Paralegal of the Year Award
The Paralegal of the Year Award is presented to a paralegal that has consistently demonstrated knowledge of the law, perseverance in their cases and to their attorneys’ clients, superior paralegal skills and whose commitment and overall attitude is an inspiration to other paralegals. Paralegals perform crucial work in helping their law firms get justice on their clients’ behalf. We hope that this award will help to bring well deserved attention to the crucial role that paralegals play in our civil justice system.
Nomination Deadline: Nominations are accepted through September 30th each year.
Award Requirements: Paralegal needs to be a WAJ member for 1 year.
Nominations Should Include the Following:
- Nominator contact information; nominee's current bio; contact information for nominee's current employer; a letter that describes how the nominee consistently demonstrates knowledge of the law, perseverance in their cases and to their attorneys’ clients, superior paralegal skills and whose commitment and overall attitude is an inspiration to other paralegals.
Types of Nominations Accepted: Self-nomination, attorney nominations and/or peer nomination.
Judging Committee: Chairs of the Paralegal / Legal Assistant Section, three additional member paralegals and WAJ's Executive Director will judge the nominations.
Award Presentation Time and Location: Award will be presented as part of WAJ's Winter Seminar & Annual Meeting. Normally at 8:30 am at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Award will be presented by WAJ's Paralegal Co-chairs and the attorney of the winning paralegal.
Awarded: The Award recipient receives an engraved keepsake, free registration to the Winter Seminar to accept the award, and a Banquet ticket forgu est(s).
Number of Awards Each Year: WAJ will award one Paralegal award each year.
Award Submission and Questions:
- Contact Bryan Roessler of WAJ at 608-210-3390
- Submit nominations to Bryan Roessler at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 14 West Mifflin Street, Suite 207, Madison, WI 53703
Past Award Recipients:
2020 Paralegal of the Year Award Honoree
Roxanne E.Sears Kunda, Paralegal
Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP
Roxanne Kunda was born and raised in Kimberly, Wisconsin. In 1981 Roxanne moved to Milwaukee to attend the University of Wisconsin and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Therapy in 1985. She utilized her degree to become the Director of Recreation at a nursing home. While there, she was inspired to attend paralegal school and obtained her paralegal certificate from the American Institute for Paralegal Studies in 1991.
Roxanne has worked as a worker’s compensation and personal injury paralegal for the defense and plaintiff. Roxanne was a member of the Milwaukee Insurance Adjusters Association from 1992 to 1999 and was its Treasurer from 1998 to 1999. In 2002, Roxanne was offered a position to develop a paralegal program while working for in house counsel for Zurich in Brookfield in its worker’s compensation and personal injury areas. She was a member of the Paralegal Association of Wisconsin from 1999 to 2003 and was the co-director for the Milwaukee Chapter from 2000 to 2001 and its Web Administrator from 2002 to 2003. In 2010, Roxanne switched to plaintiffs’ work and in April of 2011 started working with Mark Thomsen, then a partner at Cannon & Dunphy, S.C. She continued working with Mark Thomsen in August of 2017 and has been a lead paralegal, dedicated as always to her clients, and a key source of information and support to her peers at Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP.
Roxanne is happily married to Cary Kunda, who is very understanding with her working long hours and he keeps her grounded and sane. She remains very involved with her church and serves on its Finance Committee and as its Secretary. In her spare time, Roxanne enjoys watching movies, reading, playing games and crocheting, including crochet prayer shawls for her church. Cary and Roxanne like to travel together. Roxanne is a member of the Zoological Society and she and Cary particularly enjoy visiting different zoos on their travels. Her favorite has been in San Diego. Since the pandemic, Cary and Roxanne do day and weekend getaways when they can between trips.
2019 Paralegal of the Year Award Honoree
Judy Felker, Paralegal
Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice, S.C.
Judy was born and raised in Waterford Wisconsin. She has a BA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Judy has worked as a paralegal exclusively on behalf of plaintiffs since 1987. There have been years when she had also served as an office manager. She has worked at four law firms and currently is working at the Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula and Dentice law firm.
Throughout these years, Judy has demonstrated superior and extensive experience and knowledge of various aspects of personal injury law. As a paralegal she has worked on various claims and cases in suit, including medical malpractice, products liability, mass torts, nursing home abuse and general liability matters (including auto and truck accidents).
