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Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville is proud to announce its partnership with Cheyenne-based firm McKellar, Tiedeken & Scoggin, led by attorney Sean Scoggin, as well as associate attorney Hannah West. Both Scoggins and West have a wealth of experience and they are eager to lend their expertise to the offices of WPDN.

Scoggin has been a practicing attorney since 1998. With an emphasis on trial practice, he has been involved in more than 35 jury trials in Wyoming, and more than 100 bench trials. Scoggin has defended a wide variety of lawsuits, including personal injury and wrongful death claims, arising from motor vehicle accidents, on the job accidents, and slips & falls. His experience as an attorney, as well as the quality of his character, make him a perfect fit for Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville.

“We’ve worked with Sean in a lot of various capacities over the years,” WPDN attorney Ryan Ford stated. “We’ve represented clients side-by-side with each other for a long time, and Sean was always recognized as a very stand up individual. He’s a very trustworthy, very honorable attorney and we like to pair with people like that.”

Scoggin and West will both stay in Cheyenne, continuing to serve their existing client base, while taking on additional clients under the WPDN banner.

“A big benefit to me joining Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville is my connection to Cheyenne,” Scoggin said. “It’s a good thing from the firm’s standpoint because, as I’ve seen the practice of law change a little bit over the last 23 years, I’ve noticed that you’re seeing a lot of bigger firms spread across multiple states. I think having the Cheyenne office and having the professional connections that I have in Cheyenne is a big positive for WPDN.”

Ford agreed, saying that being able to serve clients in two different geographic locations benefits WPDN and Scoggin but, even more importantly, it benefits clients.

“There are a lot of times that we had to travel to Cheyenne to get work done, meaning that we had to charge our clients for travel time and other things like that, but since we have a presence there now, we’re able to offer a greater spectrum of services and we can offer those services to our clients at a more affordable price.”
And that has, and always will be, WPDN’s biggest mission – to provide good service for a fair price to clients.

That is the reputation WPDN has built, and it’s one that Scoggin has taken note of.

“The biggest thing that attracted me to WPDN is the quality of attorneys,” he said. “And I don’t just mean attorneys as far as professionally practicing, but also the quality of attorneys personally, as well. The people there are really good, really professional people, but they’re also people I like. And they have a great reputation and a good clientele that I think meshes well with the clients and connections that I have.”

Scoggin and West have already begun working with WPDN and both are eager to lend their skills, knowledge, experience and, most importantly, their hearts to the team at Williams, Porter, Day and Neville.

It’s been said that when one door closes, another one opens. This is true in life, in love, and in career paths. Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville are proud to announce that their partner, Kyle Ridgeway, has accepted a position with Wyoming Financial Group (WERCS) as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). While the WPDN family will miss Kyle and all of the talent, drive, and client care that he brought to the table, they could not be prouder of him. Nobody is more deserving of this opportunity than he is. 

 

Kyle’s relationship with Wyoming Financial Group goes back several years, as they have been clients of his during his time at WPDN.

 

“I’ve represented Wyoming Financial Group for a number of years,” Ridgeway stated. “They were looking at succession planning and Bob Moberly asked me to come in to be his successor and work with him for a couple of years. With my background in doing all of their corporate work, and with my background in merger and acquisition work, it made a lot of sense on my part to work with them. They’re a Wyoming proud private equity group and they work to keep Wyoming businesses Wyoming owned, and they do lots of transactions to try and diversify Wyoming’s economy and reinvest money locally. They saw a role for me in that and I was incredibly honored.” 

 

Ridgeway said that the offer was completely unexpected.

 

“I don’t quite know how I feel yet, to be honest,” Ridgeway laughed. “I haven’t gotten outside of the forest to think about the trees too much. There’s a mix of emotions. It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming, it’s scary, it’s cool and kind of unbelievable, all at the same time. It means a lot to me that they would trust me and feel confident that I have the skill sets to do the job.” 

 

Ridgeway might be surprised that Wyoming Financial Group thought he was the right man for the job, but the news didn’t shock any of his clients, nor co-workers. From the moment he walked through the doors of WPDN seven years ago, he has been one of the firm’s most reliable, client-focused attorneys the firm has had the privilege of working with. From corporate and business planning to transactions and litigation, Ridgeway has more than proven himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of corporate law, which makes him the perfect fit for Wyoming Financial Group. 

 

“They have a couple of different subsidiary companies that are wholly owned. Part of what they have established is what I’ve been calling the ‘307 First Fund.’ It’s a pool of money that’s supposed to help small business owners with legacy capital. So if we have a business that’s important to Casper or to Wyoming and the owners are getting to retirement age and they don’t have anybody to buy them out, or if the kids are involved in the business but don’t have the money…when you get to the point that all of your net worth is in a business, and you want to retire, how do you get that out? We’re able to do things that banks can’t do, by stepping in with our corporate structure to merge with them or help them finance the transition so we can protect these companies from getting vultured by out-of-state entities who come in and gut everybody and move them to Denver, Salt Lake, or elsewhere.” Ridgeway explained that it also has a non-profit arm he will be involved in called “307 First” which promotes and highlights local businesses and how to increase Wyoming’s economic base by encouraging more local business activity (https://www.307first.com). 

 

He continued, stating that, “That’s the mission. And it’s really exciting for me, to grow up here, to do this kind of work in my hometown and use my skillsets as an attorney, as well as my business background. It’s a pretty cool opportunity.” 

 

It’s an opportunity that is well deserved. Ridgeway’s last day with WPDN will be June 30th. Before he leaves the firm completely, he wanted to make sure that each and every one of his clients knew of his plans and were transitioned to other extremely capable attorneys at WPDN, all of whom are excited to maintain the standard of excellence his clients have grown accustomed to.

 

Ridgeway’s areas of practice include corporate and business planning, transactions and litigation, employment law and compliance, insurance defense and coverage, and trusts and estates. Clients who are still involved with active cases have been notified by  Ridgeway and he has transitioned those clients to attorney’s within the firm whom he felt would best be able to serve them. Those clients, like his colleagues, are happy for Ridgeway as he begins this new journey and they know they are in good hands. Ridgeway made sure of it himself. 

