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 17th 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, a Banquet ticket for a guest, and a special gift.  

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 or by mail at 14 West Mifflin Street, Suite 207, Madison, WI 53703

Past Award Recipients:


​​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.



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