Wes Webendorfer, DeWitt LLP
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Wes Webendorfer, attorney, DeWitt LLP.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
When businesses seek my legal counsel, they are often in a murky regulatory situation where the path forward may appear uncertain. I enjoy working with businesses to understand their industry and find the best and most efficient route to a desirable outcome. I often find the most rewarding aspect of my work is finding a solution that was not originally anticipated by the client. For instance, a client may think the only or best option is litigation. It is rewarding when I can help navigate the client through an unexpected pathway to reach a positive outcome, such as creative negotiation or through public policy and regulatory channels.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
From afar, I have admired Rich Meeusen, the former CEO of Badger Meter Inc. Not only was he a successful CEO, but he took time to promote community initiatives, such as the Milwaukee Water Council and many others. Additionally, Rich was kind enough to meet with me when I was a law student exploring legal career options. Rich agreed to meet and introduced me to his company’s general counsel for an informational interview. For a very busy CEO of a public company, I will always remember that act of professional generosity.
Additionally, a more local businessperson I look up to is Paul Kent, a family friend and environmental attorney in Madison. I have always admired Paul’s practice because of its unique combination of environmental regulatory issues, public policy, and appellate litigation.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
It is difficult to point to one moment as the high point. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to practice law with a talented, thoughtful, and fun group of attorneys at DeWitt LLP. Learning from and being mentored by these colleagues has been a professional high point for me.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would have two pieces of advice. First, it is never too early to take ownership of a project, even if you are working as an unpaid intern. While it may feel like you are too inexperienced or young to be the expert on anything, start with a small project and show your supervisors your attentiveness and hard work. Larger projects and more responsibility will follow. Second, do not be timid about requesting informational interviews from businesspeople whose work you admire or who you would like to emulate someday. In general, most businesspeople and professionals will be flattered that you asked to meet and are happy to do so.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
Dane County is a great place to live and raise a family. It has a nice balance of urban and cultural amenities as well as accessible outdoor activities, including the UW Arboretum, the lakes linked by the Yahara River, and the Cherokee Marsh, to name just a few. It is also exciting to see new music venues in Madison that have been attracting major acts to the area. I would be remiss if I did not add that there is no better spot to enjoy a beverage or concert on a summer or fall evening than the Union Terrace.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I have played electric guitar since I was 10. During high school and college, I played in blues and rock bands, including gigs at venues in both Madison and Milwaukee. The most memorable gig that my band and I played was at my wedding, where we played our own unique arrangements of several Chuck Berry songs. Everyone, including my wife, Stephanie, loved it. At least that’s what they told me.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I am a big music fan and enjoy many different genres including rock, soul, country, blues, hip hop, and even opera. But much to my wife Stephanie’s chagrin, I am a sucker for honky-tonk. If it has Telecaster twang, pedal steel guitar, and is loud, I will probably like it. While Stephanie has indulged me by going to many of these shows over the past several years, these days I indulge mainly in the car — windows down, of course.
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