 

“I worked for WPDN for seven years,” he said. “There’s a reason for that. I respect every single person in that place. I think it is a fantastic group of lawyers. They care about their clients. They’re fair in how they bill, they know the community, I’ve made many great relationships with the attorneys there and I have full confidence that the firm can continue to service my clients at the utmost level of excellence that an attorney/client relationship can have.” 

 

Ridgeway has spent many years trying to better his community. He is the President of the Healthy Birth and Infant Brains Foundation, whose mission is to improve birth outcomes for pregnant women in Wyoming. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Mercer Family Resource Center, which provides education, counseling, and prevention services for youth and families. He has done extraordinary Pro Bono work and this newest career path combines his expertise, experience, knowledge, and skillset with his heart. And that, for Ridgeway, is the literal dream job. 

 

“I feel very honored and very lucky to have this opportunity,” Ridgeway stated. “I want to take full advantage of it because I care about my community. I care about the state where I grew up and I want to do good things and work with good people to do some things that I wouldn’t have been able to do as an attorney.”  

 

WPDN will miss Kyle but they are so proud to see where this journey takes him, and they wish him nothing but the best. WPDN has known for seven years what an asset Kyle is, and they are excited for Wyoming Financial Group to find out that very same thing. 

 

Because when one door opens…

Passion. It’s not something that can be taught. It is something that is inherent, yet ineffable. And when one learns what exactly it is that they are passionate about, the world changes.

 

Ryan Ford, an attorney for Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville discovered what he was passionate about after getting his MBA from the University of Wyoming, in 2007.

 

“I was probably lost and wayward after undergrad and getting my MBA,” Ford said with a sardonic grin. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with those two degrees, and everybody that I was working for at the time was an attorney. They weren’t practicing at that time, but I really respected the way that they thought about problems.”

 

Those for whom Ryan worked left an indelible impression on him. So much so, that he opted to apply for law school. Given his previous educational accomplishments, he seemed like a shoe-in. But that’s now how this story goes.

 

“I actually applied for law school and I got put on the waitlist three separate times,” he stated. “After the third time, I finally decided that was enough. I moved to Denver to work with a private equity firm down there. I had been working with them for four or five months, and during the very last week of August, I got a phone call that said ‘Do you want to go to law school? If so, you have to be in Laramie by Thursday morning.’ They called me on a Tuesday.”

 

Many people would hang up the phone and mouth a variety of silent expletives. That’s not what Ford did.

 

“I told my bosses that I quit, and I moved back to Laramie,” he said.

 

It was a huge gamble. To quit a lucrative job with literally no notice simply to go back to school was a big risk. It required belief in himself, determination and, most importantly, passion. Ford had all three of those things, and the gamble paid off.

 

He graduated in 2010 with his Juris Doctorate. And after a brief, six-month period in Cheyenne, Ford entered the doors of Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville and never looked back.

 

“I had a friend who started here as an intern, and then an associate, six months after we graduated and passed the bar,” Ford stated. “He called me and said they were looking for another associate, so I swung in and met everybody on a weekend, and that’s the end of the story.”

 

Luckily, that’s not the case. In fact, that was just the beginning of Ford’s story with WPDN. And he chose to stay with WPDN, for almost 11 years now, because of the example the firm’s partners had laid for the rest of the attorneys.

 

“It was the demeanor of the partners that really grabbed my attention at first,” Ford stated. “I was very impressed with their knowledge of law, the experience in the room, and the understanding of balancing life. I could tell that everybody in the room was very serious about their jobs, but they were also very grounded.”

 

Work/life balance is an important aspect of WPDN. They work hard for their clients every day, but they never lose sight of the fact that they have their own lives, and their own families.

 

Ford certainly does.

 

“I moved up here when I was single and now I’ve got a wife and two little girls,” he said. “Right now, my biggest goal is to make sure that my little girls have a good childhood. We moved my parents out to Casper too. We liked Casper so much that we got them up here. I get to enjoy being a husband, dad and keep working with really good clients.”

 

Ford works with a variety of clients in a number of different industries, focusing mostly on real property law.

 

“A lot of my work centers around representing corporations, businesses, and real estate of all types, whether that’s buying or selling, titles or dealing with tax appeals,” Ford said. “I also do a lot of landlord/tenant work.”

 

Ford said that the reason he is so passionate about real estate law is because he appreciates the history behind it.

 

“I’ve always been fascinated with real property law,” he stated. “I grew up on a ranch, north of Cheyenne and just being able to go back through the records and see the history of the property, how it changed hands, why it changed hands, the fights, the conflicts, the success stories – all of it has been amazing. I just think there’s a lot of really neat history in real property.”

 

In addition to the work itself, the biggest thing Ford is passionate about is helping his clients. That is his true passion; helping people solve problems and leaving them better off than how he found them.

 

“I’m especially proud of the work that we just got done on tax appeals,” he gushed. “We had a lot of clients and all of them were scared about their tax assessments. But, for several of them, we were able to yield really good success working with the county to figure out solutions to these issues. We were able to save our clients a lot of money and we possibly even saved their property.”

 

And that’s where the passion comes from. That’s why Ford wanted to become an attorney in the first place. It’s why he applied to law school and was put on the waitlist three separate times. It’s why he dropped his entire life just for the opportunity to go to law school. Ryan Ford, like the rest of the attorneys at Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville like to help people. It’s as simple, yet profound, as that. And that is why WPDN is one of the premiere law firms in not just Wyoming, but the entire region.

 

“The knowledge of law here is unsurpassed,” Ford said. “None of our attorneys take advantage of situations. Dick Day, one of our founding partners, always said that ‘Clients are people, and it’s important that we treat them like people.’ I think that is something that has really been instilled in us. You don’t take advantage of a situation, and at the end of the day, you’re still neighbors with these people and it’s important to treat them like neighbors.”

 

That is what every attorney at WPDN does, and that’s where their passion comes from. Every day, the men and women at WPDN have the power, and honor, to change the lives of their clients. And it is not something they take lightly.

