There has been plenty of change, upheaval and progress since the formation of WILMIC in 1986 when Wisconsin lawyers were being priced out of obtaining malpractice insurance. In the 1990’s, technology innovations were starting to change the legal profession and WILMIC began paying back its bonds to policyholders. In the 2000’s, an explosion in access to information had a profound effect on client expectations and WILMIC saw tremendous growth. In the last ten years, we have seen incredible technological change, online business and finally, the coronavirus pandemic.
Through all of that upheaval, WILMIC continues to show the stability and dependability policyholders have come to expect.
The mid-1990s brought the beginning of innovation. The internet exploded onto the scene. WILMIC developed and launched its first website in 1996. It would be upgraded many times in the years since, but like most other businesses, WILMIC had entered the technology age.
It was also a time when WILMIC was paying back all the bonds that were sold to raise the money needed to start the company in 1986. For many, paying back the bonds was the turning point for the company. “A lot of people thought they would end up simply giving us this money. They didn’t expect to get it back,” says Katja Kunzke, then Vice President of Claims, now President and CEO.
“It took perseverance and steadiness, and a commitment to what we were doing for lawyers. And those tenets are still at the heart of what we do today,” Kunzke says. “Those were exciting days and we knew we were doing something really good and important for Wisconsin lawyers.”
After the economic downturn in 2008, WILMIC continued its commitment to solo practitioners and small firm lawyers. “Many of those firms were hit hard by that recession. We had to be there when they needed us most.”
And now, in the past year, with the pandemic still going, WILMIC has committed to offering CLE programs online, being as accessible as ever, and working with the State Bar, local bars and others to help direct lawyers to the resources they need, whether it’s cybersecurity, remote “work-from-home” information, or resources on client communication and services during the pandemic.
WILMIC is still moving forward. After 35 years, the company is poised to take on new challenges as the practice of law continues to evolve and the world emerges from the pandemic and the changing needs of clients.
Now in her seventeenth year at the helm, Kunzke sees a steady, stable and evolving company equipped to respond to the new challenges facing its policyholders. “Our intent is still the same – to protect the professional liability of the lawyers we insure. The tools we use to further that intent change all the time.” Consequently, Kunzke says, WILMIC will continue to explore ways to serve its policyholders in 2021 and beyond. “One of the strongest assets we have is trust. Lawyers trust us because they know us, and they know we work hard to understand the challenges of practicing law. We were formed to help Wisconsin lawyers better serve their clients, a mission we continue today.”