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.