President’s Message: Why WDC?

WDC Journal Edition: Winter 2021
By: Christopher R. Bandt, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

Why WDC? It is a simple question, but the answer is complex. As I embark on my term as President of WDC, one of my primary tasks will be to provide our membership the answer to why they are a member of WDC and why we need to attract new members to WDC. Before I continue, I would like to thank Andrew Hebl, for being a tremendous asset to our organization during his term as President. We have been in these unprecedented times much longer than any of us had hoped and we continue to navigate our way through the many changes and challenges that have taken place. Andrew has been a great leader to this organization and will continue as a viable resource to WDC as not only the Past President but as the new DRI representative for the State of Wisconsin. Thank you Andrew!

It was truly great to see so many colleagues and sponsors attend our Summer WDC Conference and Annual Meeting. We had gone over 18 months without an in-person conference and being able to interact with so many of you was fantastic! We had great presenters and I was so happy to see so many of our loyal sponsors back and interacting with our membership. 

Getting back to the “Why WDC?” This concept became important to me during our Board of Directors strategic planning session this past spring. We had Mike Weston (DRI) as our mentor/guide for our strategic planning session and he kept circling back to the “Why?” My conclusion was we need to provide our members with content and opportunities to make them better lawyers. Similarly, make them proud to be a member of WDC and focus on the esteemed nature of our organization—we are the best of the best when it comes to defending our clients in civil matters!

We have taken a number of steps already to provide the answers to “Why WDC?” Our law school committee is actively working with the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University to present at the law schools. We are providing law students with free admission to the Winter Conference and free membership to WDC. Our Young Lawyer Committee is growing and is a great complement to our law school initiative to attract more young members to WDC. The Board of Directors is also continuing to work on fostering a mentoring program for our young members.

We have expanded our committees over the last several years to include Cyber Law and Technology, Employment, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, as well as an ad hoc In-House Counsel Committee. Those are in addition to the tremendous work being done by our Women in the Law, Litigation Skills, Insurance Law, and Amicus Curiae Committees. Please see the complete list of committees and committee chairs at http://www.wdc-online.org/about-wdc/committees. One of the best ways to be involved in WDC is to join a committee and see for yourself how much WDC has to offer!

To further enhance the value of joining a committee, the Board of Directors has formed an Awards Committee. Starting in 2022, in addition to our annual awards which will now include a Young Lawyer of the Year award, committee awards will be presented at the Spring and Winter Conferences.

The focus of our organization will continue to be creating meaningful content and opportunities for our members to continue to be the best lawyers in the State of Wisconsin. One aspect of the pandemic that has created new opportunities for our membership are the webinars being put on by our sponsors. They have stuck with us during our 18 months of virtual conferences, and we have acknowledged their loyalty by having them provide free webinars at various times throughout the year. Please continue to check the email blasts on new and upcoming sponsor seminars!

Another great asset to our organization is our WDC Journal which is published three times a year to coincide with our conferences. Our Journal Editor, Vince Scipior, does a tremendous job getting meaningful articles collected and published for our membership. Please reach out to Vince with any articles, trials/verdicts, settlements, and significant motion hearings that will continue to make the Journal a valuable resource for our membership. 

Our Winter Conference is shaping up to be another fantastic program, with Heather Nelson as our program chair. Litigation skills training will continue to be at the forefront of programming, as will the ever popular ethics credits to close out the year. I hope to see many of our members for another in-person conference on December 3, 2021!

I look forward to a great year as WDC President and feel free to contact me with ways to further answer, “Why WDC?”

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 and also is the 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.