For Robert Gingras, founder of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, the experience of starting a law firm and watching it grow into a statewide practice with many offices has been exhilarating.
“I can’t describe the feeling of putting up the library books by myself in our conference room for the first time,” Gingras said. “I will always remember that because I was building the foundation for my own firm.”
Gingras started his firm in 1989, seeking out freedom to make his own decisions and help people who have been wronged. He recalls a slow start, relying on a line of credit and reusing paper coffee cups to reduce costs. But over time, his persistence and dedication have paid off.
The firm is recognized for cases that result not only in success for clients but also change in society. Early in his career, Gingras won a racial-harassment lawsuit for a Black employee of the city of Madison’s garbage department. The victory resulted in a correction of systemic bias.
“Because of that verdict they changed the system,” Gingras said. “I knew I had done good for the public good, not just my client, and that was so rewarding to me.”
Lately, he has been suing drunken drivers who kill or seriously injure people in crashes. He recently settled a case for $5 million, sending a message to anyone who considers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
With success came the opportunity to increase the size of his firm. Gingras said it was a difficult decision to bring to partners, but it proved to be the right one. He added four more attorneys as partners and added four offices with about 45 employees. Throughout its growth, the firm has remained committed to fighting for clients who have been wronged.
“Robert works tirelessly on behalf of his clients to level the playing field for the underdog,” said Kimberly Sweatt, an attorney at GTW. “His calm demeanor and sharp mind are an asset to his clients, the firm and his field.”
Gingras encourages young lawyers to find what they love, practice law with integrity, and if they’re brave enough, start their own firm.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than to build a practice from the ground up,” Gingras said. “It gives such much more meaning to your law career to do that than to simply go into a firm that’s already existing.”