In early 2021, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, like many organizations, was unable to hold its usual educational and networking events because of Covid-19.
Samuel Wendt, then president of the organization, thought of another way to keep attorneys connected to the group and one another: launch a podcast.
“In Re KCMBA” featured Wendt, a personal injury attorney, and William Martucci, an employment lawyer, interviewing fellow counselors and discussing topics such as remote litigation in a pandemic; legal marketing tips; and cyber security.
“It’s a nice way to reach people on a different platform that we had not explored before, and we might not have but for Covid,” said Vickie Mauck, executive director of the bar association. “We have had close to 2,000 listens, so we view that as a big success and an innovation that Sam led.”
That’s just one example of how Wendt’s leadership at the organization and his law firm proved crucial during the pandemic.
“It’s been a very challenging year, one where we thought we would have Covid square behind us, and [Wendt’s] leadership through this really challenging time has been extraordinary and its due to his deep understanding of our business model,” Mauck said in December.
To build solidarity, Wendt said he does “everything in my office that I ask anyone else to do, whether it’s ordering paper for the copy machine or taking the most complicated case to trial.”
With the bar association, as with other organizations, the pandemic made meetings more complicated.
“Many of my colleagues, we were joking that the pandemic made things three times more difficult and three times more work without the fun stuff, without getting together for conferences,” Wendt said.
But Wendt still worked to keep attorneys connected to the bar association. He organized virtual town hall meetings with Mayor Quinton Lucas and local judges, among others.
At a town hall, Wendt asked Lucas about topics such as the mask mandate; economic development; homelessness; and policing. At a meeting with Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Dale Youngs, Wendt asked him how they would handle jury selection, given the social distancing necessitated by the pandemic.
Hundreds of members attended each session, and for those who didn’t, the organization turned interviews into podcast episodes.
The events “were a way that we could communicate information that was constantly changing to our members,” Wendt said.
Wendt was able to make the town halls happen because of his “deep relationships” with local leaders, Mauck said.
In summary, Mauck attributes Wendt’s success as a leader to the fact that “when he commits to something, he is extremely knowledgeable about it, is very passionate about it and has incredible follow through.”