 

“There’s a thousand little victories every day,” Ford stated. “Somebody calls on the phone or drops into the office with a problem. You can look at that problem and, as long as you’re comfortable telling it to them, you can say ‘This seems daunting, but it’s not that big of a deal. We can take care of this and fix this.’ And watching their demeanor change from the first time they walk into the office, worried and afraid, to seeing them leave the office smiling and comforted – that’s what I love.”

 

But, truth be told, he loves it all. He loves the thrill of victory and the lessons learned in defeat. He loves the people with whom he works and the clients for whom he works. He loves helping people. That is Ryan Ford’s true passion. And when he got the call to drop everything he was doing to move to Laramie and go to law school, it was his passion that reassured him everything would be okay. So he took a chance on himself. And that’s something more people should do, according to Ford.

 

“Don’t be afraid to constantly ask questions,” he stated. “In work, in life, in anything. It’s amazing how many people come into my office and say ‘I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t want to do it.’ But the only way you can find any kind of resolution or get something that you’re seeking or looking for, is if you ask.”

 

That’s exactly what Ryan Ford did and the rest, as they say, is history.

READ MORE ABOUT RYAN

“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”

–Charles F. Kettering

 

Charlie Chapin knew he wanted to be an attorney since he was 8 years old. He watched his father, Don Chapin, with great admiration and knew he wanted to follow in his footsteps. He wanted to make a difference in the lives of others and provide a valuable and honorable service to the community, just as he watched his father do for many years.

 

Growing up with an attorney for a father meant time spent around dinner tables that were missing a chair, but Chapin understood how much time and devotion went towards making sure Don Chapin’s family was taken care of. In fact, Chapin said he had a very happy childhood and a wonderful home life.

 

“I grew up in Casper when it was a much smaller town,” Chapin remembered. “It was a safe place to be. Doors didn’t get locked, we were allowed to stay out and play kick-the-can until late at night, and parents didn’t worry when you were walking to school. It was a great childhood.”

 

Chapin’s parents remained happily married forever-after, and Chapin paid close attention to the type of husband, and father, the late Don Chapin was. He also paid attention to the type of attorney he was, which would serve him well in later years.

 

Chapin graduated from Natrona County High School, before attending Colorado College. He returned to Wyoming for law school, graduating from the University of Wyoming in 1981.

 

Fresh out of law school, Chapin began working his first real job. It was a good job, a good start to what would become an extremely prolific career. His first boss was somebody he could learn a lot from. Truth be told, Chapin had been learning a lot from this man his entire life.

 

It was his dad.

 

“As all lawyers start, I came in as an associate,” Chapin stated. “I drafted briefs and drafted complaints. It was kind of cool because Dad wasn’t afraid to let me work with the clients, so that was helpful.”

 

One would think that working for your father would result in some pretty lofty expectations; however, Chapin said he never felt like he was under any sort of undue pressure from his dad.

 

“I was excited to work for Dad,” he said. “He most assuredly didn’t put pressure on me; it was moreso me putting pressure on myself. But our working relationship was awesome. We probably got cross with one another only a couple of times over the term that we practiced together. But it was a great experience practicing with him and with Charlie Crowell. Between Dad and Charlie, they kind of indoctrinated me in estate work.”

 

Estate planning, along with probate law became one of Chapin’s specialties. This was especially useful in 2012, when, after 31 years, and after the death of his father, Chapin left the first and only other firm he ever practiced at, and came to work for Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville.

 

“It was an interesting opportunity,” Chapin stated. “At the time I came over, WPDN did a lot of insurance defense work and those kinds of things, but they didn’t have a transactional lawyer, per se. So that’s why I was offered the opportunity to come over.”

 

As with every WPDN attorney, Chapin said his favorite part of the job is working with, and for, his clients.

 

“First and foremost,” he said, “you’re dealing with clients – the highs and lows that they go through, the death of family members, business acquisitions, those kinds of things. I just like the interrelationship with clients, as compared to [working with] insurance adjusters and people that aren’t here.”

 

Chapin has been with WPDN for 9 years, working on a variety of cases, all with the intent of providing the best service he can for his clients.

 

“We’re just a bunch of people trying to do a good job for the public,” Chapin said. “It’s not overly-glorified. People have a misconception about professionals; that we have all the answers, or that we’re arrogant or high-handed, or a lot of other things. But we’re just people. That’s always been my view of this work. We’re all just people. We just try to do our best.”

 

More often than not, WPDN’s “best” is the best in the state because of attorneys like Chapin. In addition to estate planning and probate law, Chapin also practices in areas of estate litigation, transactional law, healthcare law, real estate, contracts, banking, and employment law. He is no longer the only transactional lawyer at WPDN, but he is one of the most respected.

 

He is also a husband and a father. Chapin and his wife have been married for 33 years and, together, they have two sons. Neither of them are attorneys.

 

“One of my sons is working on his second Master’s Degree in Philosophy and the other has a Master’s in Social Work,” Chapin beamed. “He just got done working with highly abused kids in Oregon.”

 

Chapin said he never pushed his sons into the “family business” because he wanted them to discover their own paths, as his father had allowed him to do. It’s just that his path led to WPDN.

 

“I didn’t not want them to be lawyers, but I didn’t sell it hard to them,” he said. “I wanted them to choose whatever they wanted to do, and their personalities are kind of a lot more…gentle. They’re still doing important work, it’s just a different kind of important work. I am very proud of both of them.”

 

Really, that’s all a father can hope for – that his children are doing work that means something to them, and that matters. The work Chapin does matters – to him, and, he hopes, to his clients.

 

It was because of his early years watching his father, that he realized how much his work in law really does matter.

 

“I watched the dedication he had for it and the selflessness he exhibited for the benefit of his clients,” Chapin said. “And because of that, I began to view being an attorney as being sort of a protector, somebody that stands up for their clients at times when their lives are turned upside down, explaining things to them and trying to help them through it. That’s been my goal.”

 

That perception has resulted in a long, rewarding, meaningful career. He has impacted many lives with his work, simply by doing the best that he could. Like father, like son.

 

So, if his father were still here and he could say just one thing to his son Charlie, what would it be?

