While she never envisioned that one day she would lead Louisiana’s largest workers’ compensation insurance provider, Kristin Wall (’89) credits her time at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center with giving her the critical thinking skills she’s needed as president and CEO of LWCC.
“I am completely certain that I would not have had the opportunities to be in the leadership positions that I have had without the education I received at LSU Law,” Wall said as to why she supports the Law Center as a member of the Dean’s Council. “It was a life-changing experience for me, and I have tremendous gratitude for the education I received in law school.”
Just as she didn’t imagine working in the insurance industry, Wall didn’t initially plan to go to law school. But watching her brother Keith Welch (’76) graduate from LSU Law after attending college to be a mechanical engineer motivated her to try her hand at law school.
“Seeing him switch careers and go after something that he thought he would be more passionate about was inspiring,” said Wall, who holds her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Louisiana Monroe. “Having a great big brother to look up to and encourage me was also significant.”
With the support of her fiancé-turned-husband A. Kip Wall, who would later go to law school himself, the Jena native enrolled at LSU Law.
“I had no idea I was interested in labor law until I took Professor Benjamin Shieber’s class,” Wall said, also citing the late Professor Saul Litvinoff and Judge Alvin B. Rubin (’42) as two influential professors. “I remember just really being fascinated by it.”
She was also a part of the notorious Section 4, in which she formed many long-lasting relationships with her classmates that not only helped her survive the rigors of law school, but also later build one of the top-performing insurance companies in the country.
Wall joined LWCC as managing claims attorney in 1992, and her first task was to develop their in-house law firm. As she racked her brain as to who she could recruit to join her at the budding company, her classmate Michael Stiltner (’89) came to mind.
Though he was already employed elsewhere, “I knew I could trust him and that he would be committed.” Wall was successful in persuading Stiltner to join her. Now, he serves as General Counsel at LWCC and is also a member of the Dean’s Council.
The excitement of forming a new organization and stabilizing the volatile insurance market in Louisiana motivated Wall, even at a time when many insurance providers were leaving the state.
“Almost everyone thought it would not succeed,” she said of the long hours that she and other employees put in to get the company off the ground. LWCC has since been recognized as one of the top 50 property casualty companies in the country by Ward’s, an honor it recently achieved for the 18th time.
Along with the joy of watching the company become the “workplace of the future,” Wall is especially proud of how LWCC has supported small and large businesses in Louisiana through its dividend program.
“When you are returning a dividend to a small business, you could be helping them make payroll for the month,” she said. “Dividends are not guaranteed, so being able to return in excess of $100 million back to Louisiana businesses is a real source of achievement for us.”
Another source of pride and achievement for Wall comes from her two daughters. Kaitlin Wall Lacoste graduated from LSU Law in 2020 and is now an attorney at Erlingson Banks. Kelsey Wall, who decided to forgo the unofficial family tradition of earning a law degree, is a senior policy advisor in Washington, D.C.
“She just didn’t see that for herself, and I am so glad that she made her own way,” said Wall, who understands the importance of marching to the beat of your own drummer. Perhaps that’s why she compares her role as president and CEO to an orchestra conductor, spending her days identifying talent, listening to that talent, and thinking about the next steps. Or, maybe it’s from her experiences playing trumpet at veterans’ memorial services as a child, and in the symphonic and marching bands in college. But Wall contends her JD is truly what prepared her to take the lead.
“It’s a huge advantage, whether you intend to practice or not,” she said. “Going to law school gave me the confidence that I needed to understand the operations that are vital to LWCC’s success.”