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Debating, listening key to Schmidt’s success

T. Wickham Schmidt (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

T. Wickham Schmidt (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

T. Wickham Schmidt enjoys a good debate. So when it came time to pick a career, attorney naturally rose to the top of the list.

“I used to debate my friends growing up,” said Schmidt, now an attorney with Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry SC in Green Bay. “I have strong positions on some topics, which made for interesting times. I like to get at the truth and I really see my work as a way to help people solve the problems in their lives.”

Schmidt focuses on complex business litigation, including class-action lawsuits, patent infringement cases and construction disputes. When people have a dispute, they often find it difficult to listen to the other side – which is where he comes in, Schmidt said.

“When people get into a dispute they often have difficulty listening to the other person and trying to figure out what’s at the heart of the problem,” said Schmidt, who was involved with mock trial in high school and later coached a mock trial team. “I am able to listen to people and work with them to solve their problems. I’m very good at listening, which is key to solving a problem.”

A native of Virginia, Schmidt came to Wisconsin to serve as a law clerk to Judge William Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin. “After that, I never left,” he said, adding he’s not a fan of Wisconsin winters, especially this past one. “Working with Judge Griesbach was a great experience and I really got to see how the court system works.”

Now that he’s out in front of judges, Schmidt said he enjoys the complicated cases that cross his desk.

“I really enjoy cases that make you really think,” he said. “Sometimes I think the more complicated the case, the better.”

Wisconsin Law Journal: What was your favorite class in law school?
T. Wickham Schmidt: The History of Yale Law School. It was a complete exercise in institutional self-absorption. Ironically, it was taught by a visiting professor from the University of California-Santa Barbara, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

WLJ: What career would you have chosen if you weren’t an attorney?
Schmidt: My mother wanted me to be a doctor, but I probably would have ended up teaching high school Latin, because that’s the only other thing I was qualified to do.

WLJ: What app can’t you live without?
Schmidt: eBay mobile. Great waste of time, even greater waste of money.

WLJ: What is your favorite activity to do in Wisconsin?
Schmidt: Hibernate all winter.

WLJ: Who is someone you admire?
Schmidt: Francis L. Patton, the last good president of Princeton before Woodrow Wilson ruined it.

WLJ: What was your favorite toy as a child?
Schmidt: I had a succession of stuffed elephants that I carried around long after they lost their stuffing and turned into gray, dirty rags.

WLJ: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Schmidt: Maine, but only during the summers.

WLJ: What was the last book that you read?
Schmidt: ‘July 1914: Countdown to War’ by Sean McMeekin.

WLJ: What activity could you spend hours doing outside of work?
Schmidt: Pheasant hunting.

WLJ: Is there a word or phrase that you tend to overuse?
Schmidt: Endeavor (as a verb).

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