 

“My father had a way of interacting with me where he would encapsulate his opinion in short sentences, and it would take you an hour or two, or sometimes days, to figure out what the hell he was saying,” Chapin said with a laugh. “My suspicion would be that he would not necessarily offer an opinion, but he would ask for my analysis. If he thought I was misperceiving or overstating things, or if my analysis was flawed, he’d point certain things out and tell me to think about it a little more. But, more than anything, he would just tell me there are good times and bad times in life. Some days, you’re at the top of your game and some days you’re not. But the most important thing is to just keep moving and do your best.”

 

For 30 years, that is exactly what Charlie Chapin has done.

 

READ MORE ABOUT CHARLIE

Perception vs reality. It’s a common struggle for many people throughout life. You hope/wish/pray something is one way and, in reality, it’s something completely different. A police officer may think that his job will mostly consist of arresting all the bad guys and delivering quick, tongue-in-cheek one-liners before solving the murder of the girl next door. In reality, the job is a lot of sitting, waiting, and filling out paperwork.

 

Many teachers go into their jobs with a dream of students standing on top of their desks and reciting ‘Oh Captain, my captain.” In reality, being a teacher consists of buying your own classroom supplies and going to meetings that could be Emails.

 

And, for lawyers, the perception in many cases is that, in the final hour, they’ll present a piece of evidence that will save a man’s life, just like Atticus Finch did in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

 

In reality, well, it goes something like this:

 

Ryan Schwartz was born in Laramie, Wyoming, and spent his formative years in Southeastern Wyoming, between Laramie, Cheyenne, Torrington, etc. In 8th grade, Schwartz’s dad got a job offer and moved his family to Battle Creek Michigan, the cereal capital of the world. It was the city built on Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

 

After he graduated high school, Schwartz was offered the chance to go to the University of Michigan but passed on it in order to return “home” to Wyoming.

 

“I chose Wyoming over the University of Michigan just because I love Wyoming; the people and the open spaces,” he said. “That’s why I came back here to go to law school.”

 

Law school was something that Schwartz had always planned on attending, even when he was a little boy.

 

“My dad tells me that from a very young age, like kindergarten or elementary school, for some reason I always said that I wanted to be a lawyer,” Schwartz revealed. “I’m sure at that point, and probably even up through the point when I graduated college and decided to go to law school, I didn’t really understand what ‘being a lawyer’ actually meant. It sounded really cool and had some security, financial and otherwise, associated with it. It seemed to be a respected position and it was a way to help other people. So, for some reason, I always wanted to be a lawyer, but never knew what I was getting into until I actually began practicing.”

 

After beginning law school, Schwartz became the President of his fraternity, Delta Theta Phi. Typically, when one thinks of a “frat boy,” they imagine kegs, toga parties and much scandal. Well, again, reality differs from perception.

 

“I was in a fraternity at UW,” Schwartz revealed. “But this was a legal fraternity. Law school is a bit less rowdy than undergrad, so it was mostly meetings and meeting members of the fraternity that were already lawyers and making those connections. So, not quite the wild frat life that others had.”

 

That was probably for the best, as Schwartz wasn’t distracted by anything nefarious, so he could instead concentrate on passing the bar exam, which he did in 2002. Shortly after passing the bar, he took a job with Hathaway and Kunz, P.C..

 

“The firm that I started working at was headed by Stanley Hathaway, the former governor of Wyoming and a very highly respected gentleman who also served in Washington D.C. in a number of posts for various presidents over the years,” Schwartz stated. “I learned a lot about the law from Governor Hathaway, but I probably learned even more about being a good person. Hathaway was one of my very early mentors and he was a very stand-up human being, a very good guy. He showed me the human side of law; that it’s not just some case you’re working on – there are clients whose lives are at stake in one way or another. He was always very good at making connections with his clients. That was something I really took away from my time with Governor Hathaway.”

 

The lessons that he took from his time at Hathaway and Kunz were lessons that he brought with him to Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville when he joined the firm as an associate in 2006.

 

“Craig Silva actually told me I should come work for WPDN,” Schwartz stated. “When I started, I immediately realized there was a very large cast of characters that work here, and the one underlying theme is that everyone really cares about doing a good job. They’re not just trying to make money and do well as a business; they’re trying to do the right things, take care of our clients, and provide a good quality service at a fair price.”

 

Schwartz’ biggest areas of interest, in terms of practice, revolve around construction litigation, and trucking litigation but, he says, he dabbles in most everything when called upon to do so. Construction is his biggest passion, however, because his family worked in construction for many years. His grandfather even built his family’s home in Laramie from the ground up.

 

“I do have an actual background to understand what my construction clients are doing, and have done, and what the complaints are, and that experience has helped me understand my clients’ business, which is vital to effective representation,” he said.

 

In addition to his work at WPDN, Schwartz is also an active member of USLAW and the Wyoming State Bar. He is also a past President of the Natrona County Bar Association. Schwartz and his wife, Melissa, have been married for 20 years and he said they enjoy spoiling their nieces, nephews and cousins and are happy to give them back to their parents afterwards. More than anything, Schwartz says he loves Wyoming, which is a big reason why he has stayed here for the past 14 years. He and his wife have a cabin by the lake, and they enjoy wakeboarding and waterskiing and enjoying the natural beauty that comes with Wyoming summers. The beauty of Wyoming is one instance in which the perception and reality tend to line up.

 

His actual career, on the other hand. Well…

 

“You know, you have this perception coming into the job that there’s going to be a lot of these big, Perry Mason moments in a courtroom where the entire audience gasps and the court hands down an immediate ruling in your favor because you just landed the perfect evidentiary point and you get that immediate gratification that you see on TV,” Schwartz laughed. “It’s really easy to go start to finish in an hour-long TV episode but, in reality, we could be working on these cases for years, sometimes even decades. I’ve got a case that’s probably 20 years old that I still work on occasionally. It’s not about that immediate satisfaction that you see all the time on TV. It takes a lot more time and effort involved to get to the finish line and, oftentimes, it’s not a clear-cut winner one way or the other.”

