We’re just going to say it: we’re picky. So, when we started our search for an attorney to join our team in Indianapolis, we took our time in finding someone who had the right mix of skills. The ideal candidate is business-savvy, detail-oriented, and widely experienced.
With that criteria in mind, when we found Wes Zirkle, we knew he was a perfect fit for our team and clients, alike.
Wes comes to Gutwein Law with nearly 20 years experience as an attorney representing celebrities, advising Fortune 1000 companies, growing a small business into a global leader in its field, and leading marketing agencies. He bears all the qualities we prize in our people: intelligence, integrity, and a burning desire to help our clients grow. In the Q&A below, Wes explains why he left his in-house past behind, his love for seafood, and more.
First, the basics: Where are you from?
Warsaw, Indiana. But, I was actually born in Landstuhl, Germany (yes, I’m a U.S. Citizen). My father was in the Air Force and babysat missiles for a living, so we moved a lot when I was young. I had a brief stint in Cheyanne, Wyoming before we settled down in the orthopedic capital of the world.
Where did you attend college?
I attended Wabash College. It was suggested by my cousin who graduated from Wabash. My uncle Rich had also been a math professor there. But, those factors didn’t really play a part in my decision to attend. I went on a visit fell in love with it immediately. I actually ended up cancelling my visit at IU because I was sold on Wabash right away.
What led you to a life as an attorney?
My Uncle Jack. He was the Associate General Counsel of Lincoln Financial (the #2 lawyer there). He started at Lincoln right after law school and retired there, so needless to say, he had a long and excellent career with the company.
Anyway, one day he sent me a three-page letter on company letterhead encouraging me to attend law school. I won’t go into great detail, but it essentially said he believed I had high integrity and moral character, and therefore, the profession needed me. Uncle Jack was a hero of mine so I didn’t think twice.
What attracted you to Gutwein Law (other than the sweet downtown office space and the super-nice people, of course)?
Well, I was searching for a new position – looking mostly at the big firms. When I came across the Gutwein Law website, though, I got a good vibe. I watched the attorney videos, looked at the practice areas, and read about the culture, and instantly knew this was a place I wanted to be. During my marketing agency days, I spent a lot of time around fun, creative people, which was something Gutwein Law could offer. After I had a chance to visit and talk more with the team, it was a no-brainer.
The majority of your experience has been spent in-house. What made you want to make the leap to the firm side?
I’m a teacher at heart. Over the course of several years as an in-house attorney, I gained a lot of meaningful and beneficial experiences – a perspective I wanted to share with others. I really enjoyed my time as an in-house attorney, but having one client can be tough. So, after some soul searching and encouragement from my wife, I knew that using my experience to help many clients via private practice was the right move. I’m really enjoying it so far and believe my clients are benefitting from my unique background, as well.
Obviously, you’re here to help Gutwein Law clients, but what do you personally hope to get out of the job?
During my career, I was fortunate enough to become part of a small company that grew into a global leader in its space. I want to be a part of a rocket ship like that again and I see Gutwein Law as a firm that can be whatever it wants to be. There’s a lot of energy here and I’m thankful to be a part of another opportunity to grow a business to be bigger and better than its individual parts.
We like food here. Any restaurants you’re looking forward to frequenting now that you’re in the downtown Indianapolis office?
I know this isn’t exactly the best city for it, but I love seafood. And there are some really good seafood restaurants downtown. Overall, though, I love the energy of downtown Indianapolis and am looking forward to trying a lot of new things. If you have any suggestions, send them my way.
If you could grab a seafood dinner with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be?
Evan Bayh. Definitely. He was one of the bright stars in Washington at the time. He had it all, yet he just walked away. I want to know why.
What’s your secret power?
That’s a tough one. I’ve been told I have the superpower of wisdom (whatever that means). I received an award for it once at a previous company and was told I possess the ability to bring calm to difficult and intense situations. I guess that’s a good trait to have in this profession. My hope is to bring that to each of my client interactions.
OK, last question. You used to represent celebrities. What is your best celebrity encounter?
There are some good ones, and one day we can talk over a beer about some characters like John Force or Maria Elena Holly (Buddy Holly’s widow), but the best has to be helping Chuck Berry design a custom Gibson guitar at his house outside of St. Louis. It was surreal because I loved the song “Jonny B. Goode” when I was a kid and, here I was, in Chuck Berry’s basement recording studio. I was one of 5 people in the room including him! One of my suggestions made it into the final design. Ask me sometime why you can’t buy the guitar…