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Influential Attorney- Lisa Krigsten


lisa-krigstenWhen there’s a crisis brewing, many corporate executives and board members know who they can call: Lisa Krigsten at Dentons.

Krigsten specializes in representing corporations in criminal and civil litigation matters through the firm’s white collar and government investigations practice. That means when government agents show up to a company with a warrant, Krigsten is who companies want on their side, which also happens to be where Krigsten wants to be.

“I really enjoy being with clients and helping clients navigate through those situations,” she said. “The stakes are very high and there’s great opportunity often to not only get through that situation and make it less of a crisis, but also to find ways to make the situation better.”

Krigsten became attracted to the law in elementary school, inspired by its emphasis on problem-solving. After graduating from the University of Iowa College of Law, Krigsten went to work solving problems as a state prosecutor and then as federal prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice.

President George W. Bush appointed Krigsten as principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights. Even though she was based in Washington, D.C., Krigsten handled civil rights cases from coast to coast, including that of a Georgia sheriff who was accused of mistreating African-American residents.

Krigsten drove around the area’s farm fields and sat on porches, talking to residents about whether they were willing to testify at the trial against the sheriff. Ultimately, many did and Krigsten led a successful prosecution against the sheriff for misusing his power.

“That case I often think back to because it changed a community,” Krigsten said.

While working for the federal government, she also helped shaped several pieces of civil rights legislation and amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was good training for her work with Dentons, but the jump from government to private sector still brought up some differences.

“When you work for the government there are lots of layers of decision-making and you can be one voice in that,” Krigsten said. “But when you represent clients, it’s you and it’s the client sitting down together, creating a strategy to solve the problem and then executing it. It’s a lot more immediate. There’s a lot more opportunity to actually engage with someone and come up with strategy and vision to solve a particular issue.”

Since joining the firm’s Kansas City office, Krigsten has often gone up against agencies she used to work for. Instead of executing the search warrant, she counsels clients on what to do when they get one.

“There’s a parallel with what I did with government and what I do now,” Krigsten said. “I’m helping people who feel as though an injustice has occurred… They feel as if their point of view has not been heard and I’m helping them get their point of view across.”

In one case in New Jersey, Krigsten counseled a company that was under investigation by multiple state and federal agencies. The stakes were high, including 600 jobs. Thinking of those workers and their families kept her going.

“I really did think when I left the government that I would not find that same level of satisfaction in my daily work,” Krigsten said. “I’m pleasantly surprised all these years later that I wake up with the same sense of excitement every morning. If I get to do what I’m doing right now for rest of my career, I would consider myself very, very fortunate and consider it a great career.”