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Persuade: A Verb.

Beverly Wickstrom, WAJ President and 
a partner with Gingras Thomsen & Wachs, LLP

I love Websters’ stately definition: “To move by argument, entreaty or expostulation, to a belief, position, or course of action.”

I would define it more simply: what we, as trial lawyers, do for a living.

Trial lawyers spend a lifetime honing our ability to persuade. We use this skill to help people who have been injured get the medical care they need, recover lost wages and become financially whole. We use the skill to help people who have been wronged find justice. We use persuasion to help level the playing field between people who have been injured and the large corporations and insurance companies which try to deny them justice. Our ability to persuade is what makes the justice system work.

In 2020, an election year, our ability to persuade faces another challenge: convincing voters and people who seek office that our justice system, where everyone has the right to a fair trial by a jury of peers, must be preserved, and that every person or company who injures someone must be held responsible for those injuries. To make this happen, each of us must be willing to talk with friends, relatives, colleagues and people seeking office about  why we do what we do, and the importance of preserving a legal system that will allow us to achieve justice for those who need it.

We must tell the stories of people we have helped who otherwise would have been destitute because someone hurt them. We must talk about the people who have died unnecessarily and the horrors we have helped their families work through. We must let people know what will happen if the civil justice system does not survive the aftermath of the election.

The stakes are high. In Wisconsin, the Collateral Source Rule remains under attack. New immunity laws are being proposed. Every patient’s right to the information needed to give informed consent to medical treatment is being eroded. And it is only a matter of time before the laws being proposed in other states to limit contingency fees and otherwise limit the rights of injured people make their way here. So please speak up. Help voters and politicians understand the issues and the stakes for the people of this state. By using our collective ability to persuade, we will be able to reinvigorate a legal system that truly provides justice for all.



Incoming President's Message

Beverly Wickstrom, WAJ President and 
a partner with Gingras Thomsen & Wachs, LLP

My parents taught me to believe in fairness, equality and justice. They taught me the importance of working to make these values a reality for everyone. I try to live out those principles now both at work and in my personal life.

At WAJ, I am surrounded by people who share the same values and dedicate their lives to make them a reality for everyone, one client at a time. I am honored to be in your company and to have been selected as your next president.

Over the next year, in addition to continuing to develop and nurture the positive programs started by my predecessors, and supporting the hardworking chairs and co-chairs of existing committees and caucuses, I plan to work on several initiatives to continue moving our ideals forward. Keep Reading

A Tribute to Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Edward E. Robinson is the WAJ President and
a partner at Cannon & Dunphy, S.C.

Trailblazer. Driven. Tireless. Fair and impartial. Brilliant legal scholar. These are just a few of the many terms that describe Shirley Abrahamson.

In July of this year, Shirley Abrahamson stepped down from the Wisconsin Supreme Court after completing her fourth 10-year term. In her 43 years on the state’s highest court, almost half of them as our Chief Justice, she has left behind an unparalleled legacy, wherein she authored more than 535 majority opinions, 491 dissenting opinions, and 325 concurring opinions.1 These figures  do not include the tens of thousands of petitions for review, bypasses, certifications and lawyer and judicial disciplinary cases to have come before the Court during her tenure.  She has certainly earned her retirement.  Keep Reading

Moving Forward By Giving Back

Edward E. Robinson is the WAJ President and
a partner at Cannon & Dunphy, S.C.

As I sit down to write this column, it is hard to believe that my tenure as President of this tremendous organization is half over.  Actually, talking in more positive terms, it is only half begun.  Time does not stand still, and there is still much I want to do before I pass the baton.

In my incoming President’s message, I spoke about the decades’ long attack on the public image of trial lawyers, and what we can do to fight back and attempt to turn back this tide of negative public opinion.  If we wish our profession to be viewed as a noble one, we must all strive to demonstrate to the public through our actions—both inside and outside of the courtroom—that we are persons of high character with compassion for others.  One way we can show this is by volunteering our time and talents toward making a positive difference in our communities.  By leading through example in helping to improve our communities, perhaps we, as trial lawyers, can reverse course and improve public perception.   But even if our good deeds go unrecognized, it is still the right thing for us to do, and that is reason enough for each of us to find ways to improve our communities, even in small ways.   Keep Reading


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