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 cochairs of existing committees and caucuses, I plan to work on several initiatives to continue moving our ideals forward.

As trial lawyers, we know the importance of speaking in language our audiences will understand. Historically, however, we have not done this when talking about ideas in partisan contexts. In working with the Republican caucus, I have learned that both our conservative and progressive members support the same fundamental concepts, but for different ideological reasons. To help our members better understand each other, and to better communicate on core issues with people who have different ideological beliefs, in December, we will be circulating a white paper addressing the difference in philosophies on those issues between liberals and conservatives and providing talking points on them.

I also will be working with several teams to look inward at WAJ to see how we can be more inclusive. The ad hoc diversity committee will be looking at barriers to diversity in WAJ and in law firms across the state. We will explore ways to increase diversity so both WAJ and the legal community better reflect the face of the state.

Another committee will be looking at ways to keep retired members involved in the ListServ so their years of accumulated knowledge can continue to be shared. This committee also will look at ways to make membership in WAJ possible for and enticing to lawyers who have very small PI practices and currently view membership as unaffordable. As one step in this direction, Bryan and Jim have been combing the ListServ archive to find forms that have already been shared by members. We will be reaching out over the next few months to ask every member to contribute one form to this bank. If each of us is willing to contribute one form, we will have a collection of over 600 forms. I hope this form bank, in addition to the ListServ and other benefits of WAJ membership will provide a good incentive for new lawyers and people who have smaller PI practices to view WAJ membership as a good value and an essential budget item.

In addition, I have reached out to WAJ members who are members of organizations with similar goals asking them to act as liaisons who will notify those groups of opportunities to collaborate with WAJ and vice versa. There is strength and energy in numbers; if we work together with others, our dreams for equality and justice will be realized much more quickly.

I want to thank all of you for your willingness to join me as we work on these efforts and on the ultimate goal of making Wisconsin a place where everyone is assured justice. I would particularly like to thank my partners and colleagues at Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs for their support and encouragement, and my husband, Dana Wachs, for his steadfast love. Working together, thinking outside the box and persevering in the face of bias and intransigence, we will ensure justice prevails!

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