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Home / Unsung Heroes 2018 / Unsung Heroes 2018- Paralegal
  • Krista L. Adey
  • Sarah Czeschin
  • Kate Feigenbutz
  • Twyla R. Gause
  • Carole Hillis
  • Melissa Miller
  • Erin Nolan
  • Brian Pierce
  • Darren S. Thomas

adey-kristaParalegal

Rasmussen Dickey Moore

Krista Adey developed a curiosity for the law at a young age, went on to study it in college and then decided to make it her career. She has landed at Rasmussen Dickey Moore. An avid swimmer and home-remodeling enthusiast in her spare time, Adey enjoys the opportunity to learn new things while assisting with the firm’s cases. A colleague reports that even when Adey is swamped with work, she makes herself available to the attorneys to make sure the workflow is seamless.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

When I was younger, I observed how not knowing the law could cause issues for people and businesses. I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I decided to try to educate myself on it. In college, one of my elective courses was a criminal-justice course. The professor was a local judge that had such a love and passion for the legal field, it was infectious. I ended up taking more courses and discovered my own love and passion for the legal field.

What is the best part of your job?

One of my favorite things to do is investigate a case and watch it develop. I get to learn so much along the way and get to see all the pieces come together like a puzzle or story.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Try as many things as you can to discover your passion and make that a career. When you do what you love, you are likely to succeed.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Swim. I love going to the lakes and pools to swim or float for hours.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

Another hobby I enjoy outside of work is home-remodeling. I have helped remodel over four homes and participated in painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, installing tile and hardwood flooring.

Anything else you want people to know?

There are so many outstanding people in the legal communities and within our firm that it is a great honor to be considered and a recipient of this award.

– Nicholas Phillips

czeschin-sarahMissouri Foreclosure Team Lead

Martin Leigh

Sarah Czeschin knows foreclosures inside and out. Her expertise in Missouri’s foreclosure process is crucial to her firm’s success due to her oversight in foreclosures and sales. As team lead, Czeschin is responsible for all foreclosure files and sales, often working late when an unexpected issue crops up. She also is known for handling clients with confidence and focusing on making something right when it’s gone wrong. Her work is integral to the success of Martin Leigh’s practice.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

This was my first job right out of college. Not really knowing what I wanted to do, I figured, I’ll give it a shot. Thirteen years later … I am so glad I did.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Admit your mistakes, learn from them and move forward. And of course, always do your best … plus a little extra.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

This past April I finished my 10th half-marathon. Such a rewarding feeling, crossing the finish line.

What is the best part of your job?

By far, the people I work with. They are not only friends but like family.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Cooking, hanging out with family and friends, and my guilty pleasure, reality TV.

– Rachel Webb

feigenbutz-kateParalegal

Dowd Bennett

Kate Feigenbutz is the paralegal that attorneys want to have working for their side. At Dowd Bennett, she’s known for her encyclopedic attention to detail and flawless work product, even in the most complicated toxic tort cases. She has the ability to discern the end goal of a case and direct her assignments to work toward that goal, sometimes even tracking down documents on websites that attorneys weren’t aware existed. In addition to being indispensable, she projects a calm, cool demeanor that makes her a pleasure to work with for her teammates. Before joining Dowd Bennett in 2014, she worked as a paralegal in several law offices before completing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

The legal field is something that is very interesting, and outcomes of civil and criminal litigation impact society in many ways.

What is the best part of your job?

I am fortunate to work with a team of professionals who have very high ethical standards and a great attitude, even during some of the most intense pressures.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best career advice I’ve been given is to continue my education, not just in the academic arena but to embrace new office applications. It’s easy to become technologically stagnant.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I enjoy spending time with my family, going to church and reading for pleasure.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I was an art major for two years before deciding to pursue the paralegal program.

Anything else you want people to know?

Pursuing a career in the legal field was one of the best decisions I have made.

– Rachel Webb

gause-twylaParalegal

Morrow Willnauer Church

At the Kansas City law firm of Morrow Willnauer Church, Twyla Gause is known for going above and beyond, no matter what the task involves. “If you ask for an inch, she’ll give you a mile,” a nominator writes. Her work ethic started long before she joined the firm. As a single mother, Gause worked full-time as a law-firm document clerk while attending a full roster of classes. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Missouri Western State University before jumping into work as a legal secretary and making her way to Morrow Willnauer Church.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

After reading “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I wanted to help people so I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. Many people are not aware of their rights. I wanted to help people to know their rights to avoid being mistreated or taken advantage of.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

“No matter what, your situation or circumstance does not define you. Just be yourself, and you will be perfect.”

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I am very, very competitive, and I hate to lose. I love a good challenge. No matter what I am a part of, I have to give 110 percent so I know within myself that I at least contributed.

What is the best part of your job?

The people that I work with, investigating, researching, doing trial preparation and assisting in trial.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Relaxing and spending time with family.

Anything else you want people to know?

