SUCCESS IS AN ELUSIVE CONCEPT.
Not easy to define in general terms but, apply it to Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and we’re on firmer ground.
That said, what does success look like for Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual? It’s a fair question and a good one as we recap 2019 and look ahead to what’s next. For me, there are a handful of terms and ideas that help define what makes Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual successful: faith, trust, loyalty and a respected role in the profession.
These have, over more than 33 years, helped the company build successfully on our mission—to provide a reliable source of malpractice liability insurance to Wisconsin lawyers, plus exceptional service and practical risk-management tools for Wisconsin lawyers, policyholders or not. That’s where Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual started and that’s how we continue today.
Taking that Gamble
Faith was essential to our mission from the start. In 1986, many lawyers showed their faith in the creation of a professional liability insurance company founded for and by Wisconsin lawyers. First, they bought bonds to help fund the enterprise when there was no promise of repayment—any time soon or maybe ever! Thankfully, it was a gamble our bondholders chose to take.
They also bought into having coverage from the new, untested company. Invest your hard-won earnings then take a chance that lawyers with a good idea will back you up in your practice. That certainly took faith.
The belief lawyers in solo and small firms have in this venture makes me proud to be part of it. Because the feeling is mutual. Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual has faith in the lawyers we cover. That, to me, does spell success.
More than Insurance
Coverage where there was none paid off for bondholders and every lawyer we’ve insured since. But from early on, the trust policyholders had in Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual was strong. Our founding mission includes the phase “reliable source” and we take that to mean more than just an insurance company.
Policyholders count on our expertise in risk management and claims prevention to help them protect their reputations and their livelihood. Wisconsin lawyers as a group routinely turn to Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual for information and seminars that help them practice wisely and well.
When we succeed in doing so, it’s proof of a trust as valuable to us as I hope it is to them.
If return business is a sign of success, Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual is doing OK. More than OK, in fact. Our retention rate is 90 percent, remarkable in this industry. It’s a show of loyalty that tells me the lawyers who insure with us know to plan for the unexpected. They take their professional responsibility seriously. And subscribe whole-heartedly to finishing what they start.
One reason our policyholders are loyal is because we help them do that. Rather than risk a claim, they call to talk with one our claims attorneys about a sticky situation before it becomes a claim. They count on the good advisors at Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual to help them think things through. And not to increase their premium just because of that call.
Almost every member of the Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Board of Directors and many of the staff are lawyers. We are all people who know insurance and understand the practice of law.
It helps us be smart about what Wisconsin lawyers need to do well and avoid claims. Being a liability insurer and a real practice resource for solo and small firms gives Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual a unique standing. People know us and respect our involvement.
We regularly get asked to present programs on risk management at state and local Bar events. Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual professionals participate on panels and committees discussing issues that affect the practice of law in Wisconsin. And there are many.
Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual is welcomed every year by the state’s law schools where we get to connect with soon-to-be lawyers on what to expect when they put what they’ve learned into practice.
We’re grateful for the close-up view this involvement gives Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual of what today’s tech-driven practice environment looks like and how the next generation of lawyers sees their future.
It’s how we recognize where change can change malpractice risk.
It’s been true since the beginning: the more Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual understands, the more successful we are at helping lawyers achieve the best outcomes.
Uncertainty and Success
Uncertainty has been part of the Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual story from the start. Will this idea work,
for starters. Now we know it does, there are new uncertainties and challenges that keep us on our toes and working to stay relevant and part of the solution.
Increasingly, there are fewer lawyers practicing
in Wisconsin. Those who do, practice in a world that demands speed and instant connectivity. Clients demand that of lawyers and lawyers demand that of their insurer. Technology, for all its ability to streamline work, adds unavoidable pressure to everyone’s complicated lives.
Success prepares Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual to meet these and other challenges. Because part of what makes it so interesting to be part of an insurance company run by and for Wisconsin lawyers is, we never stop learning. Knowing there’s more to know, answers to find, smart people to ask or recruit is one way I define our success.
People Play Big Part
I’ve said it before, good things are hard and sometimes that’s this job, which I love. Some challenges you see coming, others catch you off guard. But working among kindred spirits who share my excitement about what’s around the next corner is rewarding.
The people I work with, the directors who sit on our amazing Board, our dedicated staff and the policyholders who demonstrate daily how much they value their connection with this insurance company have everything to do with making it succeed. There’s serious strength in such success.
One Year to the Next
Twenty nineteen gave everyone involved a chance to think about what success looks like for Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual. That mirror reflects on all of them and me, too, I guess. But the chance to keep stepping up to figure out what’s coming next, how we manage it or use it to the advantage of policyholders—that’s what it looks like for 2020. We are ready!
WILMIC President & CEO