 

Still, Schwartz says he wouldn’t change a thing about his career, nor the people with whom he works. But, if given the chance, Schwartz would absolutely give his younger self a bit of advice.

 

“Hindsight’s always 20/20,” he said. “But I would maybe suggest to younger Ryan that he look into this job a little bit more before he jumped. I had a perception of what this would be, and the reality is quite a bit different. But again, I enjoy the heck out of this job, and I wouldn’t change courses. I would just maybe tell my younger self to look into some other things before going full-bore into law.”

 

A law career can consume you if you’re not careful. Luckily, Schwartz loves what he does and where he does it. Perception is different than reality in most cases, but for Schwartz, his reality is this:

 

“Being a lawyer was absolutely nothing like I thought it was going to be or what I envisioned it would be but, nonetheless, it’s turned out to be a very rewarding career. Something I enjoy very much is being able to help people and getting that result or that outcome that clients, at the beginning, weren’t sure they were going to be able to get. Helping people is really my focus.”

 

And for Ryan Schwartz, helping people on a daily basis is very much his reality.

READ MORE ABOUT RYAN

WPDN might have always been in the back of her mind, but it took Kristie Whittle a while to figure out exactly what it was she actually wanted to do with her professional life.

 

“I was always interested in the field of law”, Whittle revealed. “I wasn’t quite sure that I wanted to go all the way and be a lawyer, so I was exploring other options like probation and parole or criminal justice. I even considered being a teacher for a time. So I bounced around a lot, but I kept coming back to the areas in the legal field.“

 

Whittle worked a variety of jobs while she was enrolled in Casper College, mainly as a secretary at different medical practices. She eventually received her Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies, which landed her a job with a different law practice in town that focused primarily on family law and guardianships. She was a paralegal for that firm for 10 years and, in that time, she learned a lot about the various aspects of the legal field. Her experience with that job, as well as her degree, eventually led to a job at Williams Porter Day and Neville.

 

She started as a legal secretary for Steve Emery and Jason Neville and worked in that position for 5 years. Eventually, Whittle decided she wanted her job to utilize more of the skills she learned in her paralegal studies, but WPDN requires all of their paralegals to be certified. This means taking classes, studying for and passing the certification test.

 

“I did the work and eventually got my certification,” Whittle stated. “Then it was just a matter of waiting for the right time and the right opportunity to start as a paralegal here.”

 

Finding the right time took some, well, time. While waiting for a paralegal position to open up, Whittle familiarized herself with the ins and outs of the firm and was able to witness firsthand, how things were done at WPDN. Finally in October 2019, a paralegal position opened up for attorneys Scott Ortiz and David Shield and Whittle applied.

 

She was hired immediately.

 

“I think starting as a legal secretary and working my way up has helped me to be a well-rounded paralegal at this firm,” Whittle shared. “The attorneys at WPDN are always willing to teach. Scott [Ortiz] told me that I should never be afraid to ask questions and that there are no stupid questions. It’s nice to have that kind of backup because coming from a firm with just one attorney to a firm like this was a little overwhelming at first. But everybody has made me feel like part of the family. And I truly believe, honestly, that the attorneys at WPDN are the best. They have the best interest of their clients in mind and at heart at all times. It’s not about the money, it’s about getting the best outcome for their clients. Whether it’s an insurance case, a family law case, or something else, entirely; our attorneys put a hundred percent into what they do, every day. They’re hard workers, and they expect us to work hard, too.”

 

She continued, saying that she was “super thankful that David and Scott gave me this opportunity, and I’ve learned a lot in the year that I have been working for them. I know I still have a lot to learn and they have both been great about teaching me.”

 

Next on her bucket list is going to trial.

 

“Although I haven’t gone to trial yet at WPDN,” Whittle said, “I know that my job during those times is vital and I really look forward to when I get to go to my first trial. Part of what is so cool about our job is being able to be a part of the case from the beginning to the very end.”

 

But Whittle’s track record proves she is patient. Until her first trial, she will continue to refine her skills and learn as much as she can from others at WPDN.

 

思いやりは道徳の基礎で

(Compassion is the basis of morality)

                                                           -Ancient Japanese Proverb

 

Spending time in another country is one of the best things a person can do. It opens them up to new ideas, new cultures, and new ways of thinking. It allows the mind to broaden. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes, but in that uncomfortableness, there is awakening.

 

That was something that WPDN attorney Scott Klosterman found out first-hand after he graduated high school.

 

Klosterman was always a good student. He was especially studious in school and he has always loved learning new things. That thirst for knowledge led Scott to various advanced placement classes throughout high school and it ingrained a love for learning that he still carries with him to this day. It was also during high school that Klosterman found himself participating in a job shadowing exercise where he was able to follow around a lawyer for the day. That was the day he realized that he wanted to be an attorney.

 

Klosterman’s road to WPDN began then, but it took a major detour during his college years. While growing up in Minnesota he attended Gustavus Adolphus College, a liberal arts school, where he studied Japanese and received a degree in international management, which worked as something of a catalyst to the next chapter in his life.

 

“I moved to Osaka, Japan where I studied at Kansai Gaidai University,” Klosterman recounted. “I then went to work as an interpreter for a while before I went to law school. I had taken foreign languages in high school, like Spanish and some French, and I didn’t really find that they piqued my interest very much. With Japanese, I was really attracted to and interested in the writing styles and the different kinds of characters that they use.”

 

It wasn’t just the language that interested Klosterman, however. It was the entire way of life in Japan-how people interacted with each other, the way they treated one another.

 

“One of the things that I took away from living in Japan is that they are compassionate toward others and non-confrontational,” he said. “In their system of justice, it’s very rare that people sue one another. For example, if there is an accident where someone runs into somebody else and is injured, [the Japanese] typically don’t file lawsuits. Rather, they do things to try and take care of the person that’s been injured such as visiting and staying with them in the hospital or bringing something to their family while the person is recovering.”

 

In other words, the Japanese have a very different way of doing things, compared to some of their American counterparts. More often than not, they treat each other with respect, grace, and kindness. They treat each other right.

