President’s Message: New and Exciting Initiatives

WDC Journal Edition: Summer 2021
By: Andrew B. Hebl, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

As I write this, my last message for the Journal as WDC President, I am filled with a sense of optimism for our organization. We have managed to come through this historically challenging year with membership engagement at an all-time high by following through with our strategic plan to revitalize our committee structure and to develop new initiatives to generate sustainable membership growth. You are now going to start seeing these initiatives pay dividends.

As I write this, my last message for the Journal as WDC President, I am filled with a sense of optimism for our organization. We have managed to come through this historically challenging year with membership engagement at an all-time high by following through with our strategic plan to revitalize our committee structure and to develop new initiatives to generate sustainable membership growth. You are now going to start seeing these initiatives pay dividends.

 

As we head into the fall and winter conferences, expect to start seeing law students from UW and Marquette in attendance. Our newly-formed law school committee, chaired by Grace Kulkoski and Monte Weiss, has already had outreach to both law schools, and we have received very enthusiastic feedback from them to coordinate our increased engagement with prospective attorneys. In addition, our Past President Ariella Schreiber has committed to reaching out to the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar, and so we expect to see growth in our ranks from newly-admitted attorneys who might not otherwise have considered a defense practice.

 

We have also received a very enthusiastic response to the rollout of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative, both from within the organization and through law school outreach. We remain committed to fostering an organization that is open and inclusive to all prospective members across the cultural spectrum of our society. Only in doing so can we ensure that a civil litigation defense practice remains viewed as not just a viable, but highly valuable, career option for all, and one WDC is uniquely positioned to support.

 

At our upcoming annual conference in the Wisconsin Dells—which I am pleased to say will be in-person for the first time since the WDC Winter Conference of 2019—our Membership Committee Chair Sandy Hupfer and our Employment Law Committee Chair Liz Rowicki, both from Secura, have worked with our Program Chair Monte Weiss to put together a brilliant program that offers an employment law focus for the first time. With the growth of employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) over the past several years, more and more employment lawyers find themselves doing what is effectively insurance defense work. Likewise, more and more insurance defense lawyers find themselves practicing employment law alongside their conventional practice. We view this as an opportunity to attract new members and to provide resources to our existing members as the nature of defense practice grows and evolves.

 

As we try to broaden our reach across different types of practices, we are also cognizant of your desire for programming that focuses on litigation skills training. We understand that you consider this to be the most valuable training that our programming can provide for both newer and experienced attorneys. At this year’s Winter Conference, expect to see programming that will heavily focus on litigation skills in order to satisfy that demand, while also getting you the end-of-year ethics credits that you count on from us.

 

As I wrap up my time as President, I want to express my gratitude to the Board of Directors for their high level of engagement. Our Board is committed and energized about WDC and ensuring that it grows and flourishes as an organization. I am looking forward to welcoming our incoming President, Chris Bandt, into his role. You will be in great hands. I also want to thank our committee chairs for their great work, and our journal editor, Vincent Scipior, who has done a brilliant job with the Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal. Most importantly, however, I want to thank you, our members, for sticking with WDC so well through a very unique and challenging year.

 

Author Biography:

 

Andrew Hebl is a partner in Boardman & Clark’s Litigation Practice Group. He also chairs the firm’s Technology Committee. Andrew’s trial and appellate practice focuses on the representation of insurance companies and their insureds. The cases primarily involve personal injury, property damage, and professional malpractice. Andrew also frequently represents insurance companies in insurance coverage disputes and extra-contractual litigation (bad faith). Finally, Andrew regularly defends municipalities in a wide variety of matters, including major civil rights lawsuits. Andrew is admitted to practice before all Wisconsin state and federal trial and appellate courts and listed in the Best Lawyers in America. He is rated AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell.