President's Message

WDC Journal Edition: Summer 2015
By: Kara M. Burgos, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

In my messages to you during my term as President, I have been addressing the all too familiar challenges facing our members:

  • Decline in the demand for legal services;
  • Increasingly fierce competition— lawyers driven to become ever more effective and efficient; and
  • Disappearing trial lawyers, as trials become a rarity rather than the rule.

As an organization, we strive to provide answers to and resources for these issues as well as trying to sustain our defense practitioners' overall viability and productivity in the legal community. I have had a year in the position as President of this organization and am honored and humbled to be part of the hardworking Board of Directors that strives to meet these goals. How can you help meet these goals? The answer is by supporting WDC and its efforts.

Looking forward, we should all be pleased with the direction that the organization is heading. WDC's past legislative efforts have been particularly noteworthy. Do members see this as a worthy benefit? As a Board, we need to feel secure in our goal to meet member needs. Share your thoughts on this issue.

We should also be proud of our Amicus Brief Committee. They are responsible for receiving, vetting, and making recommendations to the Executive Committee on which cases are noteworthy and appropriate for WDC to take a position on. As a part of its amicus program, WDC looks to make meaningful and original arguments that could result in a contribution to civil jurisprudence in our state. The success of this program can be seen in the increasing number of requests for WDC's participation. WDC, of course, cannot file briefs in every case from which it receives requests. As demonstrated by prior cases, however, our impact is undeniable.

I want to encourage all WDC members to take responsibility for growing the organization's membership. As a result of changes in the profession over the past five or six years, membership in many bar organizations has fallen. While WDC's numbers remain strong, economic pressures on our member firms will force many of them to take a hard look at organizations like ours. I strongly urge you to encourage your firms not to cut back support for WDC.

As recently reported in the Wisconsin Lawyer (November 2014), the number of traits that one federal judge associates with highly effective trial lawyers can be seen three-fold in WDC practitioners. Look at your fellow WDC members. They possess:

  1. Unsurpassed storytelling skills;
  2. Gritty determination to become great trial lawyers;
  3. Virtuoso cross-examination skills;
  4. Slavish preparation;
  5. Unfailing courtesy;
  6. Refined listening skills;
  7. Unsurpassed judgment; and
  8. Reasonableness.

These are traits that I would want to see in my counsel. These are the traits that I know I will get upon any referral from or to a WDC member. That is why I joined. That is what you can and should expect from your membership.

I turn the helm over to President-Elect Jeff Leavell at our Annual Meeting in Madison and know that WDC will continue to meet its members' expectations in the changing years ahead. I thank you for allowing me to serve as President over this last year—the benefits from such service have been enormous.

Kara M. Burgos, a New York native, holds a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Saint Bonaventure University and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Marquette University. She is a member of the Wisconsin State Bar and both districts of the federal system. Kara, a partner with Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd., joined the firm in 1995. She is a member of the La Crosse County Bar Association, serving as secretary 1997-1998, and is the current President of the Wisconsin Defense Counsel. She is the President of the Board of Directors for Bethany St. Joseph’s Corporation, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

In 2000, Kara was selected, by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to serve on the Special Preliminary Review Panel for the Office of Lawyer Regulation. This panel investigates ethical complaints against lawyers. Kara was the Panel’s Chairperson in 2007 until her term expired. She is current Chair of District 5 of the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Kara is Court Commissioner for La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez. Judge Gonzalez appointed her November, 2006. Previously, she was appointed Court Commissioner by Judge Dennis G. Montabon.

Kara works extensively with plaintiffs and defendants in many different areas including family, civil, and business law, as well as working with the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and elderly populations. She has authored several briefs to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and published several articles in scholarly journals. She was voted by her peers across the State as a “Rising Star” in a national publication in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011.