 

“Having compassion and understanding for others,” he continued, “is something that I’ve tried to adopt in my life and legal practice. I work hard to understand both sides of the coin and be compassionate to all parties involved. Although [at WPDN] we zealously advocate for our clients, I think being a good lawyer is also about trying to understand the other side’s story and to understand where they are coming from.”

 

In the world of cutthroat litigation, compassion may be a dirty word to some. But for Scott Klosterman, it’s the basis of his entire practice- a practice that he started in 1996 when he graduated with his law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law.

 

“While I was in law school, there were different clinics that students could participate in,” Klosterman remembered. “One of the clinics that I participated in was called the Defender Aid Program, which provides legal assistance to people in the criminal justice system. While I was doing that, I was working with the public defender’s office in Cheyenne and just getting my feet wet in the world of litigation and trial work.”

 

After graduating from law school, Klosterman worked for the public defender’s office in Cheyenne before moving to Casper in 1997, where he began working at the law firm of Brown, Drew, Massey, and Sullivan.

 

It was there that he began his career in civil litigation.

 

“It was a fantastic experience,” Klosterman stated. “The mentoring that I received from former Wyoming Governor Mike Sullivan, Jeff Brinkerhoff, and other attorneys that worked there was great. They taught me a lot about not only being a good lawyer but also about being a good person, a good father, and a good community member; all of which those men exemplified.”

 

Klosterman worked for Brown, Drew, Massey, and Sullivan for close to four-and-a-half years, and then, in 2001, he started working at Williams, Porter, Day and Neville. It was a move that made sense; the qualities and characteristics that Klosterman valued are the same ones valued by WPDN.

 

“I think the reason WPDN is considered one of the most respected firms in the state is because of the fact that we bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from different backgrounds and perspectives together and, as a team, we use that to effectively advocate for our clients,” he said. “Whether it’s researching, writing or trying cases, we’re all in the same boat, rowing together.”

 

The attorneys at WPDN are, metaphorically, in the same boat. But each has his or her own special area(s) of practice and, for Klosterman, those primary areas involve professional malpractice, oil and gas litigation, and insurance defense.

 

“One aspect of being an attorney that I pride myself on is being a good researcher and a good writer,” he said. “I enjoy being a student of the law and, with this job, I learn something new every single day. Each case presents a different set of facts and legal issues that must be considered and evaluated. It is this variety that really piqued my interest in pursuing a legal career and what continues to keep me motivated each day.”

 

Klosterman has been with Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville for 19 years and a big reason he has stayed with the firm for so long is because they practice the same compassion, kindness, and respect that he learned so much about in Japan. His values, and the values of WPDN as a whole, are evident in every case they try and every client they serve.

 

“We just want to do things right,” he emphatically stated. “And we’ll do whatever it takes to do it right. Whether that means making sure we research and cite the correct law for the court to consider and apply, to acting professional and courteous to everyone involved in the case. And when I say just doing it right, that also encompasses doing what’s right for the community, state, and profession- to serving and being active in community and state, mentoring younger people as well as attorneys starting their legal careers. We want to be caring, we want to be compassionate and we want to make sure that we’re doing things right. And hopefully, that idea is personified in how we present ourselves, whether it’s in court or out in the community. We want to do it right.”

 

WPDN has been doing it right for more than 70 years and the respect they have built within the community and beyond is proof of that. Years ago, Klosterman traveled to the land of the rising sun and he saw people “doing it right.” And now, years later, he is committed to ensuring that he, himself, as well as the firm of which he is a part, are just as committed to doing it right.

READ MORE ABOUT SCOTT

“Earlier this year, your firm assisted my family with a family matter. I wanted to drop you this quick note to let you know how pleased we were with the service that your firm, and you specifically, provided us. We live out of state, so we had to trust that a local Casper firm would serve us well, and you exceeded our expectations. You were extremely professional, approachable, and efficient at all times. I know how infrequently clients may say thank you, so I wanted you to know that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Williams, Porter, Day & Neville to others with a similar need for legal assistance.”

-Letter from an actual WPDN client

 

When Steve Emery was a young man, fresh out of law school, he joined the Navy and offered his newly-acquired skills to the JAG Corps. It was there, in the Navy, that Emery first began practicing family law- an area that focuses primarily on divorce proceedings, custody arrangements and disputes, prenuptial agreements, and more. It was the first aspect of the law that Emery really fell in love with and that love was something he carried with him throughout his career.

 

“When I was in the Navy, I practiced family law and because of the direct client contact, it was really gratifying,” Emery said. “I joined the JAG Corps right out of law school and I was doing legal assistance for sailors and marines and it really taught me a lot. You learn very quickly when you’re dealing with peoples’ real problems. For many years, the majority of my practice has been litigation but, back then, I was working with people who had very personal types of problems, and helping those folks through those kinds of problems was very satisfying for me. You get a tangible kind of result a lot quicker than you would with litigation and practicing family law back then really left a good taste in my mouth.”

 

When Emery joined Williams, Porter, Day and Neville in 1990, it was a vastly different firm than it is today. Focusing mostly on tort and commercial law, WPDN was still in its formative stages at that point. As the years progressed, WPDN got bigger and bigger, acquiring some of the state’s best attorneys and paralegals while also adding many other points of practice. To date, WPDN has more than ten areas of practice, all of which serve the community in a myriad of ways.

 

One of the areas of practice that is moving to the forefront of their services is family law. Family is the most important thing to just about everybody, and when legal matters arise, it can be complicated and overwhelming. WPDN attorneys provide much needed counseling and representation during these times. They have successfully guided their clients through divorces, child custody disputes, child support, and visitation matters, as well as adoptions, guardianships, and conservatorships. For Steve Emery, this is a chance to rekindle a love he’s had since graduating from law school, and he relishes the opportunity to help families throughout Natrona County.

 

“WPDN has identified a need in the community for family law services so, as a strategy, we’ve decided to grow that part of our practice,” Emery stated. “For me, personally, I started doing family law work when I first became a lawyer. I was serving as a judge advocate in the United States Navy and family law was part of my daily duties and I really enjoyed doing it.”

