A Historical Perspective
In 2000, it was time to honor one of our own. As trial lawyers, we have always placed our clients first but it was time to recognize that special person. The one who stands out among the others. An award that honors the recipient, but also draws attention to the mission of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, its more than 800 members, and the work we do every day.
In early 2000, two former WAJ Presidents, Kevin Lonergan and John Peterson, worked together to create an award which would give the Executive Committee the flexibility to honor deserving recipients who define our profession. It could be a breakthrough verdict or appellate victory, someone whose work advanced the goals of the civil justice system, or a member whose volunteer work honored our profession. Both of us have known members who have given tirelessly and willingly to others and we felt strongly that it was time to give them special recognition.
It’s also worth noting that at the same time we were creating the award that now carries his name, Bob Habush was actively involved in launching the Wisconsin Civil Justice Education Foundation, an institution which has been essential to the advancement of WAJ’s mission of a fair justice system. Bob generously offered to match up to $250,000 in contributions made by members to create the foundation. Bob was a two-time President of WAJ, a former ATLA President, the former chair of the Legislative Task Force Committee, and author of countless victories. The thought occurred to us that perhaps we should name the new Trial Lawyer of the Year after a member who has given freely of his intellect, his time, and often, his own money, in support of the Wisconsin Association for Justice. Bob’s career has been devoted to the very principals that the award was designed to recognize, so the decision to name it after him was an easy one.
In 2000, the Trial Lawyer of the Year award was only an idea. We are thankful for the accomplishments of each of the prior recipients, but we are also proud of the accomplishments of our Association and each of its members. This year, one lawyer will take the award home, but it is a benchmark of the good work we all do.
By honoring one we inspire the many.
John C. Peterson
Peterson Berk & Cross S.C.
1995 WAJ President
Herrling Clark Law Firm
2000 WAJ President