"No matter the situation, Wuest keeps his cool"
Wisconsin Law JournalSpetember 19, 2017
At the office, Matthew Wuest is known as Matty Ice – and no, the nickname has nothing to do with the Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Rather, the senior associate at Godfrey & Kahn is known for remaining even-keeled even in the most stressful of circumstances. Nic Wahl, managing partner at Godfrey and Wuest’s supervisor, said that Wuest has an incredible ability to take on ever more work without losing his composure.
“He’s just unflappable, very cool under pressure, very smart – all those things you want, especially in a litigator,” says Wahl.
One thing that Wuest likes about his work is the opportunity it gives him to constantly come up with new ways to carry out his responsiblities.
“There are always different strategic ways to get your point across,” he said. “The rules are all there to be found. But, in the rules, it affords creative thinkers ways to try to problem solve for the client.”
He also enjoys helping clients. The bulk of his work might be in representing businesses.
But businesses are ultimately run by people – most of whom would rather not be embroiled in litigation.
Although he largely enjoys his work, it’s far from easy. Wuest said his job can in fact often be much harder than he ever expected. One way he lightens the load is to turn to his colleagues for advice and help.
“You’re challenged, I think, every single day,” he said. “The way I’ve overcome those challenges is by relying on the people around me.”
Wuest caught the litigation bug when he was completing a clinical internship at the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which exonerates wrongfully convicted individuals. Working there gave Wuest an opportunity to encounter a wide variety of clients.
The experiences he most cherishes include the time he watched a client walk free after spending a decade in prison for a homicide he did not commit and the work he was able to do alongside three professors: John Pray, Keith Findley and Byron Lichstein.
“I got incredible opportunities as a law student to draft appellate briefs, to examine witnesses in court,” he said. “It was a great experience all around.”
His work has also made Wuest more aware of how many people can’t afford legal representation. That, in turn, has redoubled his commitment to pro bono work.
His firm has helped continue further those interests. Beyond taking on various cases for no compensation, Wuest now leads the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association’s pro bono efforts. In that role, he has helped roll out the association’s Pro Se Federal Civil Litigant Help Line.
-- Erika Strebel