On April 19th, 1995, I was living in Oklahoma City, attending a local community college with plans of eventually going to law school, and working as an assistant manager at a local bookstore. That morning on my way to work, I heard and felt a huge explosion and saw the smoke billowing up from downtown. It took much of the day until the local news reported that the explosion was a bomb. The bomber was an American and he had set off the bomb because he was angry at the government. He was aiming for the offices of the FBI, but because they had recently moved out of the building all he succeeded in doing was killing and injuring children in a daycare and people who worked for the Social Security Administration. It was reported that he was aware the building had a daycare in it, but he set off the bomb anyway.
Desperate to help in any way I could, I left work early that day and went to the Red Cross site downtown to donate money, bottled water and blood. The line to do so was so long, they were turning people away and telling them to go home. I returned every day the next several days. Every day I was sent home because they had too much help. I learned two very two very different things in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing. I learned that people are capable of doing terrible and unfair things to each other for no good reason, and I learned that people are also capable of doing amazing things to help each other for no other reason than simply because it is the right thing to do. These are life lessons that I will never forget.
Fast forward and I am graduating from St. Louis University Law School. My plan after graduation is to get a job in public service. I want to be a prosecutor and protect the community. I get close to obtaining the job I want several times, but am ultimately not able to get a prosecutor’s job. The job market is difficult at the time I have graduated so I am beyond grateful when I get a job working for a small insurance defense firm. Even better, the employees and attorneys at the firm turn out to be a wonderful group of people who I work with for the next 7 years. They teach me how to actually be a lawyer, and how to treat this line of work as a profession and not just a job.
But ultimately, the job itself is not the best fit for me. Trying to serve the needs of my clients along with the needs and wants of their insurance companies was challenging to say the least. The insurance companies only cared about one thing and that was saving as much money as they could on claims that were filed against their clients. Even if that goal often did not serve the best interests of their insured’s, money was always their main concern. I did all I could to work within this system to get a fair result for my clients every time, but often felt hamstrung by all the masters I had to serve. When my small firm merged with a big firm, I was pregnant with my son Ethan, and I knew that it was time to make a change.
I was then lucky enough to be able to take some time off to stay home with my son. But when he entered Kindergarten, I knew it was time to return to my career, but I needed to find a job that allowed me to really help people. That was what had been missing from my previous job. When I started looking I came across a job with the Finney Law Office. They were looking for someone to write legal articles for them I applied and got the job figuring it was a great opportunity to sharpen my rusty legal writing skills. Then they called me and asked me if I wanted to work for them as a contract attorney on a large series of cases in which they were up against a big insurance defense firm who was inundating them with, motions, paperwork, and other delay tactics. I jumped on the offer. During those first few months while working on these cases with Dan Finney, Jr. I saw what this law firm is really all about. Helping people in our community who have been hurt because of the careless or bad actions of others and helping juries to put rules and consequences in place so that the bad behavior stops. Finally, I had a job where I was really helping people.
When Dan offered me a permanent position with the firm, it was a no brainer for me. As he gave me a firm t-shirt, I turned it over and saw the firm’s motto, “Protecting the Community, One Case at a Time.” And that is what I do here, because it is the right thing to do. Every day I am reminded of the life lessons that I learned on April 19th, 1995 in Oklahoma City. When a case comes in I see the terrible things that people can do to each other for no good reason at all. But when we take a case, I get to be one of the people in our office that helps to try to right that wrong in a very small way and help to make everyone that lives in my community a little safer. I cannot think of a better way to help people, which is what I always really wanted to do with my law degree. We look forward to each potential client that calls in as an opportunity for our firm to apply our motto, help real people, and protect the community. One case at a time.
- St. Louis University School of Law, Juris Doctorate – 2002
- Graduated in the top 25% of the class
- Member of the St. Louis University Trial Advocacy Team – 2000-2002 – Midwest Regional Trial Advocacy Competition Semifinalist
- University of Missouri St. Louis, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, graduated Summa Cum Laude – 1999
- Oklahoma City Community College, Associates Degree in Political Science and Pre-Law – 1999