President’s Message: Guiding the Wisconsin Defense Counsel into the Future

WDC Journal Edition: Winter 2019
By: Christine M. Rice, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

Greetings to all and thank you for taking the time to read the Winter 2019 issue of the Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal. Thank you to those who contributed, and thank you to our editor, whose time and dedication is evident in each publication of outstanding and relevant content to our membership and profession.

I am so honored to take on my new role as the recently elected President of the Wisconsin Defense Counsel. As I mentioned at the Annual Business Meeting, I have some big shoes to fill, and I am grateful for the guidance and encouragement of those that came before me in leading this very important organization. My term falls within a strategic planning year, and I do not take that lightly. We have much to consider in the long-range planning, including not only the financial stability and membership growth of the organization, but also how we can and want to grow together as an association while fulfilling its mission and developing leadership to guide the organization into the future. My hope is for a plan that is forward-thinking, one that allows the organization to adapt to our developing and changing defense practices, and necessarily calls for us to be more collaborative and united. I cannot imagine that any of our clients would say that there is no value from the resource that our collective membership brings. It benefits our clients to share our strategies and successes. It benefits our clients when we learn from our losses. Sometimes our review of cases and statutory law in a legal database or treatise can only go so far; decisions on legal issues rendered throughout the state to our members, and how the issues were briefed and argued, can be just as or more valuable in forming and articulating a position and recommendation for our clients. When I had my first argument before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the support and coaching I received from colleagues in this organization was critical to my preparation, success, and reflection on the experience. I could not thank these fellow members (and friends) enough for giving up their time, which is not always easy with the billable hour, to allow me to learn and grow through those discussions. The mentorship opportunities and collective experience of our members is invaluable and are the heart of the organization.

Finally, my hope is to heavily plan for the professional and personal fulfillment of our members. As an officer on the executive committee, I have had the pleasure of attending leadership conferences with other officers of State and Local Defense Organizations (SLDO) throughout the country. One important theme of the last conference was that an organization is only as vibrant as its members who want to be members because they see both professional and personal value in the association. The Women in the Law Committees of these organizations (ours included) are growing by leaps and bounds and are accomplishing impressive professional and service-oriented endeavors. The enthusiasm and passion of these committees is something to learn from as a larger organization. Of course, the members join because of the professional networking, education, and client opportunities. However, what also drives these committees is the comradery, the support, the appreciation, the common experiences, respect, and the sharing of personal goals. My hope is that our strategic planning will not only focus on how our members can continue to benefit professionally by being part of the organization, but also on how the organization can generate personal satisfaction of our members, which will hopefully lead to greater participation and excitement about our Wisconsin Defense Counsel.

I hope to see you at the Winter Conference, which will take place on Friday, December 6, 2019 at the Milwaukee Marriott West in Waukesha. Please feel free to approach me and share your thoughts about the organization. I would be very appreciative if I could bring back your ideas or concerns as we look toward the future together.

Author Biography:

Attorney Christine Rice is a Shareholder and the President of Simpson & Deardorff, S.C. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Carroll College, and after practicing for several years as a registered nurse, she returned to law school and graduated magna cum laude from Marquette University. Ms. Rice practices in all areas of insurance defense, specializing in insurance coverage. Ms. Rice has been recognized by her peers as a Wisconsin “Super Lawyer,” and was one of Wisconsin Law Journal’s “Leaders in the Law” in 2019. Ms. Rice also serves on the Board of Directors at her alma mater, Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.