 

Emery said that WPDN has been expanding its practice to include more family law cases for the past 5 years. Emery was one of the first attorneys to volunteer to take on more family law cases, and he was joined by other extremely talented lawyers like Zara Mason, Amy Iberlin, Craig Silva, and Erica Day- all of whom have the skills and the desire to take overwhelming, volatile situations and, hopefully, make them a little bit easier to handle for all parties involved. And that’s why Emery and his peers became attorneys in the first place- to help people. To be a voice for the voiceless. To change and, in some cases, save lives.

 

Earlier this year, Emery had the opportunity to do just that.

 

“Something I did recently that really energized me happened back in early March,” Emery remembered. “I volunteered as part of a pro bono program in Natrona County, and I was able to go to the courthouse and sit there one afternoon and counsel folks that normally don’t have the means to hire an attorney. And most of the questions I was asked were related to domestic relations. And it was very cool and very gratifying to be able to give back and to help some of the underprivileged in Natrona County. It was also further proof that family law should be a major point of our practice.”

 

And so it has become.

 

In addition to the multitude of services that WPDN offers, they are expanding their services and focusing even more of their practice on family law. The attorneys at Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville always have the interests of the community on their minds and on their hearts, and their expansion to include even more family law cases is a prime example of that.

 

“WPDN has the best lawyers in the state of Wyoming,” Emery touted. “Particularly, we have the best litigators and we are now devoting our litigation prowess and experience to this different field of law. Instead of just doing tort law, now we’re devoting time to family law litigation. I think we’re very well positioned within our community in particular, and the state in general, to represent the people of Wyoming in family law matters, just as we do in other types of cases throughout Wyoming and beyond.”

READ MORE ABOUT STEVE

It started in ninth grade. Kristi Fields, a paralegal for Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville, fell in love with the law in ninth grade and she hasn’t looked back since. Growing up, Fields was like most other kids when it came to future careers. She wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. It was a pipe dream, born out of childhood naivety and the desire to appease parents with high expectations. But when Kristi Fields was 15 years old, something funny happened and it shaped her future without her even realizing it. 

 

“I was in ninth grade Social Studies, in Mr. Zaharas’ class,” Fields remembered. “During the semester, we learned about World War II, and the atomic bomb and Iwo Jima and things like that. We learned all about that and then we were assigned a project which required us to basically create a trial over the charges against the United States. The U.S. would be the defendant against the Axis.” 

 

Though history was on her side, it was still an intriguing, exciting challenge for her to defend America and its decisions. 

 

“I was tasked with being the defense attorney for the United States,” she continued. “And at the time, I was like ‘gosh, how do you defend America dropping an atomic bomb?’ I was challenged with that and had to come up with a good strategy to defend it. And though the jury was tainted by, you know, history, it was really fun to try and defend the U.S. It was interesting for me to look at different facts and how they could be perceived by a jury of 12.”

 

It was a fun assignment; one that almost all of us have probably had to do some variation in high school. But for Fields, it was more than just an assignment or a way out of reading a textbook. For her, it was the beginning of the rest of her life. 

 

Following high school, Fields attended Casper College and was a pre-law business major, but she was torn between wanting to be an attorney and wanting to start a family. 

 

Right around the time she was discovering her love for the world of law, she was also discovering a different kind of love. 

 

“I was working at the old Safeway on CY, and I met the man who would be my husband there,” she stated. “We were both working as courtesy clerks at the time and we started talking and found out that we both went to NC [Natrona County High School]. So we had that in common and everything else just kind of came from that.”

 

It’s a classic tale – high school sweethearts meeting at the local grocery store. You can’t write love stories like that, so it makes sense that Fields wouldn’t want to put her relationship on hold to embark on the sometimes-18-hour-days that most attorneys end up working for a period of time. 

 

“I was kind of stuck between starting a family and having a profession, so becoming a paralegal was sort of a happy medium,” she said. “I was taking a paralegal studies course as an elective. It was in family law and that’s where I met Mary Kubichek.” 

 

Kubichek is a professor of law at Casper College and many current attorneys are quick to credit her as a big reason why they are practicing law. She not only taught the basics (and not-so-basics) of law; she instilled a love of law into many of her students. Fields was one of them.

 

“I took one of Mary’s courses and just kind of fell in love with the way she did things,” Fields stated. “I started working as a runner at a collections law firm and worked my way up. Then, Mary told me about an open position at a law firm called Murane & Bostwick, LLC and I was hired there in 2008. I started as a secretary and less than a month later I became a paralegal for Roger Shumate.”

 

Fields became a pre-certified paralegal for Murane & Bostwick and worked primarily in personal injury, car accidents, insurance cases, and more. While working there, she got certified as a paralegal and received advanced certifications in personal injury-automobile accidents and discovery. Typically she would work on the defense side of things, which was great preparation for her next big step- working for WPDN.

Fields started at Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville in 2018 and, in that time, she has worked on a variety of cases, for multiple attorneys. 

 

“Coming to WPDN, I’ve been able to expand my horizons, so to speak,” she said. “WPDN is one of the largest firms in Wyoming and we’re very diversified in what we do and in what we take on. When I started with WPDN, I was working with Jason Neville. He actually left the firm shortly after I started, about 4 months later and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?’ But when he left, he took his full-time paralegal with him, which opened up a full-time position here which, fortunately, I got. And now I work with multiple attorneys, like Stuart Day, Ryan Schwartz, Amy Iberlin, Keith Dodson, and more.”

 

The paralegals at WPDN all work with, and for, all of the attorneys. They work hand-in-hand as a team, which is one of the reasons WPDN has become one of the most well-respected law firms in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. 

 

“WPDN is a proud Wyoming firm. We are Wyoming’s firm. I take that to heart, and I try to represent WPDN, and Wyoming, as best I can. Every case is different. Every client is different and all of the challenges that come with a case are different. Some cases are headaches, some aren’t but we’re still learning something. And I think that’s actually really cool. I was telling my children that the other day- we’re all learning, and you don’t have to go to school to learn something.” 

 

You may not need to go to school to learn, but Fields is quick to say that without school or, more specifically, without the teachers she had, she may not have ended up in the field that she is in. The impact teachers have on students at any age cannot be overstated and Fields, herself, is proof of that. 

