WATL changes name to WAJ

Wisconsin Law Journal: WATL changes name to WAJ

Jack Zemlicka

In what leaders described as an effort to revise its image and better define its purpose, the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers adopted a new organizational title, which was announced during its 50th anniversary conference in Milwaukee.

Members of the organization unanimously adopted its new name - Wisconsin Association for Justice (WAJ) - during the annual meeting at the Pfister hotel on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Immediate past-president Robert L. Jaskulski said the name modification was done to better convey the purpose of the organization, rather than the people in it.

"We spent some time in our annual meeting today addressing some issues such as the name of our organization to better define what it is we do," said Jaskulski. "The Wisconsin Association for Justice is a name that is much better suited to define what it is that we do, as opposed to who it is that we are. That's what we want to convey to the public."

In 2006, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America voted to change its name to the American Association for Justice, but Jaskulski said that change did not directly impact the choice by Wisconsin trial attorneys to adopt a new name.

"We examined it and took into consideration that the national organization went in the direction they did, but we definitely did our own analysis," said Jaskulski.

He added that the name change was not an indication that trial lawyers in the state are publicly distancing themselves from their profession.

"When the national association changed its name, many people claimed members were running from the fact that they were trial lawyers," said Jaskulski. "We anticipate some of the same talk here in Wisconsin, but that's just not true. Our members are proud to be members of the trial bar, but now we have a name to indicate what we provide to consumers in the state, which is justice."

Jaskulski outlined goals for WAJ in 2008. Communicating with the public on the role of civil trial attorneys, educating citizens about the justice system and increasing diversity in the organization are three objectives for WAJ.

Throughout the two-day conference, numerous past-presidents moderated interactive sessions in celebration of the organization's first 50 years.

"It's important to credit those who have gone before us and many of our past presidents are here tonight," said Jaskulski during an interview at the Nov. 30 reception. "The focus of our organization has always been on the protection of the rights of consumers in the stage of Wisconsin and that's been a lot of what we've done over the course of this last year."

Christine Bremer Muggli succeeded Jaskulski as president on Nov. 30.

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