Throughout her career she has served as a paralegal in complex litigation cases involving multiple defendants and various unique claims. There have been instances when Judy has provided assistance throughout complex trials that have lasted several weeks.
One of Judy’s greatest strengths is her ability to relate to clients. She has spent considerable time conversing with the clients and counseling them when appropriate. She has also taught and assisted other paralegals with whom she has worked.
Simply put – she is the best of the best.
Judy is a devoted wife to her husband, Terry, who works in sales and marketing. She has two daughters, Alyssa and Laura, who are both college graduates and who now employed in their desired careers.
2018 Corinne R. Dulak, Domnitz & Domnitz, S.C.
In her 18 years with Domnitz & Domnitz and its predecessor firms Corinne has performed every component task one traditionally associates with paralegal work. She is highly capable in everything from intake to drafting to pulling together the components of a claim to trial preparation and litigation support.
But describing Corinne’s outstanding work in all the aforementioned areas barely scratches the surface of the role she plays in our firm. From the first day we founded this new firm in 2004 Corinne has been the glue that held the firm together. She has doubled as office administrator and tripled as office manager. There is not a single aspect of our firm’s practice in which Corinne is not involved, and her work in every area is beyond outstanding.
But, again, even that description does not tell the full story of what she has meant to the firm. Corinne possesses professional and personal traits that transcend traditional paralegal descriptions; she has a unique ability to think along with, and sometimes in advance of, the lawyers with whom she works. It is a regular occurrence that Corinne is a step ahead of a lawyer, anticipating the next logical step in the litigation process with nearly unerring accuracy. That ability is born of the core of Corinne’s work: the very real care and concern she has for our clients. Corinne has personal contact with all our clients, knows their situation, knows how the system can help them through the toughest of times, and knows how to manage what we can do for clients on an instinctive basis. Her empathetic approach to clients’ cases yields a combination of professional excellence and personal concern that is a true reflection of Corinne as a person with a sharp mind, an innate sense of right and wrong, and, perhaps above all else, a big heart. We simply could not exist as a firm without Corinne.
As if all that were not enough, Corinne has been deeply involved with WAJ, not only serving as program coordinator for many paralegal seminars, but also pulling together dozens of seminars for attorneys including the annual winter seminar for over a decade.
Beyond her amazing work at Domnitz & Domnitz, S.C. Corinne is a devoted wife (Darryl) and a loving mother to her two sons (Connor and Carson).
2017 - Elaine Jensen, Axley Brynelson LLP, Madison
Elaine Jensen is a Senior Paralegal at Axley with 30 years of paralegal experience. Her career has been focused in litigation and personal injury law in both defense and plaintiffs’ work. Elaine has worked with Attorney Michael Riley since May 2001.
Elaine has considerable client contact assisting them through the entire personal injury claim process. She is a resource for clients for any questions or concerns they may be having whether it be with the claim process as a whole, medical expenses, medical treatment or simply just a shoulder to lean on. Elaine also works one-on-one with each client assisting them through the written discovery process.
Additionally, Elaine assists the attorneys with accident investigation, establishing special damages and gathering medical evidence.
Elaine has taught several seminars for legal assistants and paralegals through the Institute of Paralegal Education, Lorman Education and other organizations, and has written articles for paralegals through Wisconsin Association for Justice. She also routinely mentors paralegal interns from various local programs, to pass her knowledge and experience on to the next generation of paralegals.
In addition to her paralegal duties, she enjoys organizing office celebrations such as the annual Axley Badger Tailgate party as well as fundraisers for various organizations, including American Family Children’s Hospital; National MS Society; Goodman Center Thanksgiving Baskets, and Toys for Tots.
In her free time, Elaine enjoys spending time with her family and two black labs, Nexie and Maverick, as well as hanging out around a bon fire with friends and family.
2016 - Laurel A. Wirth, Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd, Appleton
Laurel has been a member of the Wisconsin Association for Justice-Paralegal section since its inception. She has been a program coordinator for WAJ seminars and has spoken at WAJ seminars as recently as last year.
Laurel has been involved in a number of activities outside of work. She was a past Winnebago County 4-H General Leader; past paralegal of Wisconsin member. She is currently the Director of two boards at her church, Trinity Lutheran Church & School-Menasha. She also volunteers at the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxillary at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Laurel has been married to her husband, Tim for 36 years. She has two children, Nathaniel and his wife Ashley and Amanda and her husband, Jasen. She is a happy Nana to Riley and another grandson is expected in January.