The bottom line is that this organization needs the robust effort and enthusiastic support of its members in order to thrive.

In closing, I want to thank Kevin Ferguson, our Editor-In-Chief of the “Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal”, for his excellent work in publishing the Journal these past two years. Ariella Schreiber, of Winner, Wixson & Pernitz in Madison, Wisconsin, will be our new Editor and I am sure that she will continue the strong tradition of producing our outstanding scholarly journal.