Crystal Saling is the rare attorney who became an in-house counsel straight out of law school.
In fact, her position at The Doe Run Resources Corp. is the reason she is a practicing attorney.
Saling had always wanted to be a lawyer, but when she attended the University of Missouri School of Law, she said she felt disconnected and ultimately left. Suing companies for money, she decided, wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life.
Saling stuck with the legal community, however, working as a legal assistant for a small firm in Columbia.
“It was working with people and families that were in the community,” she said. “I felt like I was doing something good.”
She went on to work for a litigation firm in California and, in 2008, gave law school a second try, this time at Saint Louis University School of Law. Her original plan was to do estate planning and probate work, but upon graduation in 2011 she once again had second thoughts about practicing. Then she got a call from a recruiter for a temporary job as a paralegal at The Doe Run Resources Corp., which traces its roots to the St. Joseph Lead Company, founded during the Civil War to mine Missouri’s rich lead deposits.
Saling gave the job a chance, even though at the time she knew little about mining or its place in Missouri’s economy.
“My daughter was 12 weeks old, so I wasn’t working at the time and decided to take it,” she said. “Within a few weeks, the general counsel started suggesting that I take the bar and practice at Doe Run. I decided to do it, and Doe Run hired me as an attorney. It was an incredible opportunity, and I’m glad I took it.” She got her law license in 2013.
Saling’s practice now encompasses everything from employment, workers’ compensation and real estate matters to complex litigation defense. She said the job gives her the chance to work with top-notch outside lawyers and executives at the company. She speaks with obvious pride about the company’s work.
“I’m not only defending this company, but I’m protecting 1,300 jobs in Missouri,” she said.
She’s happy to be at a company she says feels like a home.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say they regretted going in-house,” she said. “We don’t search for clients or round up business for ourselves and we don’t track our days in six-minute increments. I have one client. That client really matters to me and I’m completely focused on that one client.”