You’re called the “Weed Commish.” What the heck is that all about?
Douglas H. Frazer, DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C.
"I intend, to elevate the office and, in my weed commissioner uniform, to look dashing in the process."
It’s not because of cannabis sativa – medical or otherwise. It’s because in addition to serving on the Fox Point Village Board, I serve as the village weed commissioner. True, it’s an obscure post. I intend, however, to elevate the office and, in my weed commissioner uniform, to look dashing in the process.
Under Wisconsin law, a municipal head may appoint a weed commissioner, who shall investigate the existence of noxious weeds in his or her district. The weed commissioner may enter upon private property “and cut or otherwise destroy noxious weeds without being liable to an action for trespass or any other action for damages resulting from the entry and destruction if reasonable care is exercised.” How about that for extraordinary powers?
Our goal is to eliminate statutory noxious weeds “with prejudice.” These include cirsium arvense (Canada thistle), convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed, also known as creeping Jenny), and euphorbia esula (leafy spurge). Wisconsin Statutes define two species as “nuisance” weeds: lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife or hybrids thereof) and rosa multiflora (multiflora rose). Some municipalities enact ordinances that extend the list of “banned” weeds to include certain invasive or allergen-producing species such as ragweed, garlic mustard, buckthorn, and bush honeysuckle.
In Fox Point, we prioritize education over enforcement. On the agenda: the Ms. Invasive Species Beauty Pageant. The winner will get a floral tiara, sash, and the opportunity to ride in the back of a convertible in the Fourth of July parade.
How did you end up becoming a lawyer and then finding your way into the insurance world?
Thomas J. Watson, Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co.
"Lawyers have the most interesting stories."
Me, an insurance guy? Who’d have thought?
I was (and still am) a news junkie. Growing up in Milwaukee, I read newspapers constantly. I learned math reading the box scores and statistics in the sports section.
So I spent 14 years in radio news. What a ride, interviewing mayors, governors, presidential candidates, police chiefs, entertainers and celebrities (Red Skelton was a riot! Kim Alexis, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model was kind of boring, but hey, it was still a fun interview!), athletes, and even a few criminals, including a convicted murderer.
After covering a lot of high-profile court trials, it became clear to me that being a lawyer was just as interesting a job as being a journalist. So, after a stint working at the State Bar of Wisconsin, it was off to law school. And after a few years of practice, I landed at WILMIC, where I’m now senior vice president.
I’m lucky. It’s a great job. I still get to spend my time with lawyers all over Wisconsin. Lawyers have the most interesting stories, and let’s face it, as an old journalist, I love a good story.
Some of you know me as the guy who moderates panel discussions, gives CLE presentations at local bar meetings, or hands out malpractice insurance advice (and lots of candy) at the WILMIC booth at legal conferences.
Yeah, I do all those things. I’ve also done a few television commercials and emceed a few events. I was even a ball boy for the Milwaukee Bucks when I was 14 (in 1973). Now that gave me plenty of stories to tell – TMZ would love a few of them.
Insurance guy? Didn’t see that one coming.
Describe your most relaxing (or favorite) vacation.
My most relaxing vacation is going to St. Martin (French side). The food is wonderful, and the biggest decision of the day is whether to lie on the beach or sit in the ocean-side cafe and look out at the water. Since it is a French territory, taking my iPhone with a data plan requires preplanning. I feel justified in not changing the data plan and just putting an auto-reply message on my email saying that I will not have email access during my vacation. That means that I really unplug and relax. Oh, and the snorkeling is not bad either.
What is the single most important technology used in law offices today?
Nerino J. Petro Jr., State Bar of Wisconsin Law Practice411™
"High-speed Internet access opens a whole new world of online resources for them and their staff."
Just a few years ago I would have said practice management software. Today it’s high-speed Internet access, which I believe is the one technology that is crucial to every law office. Why? The Internet is no longer just about surfing the Web. For modern lawyers, high-speed Internet access opens a whole new world of online resources for them and their staff.
Think of high-speed Internet as your road to indispensable tools that every lawyer and law firm needs. Access legal research (including Fastcase access through wisbar.org); get practice management tools to organize and improve your practice such as Clio, MyCase, and RocketMatter; track your time and bill for it using tools such as Time59 or Bill4Time. You can even get your QuickBooks online. High-speed Internet access does all this and does it fast, allowing you to get more done.
What has been your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Mark R. Hinkston, Knuteson, Hinkston & Quinn S.C
"We should set our own bar and then not announce its height."
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” When I first read that, I wondered what does that mean: “to be yourself”? Are not each of us “ourselves” already?
I think he means, within reason and social and moral strictures, do and think as we want. With that sentiment as background, I choose not to share my greatest accomplishment to date, not because I am embarrassed or because I am fearful of criticism or one-up-manship but because I do not have an accomplishment that I have labeled the “greatest.”
Watching my father over the last several months of his life struggle to do small things such as put a spoon to his mouth or smile (and then rejoice when he did so) really has readjusted my perception on accomplishment. We should set our own bar and then not announce its height.
All I can do each day is “accomplish,” move forward and do positive, good things. I will leave it to others to decide which of those things deserves an adjective. If none is forthcoming, I will still have personal contentment in being “myself.”