 

“Good teachers are paramount, to be honest with you,” Fields stated. “These people affect our lives so much by even the littlest things. I can still remember writing notes to my first-grade teacher and there was a bond I shared with my fifth and sixth-grade teacher. Having teachers invest in me shaped me in so many different ways; not only in education but in my social life as well.” 

 

Two teachers, in particular, shaped more than just Kristi Fields’ education and social life; they shaped her entire future. And that’s the point of teachers, isn’t it? To help young people discover their skills and start them on the path that leads to the rest of their lives. That’s what happened with Kristi Fields and WPDN is lucky that one day, all those years ago, a teacher gave her an assignment that would change her life. 

“Count on me.”

       – Lou Holtz, University of Notre Dame Head Coach

“Do great work at a fair price.”

        – Houston Williams, Founding Partner of WPDN

 

The law firm that would one day be known as Williams, Porter, Day and Neville started out as Wehrli  & Associates, a firm started by its namesake, Bill Wehrli, in 1936. Wehrli, a  Casper native, was an excellent trial lawyer, specializing in business law and insurance law. Wehrli & Associates operated under that name from 1936 until 1955. At that time Houston Williams became a partner and from 1955 to 1979 the firm was known as Wehrli and Williams. During that time, George Porter, Dick Day, and Frank Neville joined the firm and this became the foundation upon which WPDN was ultimately built. Part of that foundation, according to Houston

Williams was becoming a firm that delivered excellent legal work, at a fair price.” That was one of the very first mission statements of what would ultimately become WPDN, and it is a mantra that still holds true to this day.

When Bill Wehrli passed away in November of 1979, after a long and successful career, Houston Williams and his fellow partners decided to change the name of the firm to reflect the current leadership, while maintaining the integrity, professionalism, and work ethic that Werhli so firmly established in Casper. Four men, Houston Williams, George Porter, Dick Day, and Frank Neville became partners and WPDN was born.

The roots of WPDN were established more than 70 years ago, but it was in the winter of 1979 that WPDN really began to build its reputation as one of the most respected and admired law firms in Wyoming and beyond. Shortly after WPDN opened (or reopened) its doors, Patrick Murphy joined the firm as an associate and, in the 40 years he has been there, he has become as much of an institution as any of the name partners. The team that was first created back in ’79- Houston Williams, George Porter, Dick Day, Frank Neville, and Pat Murphy- set the precedent for what the firm would look like in the years to come.

WPDN is a full-service law firm, with various areas of expertise. WPDN specializes in oil & gas law, commercial law, construction law & design, employment & labor law, healthcare law, energy/environmental law, insurance & risk management, transportation & logistics, family law, estate planning, wealth security & elder law, and more. Throughout their 70 years of experience, the attorneys at WPDN have been a part of many landmark cases and decisions, including over 200 Wyoming  Supreme Court decisions and numerous 10th Circuit Court decisions. WPDN lawyers have practiced in every courthouse in the state of Wyoming and they have indelibly left their mark in every courtroom as well. Because of their unparalleled expertise and the reputation, they have built one of Wyomings top clientcentered law firms, WPDN has been honored by its inclusion in numerous prestigious organizations, such as the American College of Trial Lawyers, and USLAW.

Frank Neville and Scott Ortiz are the attorneys who represent WPDN in the American College of Trial Lawyers. This is a distinction given only to the very best-of-the-best attorneys; those who have tried and won numerous cases and shown exemplary professionalism in every aspect of being a trial lawyer. Likewise, USLAW is an invite-only networking provider. USLAW appoints one firm from every state to represent their state in this nation-wide network. Members of USLAW interact with each other, consult each other on cases, attend various conferences and symposiums, and network with each other as much as possible. Per their website, “USLAW is comprised of highlyrated law firms that are part of the NETWORK by invitation only. Member firms undergo a rigorous review process to ensure outstanding quality of lawyers throughout the USLAW NETWORK. USLAW firms are experienced in commercial and business law, employment and labor law, litigation, and other business-related areas of law. All firms have substantial trial experience. USLAW member firms provide legal representation to major corporations, insurance companies, and large and small businesses alike.”

WPDN’s inclusion in these organizations and many others are indicative of a commitment to excellence and dedication to their wide array of clients. When Scott Ortiz began working with WPDN in 1991, he brought with him a passion to serve the community both inside and outside of the courtroom. That passion is shared by all who work at WPDN, which has led to its inclusion in a variety of local and national organizations, such as the American Bar Association, the Wyoming State Bar, the International Association of Defense Counsel, the USTA Constitution & Rules Committee, and the Defense Research Institute. The staff of WPDN also gives their time and money to a variety of charitable organizations, including CASA of Natrona County, the Casper Rotary Club, Casper American Legion Baseball, the Mercer House Family Resource Center, and many more. Every associate and paralegal who joins WPDN does so with the passion and desire to better their community both in the jobs they perform and the examples they set.

Though the support staff, WPDN has grown from two to four to seven to, now, more than twentyfive people, it still remains a family type of environment. The staff of WPDN takes care of each other, whether its a paralegal working for multiple attorneys or the attorneys themselves taking on work for their peers. WPDN associates are more than just colleagues, and the people for whom they work are more than just clients. WPDN is a family, and thats exactly what Bill Wehrli envisioned when he started his firm 70 years ago.

“My favorite coach of all time is Coach Lou Holtz from the University of Notre Dame,” said Patrick Murphy, who has been with WPDN since 1979. “He would always tell his teammates to ‘Count on me. Count on me to do the right thing. Count on me to help you. Count on me to do the very best that I can.’ Our entire firm is summed up with that- count on me. I can go to anyone of my partners and I can tell them to count on me’ and they will count on me and they can come to me, even silently, and say, ‘Pat, count on me.’ Thats what we are to one another. And thats what we try to be to our clients. Count on me to do a good job, to be honest, to guide you, and treat you fairly.”

“In short, count on us to do excellent legal work at a fair price.”

For the past 70 years, that is exactly what WPDN has done.

.