President's Message: WDC Keeps Growing and Improving

WDC Journal Edition: Summer 2022
By: Christopher R. Bandt, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

As I publish my last message as President of WDC, I would like to thank all our members, sponsors, board of directors, executive committee members, and our outstanding executive director, Jenni Kilpatrick. It has been an honor to serve on the WDC board since 2014 and as President for the past year. As I transition to Past President, I am confident WDC’s leadership will remain strong. Nicole Marklein will take over as President at our Annual Meeting in August. Nicole will be an excellent leader of our organization and we have a hard working and dedicated executive committee and board of directors that will continue to focus on making WDC an important organization for those that focus their practice on defending individuals, businesses, and insurance companies in a wide range of legal matters.

In my first message, I asked, “Why WDC?” I hope during the past year our members found ways to understand why WDC matters to their practice and their clients. We have made great strides at WDC to find new ways to impact our existing members and offer opportunities for new members. Our Young Lawyers Committee, led by Nicole Radler, continues to grow, and I anticipate many opportunities for that committee to engage with our young lawyers and attract new young lawyers to our organization. By the time this journal is published, the Wisconsin Defense Counsel Young Lawyers Insurance Seminar, presented by Crystal M. Uebelher, will have taken place. This is just one of the many examples of opportunities within WDC for professional development.

I anticipate our Law School Committee, led by Grace Kukoski and Monte Weiss, will continue to work with the UW Law School and Marquette Law School to make WDC a recognizable organization for the next wave of new lawyers entering the practice of law. Our recently formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, led by Charles Polk III, provides a refreshing approach to make sure WDC is an organization open to all, and provides necessary discussion to make all of us better stewards of our practice. Our Employment Law Committee, led by Elizabeth Rowicki, is an important expansion to our committees and provides added resources and opportunities for membership growth. Our Amicus Committee, led by Brian Anderson, has been actively involved in various appellate matters that impact our members and their clients. I could go on and on about the many great things WDC is doing at the committee level, but I would rather leave it at this – join a committee! It is rewarding and you will not only improve your practice but will be an example to others within our organization.

Our Spring Conference was an enormous success with many interesting topics and outstanding speakers. Congratulations to all the committee award winners at our inaugural committee awards presentations. I anticipate Heather Nelson, our program chair, will have another fantastic lineup at our Annual Conference at the Wilderness Resort & Glacier Canyon Conference Center in the Wisconsin Dells on August 4-5, 2022. If you have not signed up, please do - check your inbox! The return to in-person conferences has been terrific and our conference attendance is back to normal pre-pandemic attendance figures.

From a fiscal side, WDC has effectively managed the various obstacles over the past two plus years and remains on sound fiscal footing. We have made strategic decisions with many of our sponsors and vendors which has benefitted all sides. We have solid membership numbers, but are always looking to increase membership, a topic that is expected to be addressed by the board in the next year.

From a technology side, the board of directors has gone forward with a plan to revamp our current website. It was only 4-5 years ago I was leading the charge on our current design, but technology has changed so much that our current website is basically obsolete. The new website will be ready to launch around the time of our Annual Conference this August.

WDC has also been actively participating in various legislative matters, and even collaborating with the plaintiff’s bar. We have been consulting with the Hamilton Consulting Group on various matters. While nothing was passed that impacted our membership, we will continue to be active in seeking to have our voices heard at the legislative level.

I am proud to have been a member of WDC for over 25 years and to have spent the past eight years on the board/executive level of WDC. We have great people who really care about the practice of law and who are professional in how they not only represent their clients, but their colleagues. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many great lawyers and people who I can now call friends. I look forward to maintaining an active involvement in WDC and thank you for allowing me to be your President.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Wilderness on August 4-5, 2022!

Author Biography:

Christopher R. Bandt is a partner in the Manitowoc office of Nash, Spindler, Grimstad & McCracken, LLP. He has been with the firm since 1996 and his practice focuses on all aspects of civil litigation with a concentration on insurance defense. He also provides mediation/ADR services. He has represented clients and tried cases throughout the State of Wisconsin and has argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He is admitted to practice in the State of Wisconsin and before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin. He has served on the faculty for the University of Wisconsin Law School Lawyering Skills course. He is the current President of WDC, chair of the Civil Jury Instruction Committee, and co-chair of the Awards Committee. He is also a member of the Defense Research Institute. He has previously presented before WDC, the State Bar and routinely provides presentations to clients and peer groups.