Wesley J. Gralapp was born in Gulfport, MS, and spent his formative years growing up on River Road along the banks of the Mississippi River in Reserve, LA. Reserve is a small, close-knit town that follows a special tradition of building Christmas bonfires on the levee of the mighty Mississippi to light the way for Papa Noel each Christmas season. Family and friends gather along the river on Christmas Eve to share gumbo, socialize at the bonfires, and finish off the evening with Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Church on River Road.
Growing up, Wes’ dad Captain Brownie was either working as a charter boat fishing captain on the Better N’ Better, or a tugboat captain on the Mrs. Betsie. Naturally, Wes came to love being on the water whether it be at the beach or on a boat. Fishing and relaxing at the water’s edge is something Wes is fond of and has passed on to his children. Upon moving to Central Louisiana and discovering duck hunting in the rice fields, Wes became an avid duck hunter. Of course, Wes bleeds the purple and gold of the LSU Fighting Tigers and rarely misses the opportunity to watch a game with family and friends.
Prior to attending law school Wes had many jobs in construction. He is very familiar with home construction and repairs, which his wife reminds him of with a long list of honey-dos. The one job that he found most compelling was at the US Attorney’s Office while studying as an undergraduate at the University of South Alabama. He participated in many investigations and prosecutions as an office assistant, such as the Billy Cannon counterfeiting scheme, the investigation involving former Governor Edwin Edwards and Barry Seal, since made famous by the movie American Made. The job closest to his heart is the one he held in Mobile, AL caring for his ailing grandparents and great-grandmother.
Wes obtained his law degree from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University. Having worked since the age of 12, one of the things Wes is most proud of is maintaining a full-time job for most of his law school career to support his wife Kim, daughter, Katie and son, Weslee. In addition to raising a family while in law school, Wes clerked at Roy, Keisel, Aaron & Tucker, and Thomas Damico & Associates.
Wes met his sweetheart and now wife in 1982 while attending LSU and fell in love at first sight. He married Kim in 1987, which he says in the best thing he ever did. Wes and Kim have raised two sons and a daughter. One thing they all have in common is carrying on the LSU tradition, as everyone has graduated from the university including his son and daughter-in-law. Wes and Kim have 3 grandchildren with another grandchild on the way and hope the LSU Gralapp Alumni will continue to grow. The Gralapps love to cook traditional South Louisiana dishes for friends and family while enjoying a ball game or celebrating a special event. From crawfish boils in the spring to gumbos of the fall, if there is a pot to be stirred there is usually a Gralapp holding a paddle.
Wes became a member of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault in 1992. Currently, Wes is licensed to practice in all State and Federal Courts in Louisiana. His practice is primarily in the personal injury area where he helps people who have been injured in automobile accidents, offshore accidents, admiralty and maritime claims and wrongful death as well as nursing home neglect and medical malpractice. Wes always enjoys assisting the seamen with their maritime claims as he was raised in a family of boat captains.
Interestingly, one of the things which makes Wes a great lawyer is that he is a natural storyteller. From the time he started school he was told he had the gift of gab and he should use it wisely. As time passed, he enjoyed the attention of those who would listen and continued to hone his skills. Whether it is for entertainment, to share a life lesson or to convince a judge or jury to rule favorably for his client, Wes has a story to tell.
When asked why he became a lawyer, Wes replied, “To help people, it’s just that simple.” Growing up it became obvious to Wes that not all people are treated equally. He learned that he had a gift that could help others have access to justice and help right a wrong. He felt that it was his duty and obligation to do so. It was not easy growing up without the means to go to school but out of grit, determination, and loyalty to those who needed him, Wes made it through law school and is still serving those in need today. In fact, when Wes was in elementary school, lore has it that he represented his entire class against the Federal Communication Commission. As it were the Watergate Hearings were televised and preempted many of the afternoon TV programs that Wes and his classmates loved, like Gilligan’s Island. After writing a letter of protest to President Ford he received a very thick explanation from the government along with their refusal to turn off Watergate. “It’s the only case I ever lost,” Wes says. Now there’s the storyteller we told you about!
Wes chose personal injury law because of his compassion for people. When people are injured it changes their whole life, not just physically and financially but mentally as well. A personal injury lawyer is often a bridge for someone to cross the gap between an unexpected tragedy and a fresh start with a new outlook. Wes’ mother taught him that there is no better virtue than to help others when they need it most, and to using your skills, knowledge, and experience is the only way to show appreciation for the blessings bestowed on you. Wes said this about his decision to go into personal injury law: “For someone to have hope and confidence that they will overcome their struggles and see a better day is the inspiration for me to do what I do.”
Wes has assisted many clients for nearly three decades, obtaining verdicts and settlements totaling over $100 million. He also enjoys the highest ethical rating for lawyers based on a peer review study conducted by the oldest lawyer rating service in America. Wes is a member of the Alexandria Bar Association, the Louisiana State Bar Association, the Louisiana Association for Justice, and the American Association for Justice.
- For years Wes has been involved in supporting the men and women who serve and protect us. With great admiration for his grandfathers and their brothers who fought WWII, he proudly supports the 199th Brigade Support Battalion. Annually, these men and women gather to commemorate the year and enjoy blowing off a little steam. Through Wes’ effort Neblett, Beard & Arsenault has been a sponsor of this event for several years. “Nothing makes you humbler than when a soldier thanks you for being a patriot,” Wes said.
- Law enforcement is also dear to Wes. His younger brother, Cole has been a leader in the Louisiana Probation and Parole Association for the entirety of his career. Whether it is speaking at a conference, judging a cooking contest or contributing to their cause, Wes has been a major supporter of this organization throughout his life. “The front line has never been closer to our neighborhoods and schools; we must support those who defend that line,” Wes said regarding law enforcement.
- Currently Wes is heavily involved in NBA’s efforts to show appreciation for our teachers. Our Feed the Teachers Program was sparked by Wes knowing that teachers take their students in and develop them as tomorrow’s leaders. After all, his wife and daughter are both teachers! Wes is very passionate about this program, and said, “I’ve seen the countless and thankless hours teachers put in to make the world a better place; the least we can do is bring them a warm plate of appreciation.”
JURISDICTIONS ADMITTED TO PRACTICE
- Louisiana, 1992
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana
- U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana
- Louisiana State Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association
- American Bar Association
- American Association for Justice
- Louisiana Association for Justice
- J.D., Louisiana State University Law Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; 1992
- B.A., University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama; 1989
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