James G. Woltermann Profiled in the Northern Kentucky Bar Association’s Lex Loci
I am truly honored to author this profile of Jim Woltermann. If there is a more genuine, modest, and skilled lawyer in greater Cincinnati, I have yet to run across that person. In 1999, a couple of months after I joined Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing, P.L.L.C., Jim asked me to assist him in a matter in which the late Tom Willenborg was opposing counsel. I knew Tom pretty well as a result of my employment with the Kenton County Attorney’s Office and had a lot of respect for him. Upon my initial telephone call to Tom, he gushed about Jim and told me that I was lucky to be working with Jim because he is “definitely one of the good guys.” At the time, I did not really know Jim all that well, but Tom’s comment stuck with me. Now, after having practiced law with Jim for more than thirteen years, I can personally attest to the fact that Jim is indeed “one of the good guys.”
Jim graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1972. Upon graduating, he joined forces with John Brooking and Don Stepner. Gerry Dusing joined their fledgling law firm not long thereafter. The rest, as they say, is history. Although the name on the door has changed a little bit throughout the years (including the addition of Jim’s name, along with Gerry Dusing’s in 1982), Jim has practiced law with the same firm for the last forty years.
In the early days of Jim’s legal career, Jim was, like most of his colleagues, a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. He practiced in the areas of domestic law, real estate, and litigation. He even went to police court on occasion! However, as Jim’s legal career progressed, he found particular enjoyment in the areas of transactional work, estate planning, and probate law. Thus, for most of his career, Jim’s focus has been in those areas of the law. Jim finds practicing in these areas particularly fulfilling because he believes if he does his job well then everybody can leave the table happy, which is of course not the case in many areas of the law. As those of you who have run across Jim in practicing these types of cases can affirm, Jim is an extremely skilled practitioner. Jim serves his clients by not only providing excellent legal advice, but he has an innate ability to fully apprise his clients of the practical implications of his legal advice, which allows them to make sound business decisions.
Since many of my partners have practiced law with Jim a lot longer than I, I thought I would get some additional perspective from them. Almost without exception, the first thing that they mentioned about Jim is his extraordinary gift as a teacher. Jim is never too busy to put down whatever he is doing to address any problem or question; be it personal or professional. I think it is safe to say that no partner or employee of our law firm has ever walked into Jim’s office without Jim immediately stopping whatever he is doing to listen and offer help. Our law firm prides itself in trying to be more than a workplace. Mike Sketch, a partner of Jim’s for 25 years, credits Jim with creating a family atmosphere at the law firm by opening himself and his home to all of the employees. For instance, for years and years, Jim fostered this environment by hosting a 4th of July picnic at his home on East Bend Road in Burlington. It was the highlight of the summer.
Jim’s commitment to community involvement and charitable causes is admirable. In 1985, he was elected to serve as the first president of the Northern Kentucky Bar Association. Over the years, Jim has also served on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Bar Association Foundation, on the Board of Trustees as a trustee and as President for St. Elizabeth Medical Center, on the Executive Committee for St. Elizabeth Healthcare Foundation, and on the Board of Directors and as President for Catholic Charities, Inc. Jim freely gives his time and talent to virtually anybody who asks for it.
Although it is hard to believe, Jim is an even better person than he is a lawyer. Jim has been happily married to his wife, Phyllis (nee Jones), for 36 years. Jim and Phyllis have four adult children: Karen, Jennifer, Emily, and Josh. Jim’s greatest pleasure is spending time with his family, including his 10 grandchildren, who range in age from one to eighteen. Jim especially enjoys spending time with his family on long weekend getaways during the winter at his home away from home in Florida.
To say that Jim has diverse interests separate and apart from his love of the law and his legal career would be a vast understatement. Jim fancies himself as a knowledgeable handicapper of the ponies. Although Jim sometimes critiques his thoroughbred handicapping in a rather self-deprecating manner, I know better! On the rare occasion that I head to the track, I always make sure to get some hot tips from Jim. Now more than ever, Jim loves to talk about his beloved Wildcats and University of Kentucky basketball. I wish I had a quarter for each minute I have spent in his office talking about the Cats. But you are just as likely to run into Jim at the opera or a Broadway play as you are at Great American Ball Park or Rupp Arena. Jim also enjoys the culinary arts and each April personally labors over cooking a delicious breakfast for our entire law firm to show his appreciation of their dedication and hard work.
I recently had the privilege of succeeding Jim in his role as managing partner of our law firm. After serving his law partners in that role for the better part of twenty years, Jim has decided to devote the remaining years of his professional career doing what he loves best – practicing law and serving clients. As I talked with Jim and prepared this article, Jim had only one request from me. Jim asked me to assure all of you that he is not going anywhere soon and to let you know that he is still “hard at it” doing what he loves best. That is a good thing for me because filling those big shoes will be a little bit easier with him around.
For Lex Loci publication click here.