December 2019 - WPDN

She’s one of the good guys. When Alia Scott started working for WPDN in November of 2018, she came into the practice with wide eyes and pure intentions. That wasn’t just because of her age, either (at just 28 years old, she’s the youngest associate in the firm). Alia believed in the justice system and she became a lawyer not for the money, but for the opportunity to help people and actually do some good in the world. Many law students are like that. They begin their law school career with the best of intentions, but then life happens and many of those intentions fall by the wayside. Only a select few lawyers are able to maintain their grace, stamina and determination to leave the world better off than how they found it.

WPDN is full of lawyers like these, which is why Alia wanted to work with them in the first place. She wanted to make a lasting, positive impression on the world around her and she wanted to use her skills in reading, writing, researching and public speaking to do it.

“I think I decided to become a lawyer because I’ve always been interested in the legal system and the justice system,” Alia stated. “After graduating with my Bachelors Degree in criminal justice, I decided that the legal field would be something I would be good at. So, I decided to go to law school.. Plus, I really enjoy research and writing and that’s a big aspect of a lot of legal practices. Mostly, I’ve just always had a desire to kind of help the underdogs.”

That desire to help the underdogs first led Alia down the path of Immigration law. But with the state of immigration currently in disarray and extremely backlogged, she has since focused her attention on other aspects of law.

“I would say that most of my cases are more on the defense side of things,” Alia revealed. “I have a public defender contract, but I’m also one of the town prosecutors for Evansville now. So, in the criminal aspect, I do both. But I also work on insurance defense and business litigation. And in the business litigation realm, I’ve done both plaintiff and defendant work.”

She truly is a jack-of-all-trades and her interest in all aspects of law are what led her to WPDN.

“I got in touch with Kyle [Ridgeway] and I had known Amy [Iberlin] from college and I really respect both of them a lot,” she stated. “They both said that the type of work that everyone does here [at WPDN] is really varied, and that’s what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do. I knew some things that I liked and I knew some things that I didn’t like, but I wasn’t quite sure about which direction to go. So, I decided that I wanted to practice somewhere that had a lot of mentorship and a wide variety of areas of law that I could kind of dip my feet in and figure out what suited me.”

In the year Alia has been with WPDN, she has learned a lot about the practice, about law and even about herself. She has won the majority of her cases and has stood out in all of the best ways. But, she says, her success never would have been possible if WPDN didn’t create an environment that encouraged asking questions.

“I’ve been told to never be afraid to ask questions, which is a silly thing to say, maybe, and a lot of people say it, but [my colleagues at WPDN] really mean it,” Alia said. “Everyone here is so willing to help you out with a project or answer questions, even if it may seem simple. I think just being able to learn from a lot of different people and see their style helps me create my own style with writing and how to engage with other attorneys.”

Engaging with fellow attorneys, as well as with clients, is a very big aspect of law. Far too often, especially inside of a courtroom, emotions can override logic. Things can get heated and it’s easy to fall into a shouting match. But,in Alia’s mind, arguing and relying on emotions is not how a case is won.

“I really do trust the justice system and I think I learned that when I was clerking,” she said. “If you have a case with a lot of questions, and a lot of doubts, trust the system and take it to trial. But, at the same time, if it’s a case where people just have really staunch positions and they don’t want to give in at all, then you need to be able to use effective communication and really talk to people. The justice system, especially with trials, isn’t made for people just wanting to argue. It’s made for finding the truth and the facts of the situation. So, one thing I’ve learned is definitely how to be a better communicator.”

Those communication techniques are things Alia applies to every case that she is a part of. Whether it’s civil or criminal case, she tries to find the truth and, thus, speak the truth in every case she tries. That is a practice that every lawyer at WPDN applies to their work. They’re not trying to play “gotcha” or to accuse without merit or to manipulate. They are there to find the truth. And the truth of the matter is, most of the time, lawyers are the good guys.

“It seems like a lot of people think that lawyers are always involved in negative situations in people’s lives, but there’s a lot of things that come out of these offices that I think are really positive,” she reiterated. “Whether it’s setting up a business, facilitating an adoption or even divorce, at the end of the day, can be a positive change for people’s lives. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to change the perception of attorneys, but I do want people to know that attorneys aren’t only there when you’re having a bad day; they can really be a good point of reference and help with a lot of good things, too!”

