Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Wade Thomson is a litigator and partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago. Wade has specialized in litigating business-to-business disputes in aerospace and aviation. He has also had experience with media law and investigations and compliance.
How has your practice evolved during the last few years?
I have always focused on personal relationships in business development because that is something I truly value.
I haven’t changed that focus but I do think it has become even more pronounced during the pandemic. Everyone was facing new challenges and connecting on a personal level was very important.
What’s one piece of technology you could not function without?
The shared calendar app. Scheduling things between family and work has only become more difficult with fewer people in offices, amorphous work hours, and more Zooms.
How do you manage your well-being?
What’s stress? Seriously, I try a couple things for well-being to keep things in perspective.
I work on pro bono matters. I make it a point to exercise, even when I’m tired and have a lot to do. And when I’m with friends and family, I try to focus on being in the moment.
How do you remain civil in tense situations?
Fortunately, I’ve had good mentors who have always told me the very real truth about the legal community being a small one in which reputation matters.
I also find that being uncivil wastes time and resources for everyone.
Finally, life is simply too short and difficult for anything less than treating others kindly and professionally.
How can attorneys advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession?
It must be intentional and front of mind.
It doesn’t always have to be headline-grabbing programs (although those are great). Sometimes small changes in routine behaviors or defaults can help, such as making diversity a key consideration in daily staffing decisions, invitations, etc.
These types of changes put the issue front of mind. That ideally makes bigger discussions and actions more likely and effective.
I have gained a lot (and hopefully given something of value) from being a member of Jenner’s DEI committee and have enjoyed personally partnering with and sponsoring diverse attorneys and would encourage others to participate in similar endeavors.
What is an attorney’s role in furthering public confidence in the rule of law?
I am always chagrined when I hear lawyer jokes because they often convey a lack of confidence in the profession. But I understand where that distrust comes from.
I believe strongly in the rule of law. For that to work all the practitioners of the law must strive to do it professionally and with fairness, recognizing that our audience is constant and important to the equation.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Locate good mentors (those you may wish to emulate both professionally and personally) and rely on them frequently.
What do you think is the biggest challenge impacting lawyers today?
Changes in day-to-day practice (Zoom, work from home, etc.) are altering expectations and boundaries. Some of those changes may be good but the jury is still out—please check back in three to five years!
What do you do for fun?
My favorite out-of-office reply I use is “gone fishin’” for a reason. I am easy to please with just about every outdoor activity. Above all though, spending time with family and friends, ideally involving comfort food and red wine.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys here.