Nicholas P. Wahl, Managing partner of Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
Address: 780 N. Water St., Milwaukee
Number of employees: 395
Family: Wife, Sally, and three teenage boys – Nicholas, Jack and Alec
Who is your business mentor?
“One of the best things about working in our law firm is that I am surrounded by extremely smart, motivated people with a variety of backgrounds. I am learning every day from the people I work with, both from our lawyers and our staff. And as a business lawyer, I also enjoy the benefit of learning valuable lessons from our clients as part of my everyday practice. So that’s a long way of saying that I can’t name just one.”
What corporate accomplishment from the past year are you proudest of?
“I will answer that in the context of the last four years, which has been a historically turbulent time for a lot of law firms. And yet in those last four years, we have continued to add talent to our ranks, we have obtained a lot of great results for our clients and, as a result, we have had the four most successful years in our firm’s history.”
What’s new at your firm? What are your priorities for 2014?
“Well, everyone in Milwaukee always seems to be interested in new development downtown. And it’s no secret that we have been looking for a new headquarters for several years and have targeted Mark Irgens’ 833 (East Michigan) development. So, one of our priorities is to see that development break ground and move forward in 2014.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“We measure our success by the success of our clients. That concept was pounded into my head when I started 23 years ago, and we still talk about it all the time. We are in a service business. We strive every day to do right by our clients and we know that if we can help them be successful, our success will follow.”
What advice would you pass on to the next generation of legal professionals?
“Understand that it is a very demanding profession. It will challenge you mentally (which I find to be one of the best parts of the profession), and it will also demand an extraordinary amount of your time. Make sure you have a good idea as to how you want to use your degree before going to law school (it’s expensive) and, when deciding where you are going to work, make sure you enjoy the people you will be working with because you will spend a lot of time with them.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“It sounds boring, but I like to spend as much of my free time as possible with my family. We know the time with our three boys is fleeting, so we try to grab every moment we can. Other than that, I like following our local sports teams and Kansas Jayhawks basketball (my alma mater). I try to play as much golf as I can during the summer and recently, given the snow and cold, I have been cross-country skiing (golf is much easier).”