 

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Finally.

As Zara Mason stood in front of the justices, her peers and, most importantly, her family to take her oath as a newly-appointed lawyer in the state of Wyoming, she thought a lot about the roads that she traveled to get to this point. There was high school, followed by college where she was a Division-I student athlete. There was a Master’s Degree, during which she interned as an investigator with the El Paso County Public Defender’s Office. There were the years spent as a Private Investigator, primarily working on sex-related crimes. Then came the long nights, uneventful weekends and unexciting winter and summer breaks, while she worked to financially put herself through law school and become a member of the Wyoming Law Review. Then, finally, there was the law degree, the bar exam and the job offer from WPDN – an offer that she said she ‘bullied’ her way into. But that’s how Zara has always been; she works hard for what she wants, and she doesn’t stop until, finally, she gets it.

“To be completely honest with you, WPDN wasn’t even hiring at the time I was looking to secure a post-graduate job,” Mason revealed. “In the fall of 2018, WPDN was looking for a second-year summer associate and I reached out to Kyle Ridgeway because I had previously seen some of his work product and I recognized his name.”

Mason recalled emailing Ridgeway and passing along her resume and a cover letter, hoping that he would get her materials to the right people.

“So, in a way, I was lucky that my resume even got delivered to Scott Ortiz and Amy Iberlin,” she continued. “They happened to be coming down to Laramie to interview second-year law students for the summer internship and I essentially just told Scott and Amy that I wanted to work for WPDN as an associate.”

While Zara maintains that she somewhat bullied her way into her position, WPDN wouldn’t have hired her unless she had already proven herself and produced a pretty remarkable resume. She seemed like a good fit for the team and the team, likewise, seemed like a good fit for her.

 “At WPDN, the attorneys are treated like adults, you know?” Mason noted. “We have autonomy in what we do but, at the same time, if you need anything, everybody is here to help you. And everyone here is so friendly and welcoming – I’ve just been absolutely blown away and stunned by how helpful people are because, with an office this size, it’s easy for people to kind of get into their own little bubble. But people have been extremely welcoming, and it’s been such a pleasant surprise.”

Something Mason wasn’t necessarily surprised about was the work ethic of her colleagues at WPDN. Mason has worked hard for everything she has gotten over the years and, for her, it was a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by people who shared her drive.

“I’ll never forget how busy and exhausted I was as an undergrad, being a student-athlete. But here, my work ethic is matched by everybody I work with. So, if you’re looking for an attorney who’s going to work hard for you, then that’s what you’re going to get if you hire an attorney from WPDN. I’m extremely impressed by the hours that these men and women put into doing their job, as well as their commitment to doing the right thing, the right way, every time.”

Zara has grown up in a family of hard workers, so the atmosphere at WPDN is nothing new. Her father is a surgeon, as well as the owner of Alcova Lakeside Marina and her mother is a retired med-surg nurse of 40 years. Her husband is a commercial fisherman who also manages the Alcova Lakeside Marina. There are times when Zara and her husband only see each other for a few hours a day, but they both fully support each other.

“It’s genetic,” Mason said of her work ethic. “My dad is an animal. My dad is sixty-six [years old] and he’s still a practicing surgeon. He’s the interim CEO of a company and he owns the Marina that my husband works at. We just love to work; we like to be busy and we like to learn, and you don’t learn things unless you do things. And I’m 100% convinced that my work ethic is driven by genetics.”

Growing up with that work ethic, and then marrying somebody who also likes working hard, has perfectly prepared Zara for life in the fast-paced world of a law office. That is why it was so important for her husband and family to be present in the courtroom as she was getting sworn in to be a lawyer in Wyoming. As she stood among them, about to take her oath, there was one word that her mind kept going back to.

“If I had to pick one word to describe this experience, it would probably be the word finally,”

 Mason admitted. “I’ve been working in the legal field for five years now, either in my capacity as an investigator with the public defender’s office, a Private Investigator, a legal intern with the Albany County Attorney’s Office or when I worked for the firm down in Colorado Springs doing personal injury and workers’ compensation. I’ve learned a lot along the way and now I have the ability to make the decisions that I want to make. And that’s what I mean by the word, finally. Now, I can learn and do what I think needs to be done.”

“Finally,” she added.

 

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