Hard work, determination and dedication pay off. You can overcome your obstacles. Your setbacks are a setup for your comeback. I had a child while in college, and I was a single mother with an excellent support system. I continued to go to school full-time and work full-time until I got my degree in order to show my kids and others that life may get hard, [but] you can overcome your obstacles and achieve your goals.

– Rachel Webb

hillis-caroleNurse Consultant/Paralegal

Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas & Hanschen

Carole Hillis left the medical center for the law office when she stepped into a new role as a paralegal, but she’s still heavily involved in the health field. As the nurse consultant for her firm’s professional-liability defense practice, Hillis is constantly analyzing medical records, coordinating expert witnesses and providing the firm’s attorneys with the latest in medical literature. She works with lawyers and physicians at all levels, being known for contacting the head of neuroradiology at Harvard or the chief hospitalist at Washington University for cases while interacting with them on a peer level. What led you to choose a career in the legal field? I was looking for a change from clinical nursing.

What is the best part of your job?

Everyone works as a team.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Never stop learning.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Spend time with my family.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I have torqued the rocker bolts on an LS motor.

Anything else you want people to know?

I like needlecrafts.

– Rachel Webb

miller-melissaParalegal

Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris

Melissa Miller has spent her career as a paralegal helping attorneys to deploy their strategies. During nearly 14 years in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Miller spearheaded the development of veterans court, helped to run the drug court and served as a handler for the first compassion service dog in the prosecutor’s office. She also coordinated training and implementation of e-filing for the office. Miller began working at Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris in 2015, where her skills in investigation and strategy have proven to be equally beneficial to her firm and clients.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I had a passion for reading “true-crime” books as a teenager. My favorite part of a book was when the crime was solved and the attorneys sold their version of the story to a jury.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is being a part of a team determined to achieve the best outcome and given a platform to voice my opinion. I am continually encouraged to think outside of the box and give perspective on different elements of a case.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best career advice I’ve received is to “always smile when juggling chainsaws.” We are confronted with very difficult, high-pressure, short-deadline tasks. Sometimes it is difficult to smile during the storm and remember how badly you wanted to be a part of this legal community.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Be a fan. You can find me on the bleachers, cheering on my kids at competitive softball, hockey, volleyball, basketball, band and Boy Scouts.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I was a member of a curling team called, “The Mother Curlers.”

Anything else you want people to know?

I am very grateful for the people that I have had the opportunity to work for and to work with.

– Allyssa Dudley

Office Manager/Paralegal

Nolan Law Firm

Erin Nolan’s resume suggests a map for a winding path. She worked in customer service for a Minnesota grocer before managing a McDonald’s restaurant, then a convenience store, then a Hardee’s restaurant. She started her own cab company and worked as an advertising sales manager for a local newspaper in Clinton before shifting her focus to law. Now her work centers on her clients, as she devotes many hours to research and case-management on their behalf while also serving as her firm’s office manager. “Her skill, compassion and dedication are inspiring and challenge all of us in the office to do better, work harder and to remember clients are more than charges and files,” attorney Patrick Nolan said in his nomination letter.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I came up in restaurants, managing several, and earned master’s degrees in communication and leadership from Gonzaga and an MBA. I became interested in law while my husband was attending law school at Mizzou, and [I] became a paralegal a couple years ago.

What is the best part of your job?

Being there when we get to tell a client they have won.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Keep track of the contact information for everyone you meet. You never know when you will need to contact someone.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Spending time with my family coaching soccer and tee-ball, and [to] bring a little extra happiness into our area of the world.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I’m a vicious Halo player.

– Allyssa Dudley

pierce-brianParalegal

Michael Horn Attorney

Brian Pierce may be one of the best-credentialed paralegals in Missouri. He clerked in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and he’s been an assistant county attorney, a public defender, an adjunct professor and managing partner of a firm he founded. His passion for the law is rooted not in what he has achieved, however, but what he has overcome: As a youth in rural Minnesota, Pierce said he became involved in drugs and crime, landing in a juvenile center and adult prison. After his release, he worked full-time to put himself through college and law school, and he also helped to establish the Minnesota Human Rights Library. He’s no longer practicing law, however, and he’s moved to Branson to be closer to his elderly parents. He has worked as a paralegal for attorney Michael Horn since 2012.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I have personal experience with the criminal-justice system that made me want a career helping others navigate the unfamiliar and sometimes scary legal system.

What is the best part of your job?

Helping people deal with a difficult situation in their life.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Stay in school as long as you can because education will help you overcome all sorts of obstacles to success.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Ride my motorcycle and spend time with my girlfriend and family.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

Although I have my BA and JD both from the University of Minnesota and both with honors, I did not complete high school; instead I got my [general education diploma] at age 16.

Anything else you want people to know?

I also do some freelance sentence-mitigation consulting. and I have testified as an expert at sentencing hearings on several occasions. I have some very unique personal experience and training, which I think helps me bring an important perspective to defense-oriented sentencing proposals.

– Allyssa Dudley

thomas-darrenParalegal

Shook, Hardy & Bacon

In addition to his work as a paralegal for Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Darren Thomas serves as project manager for the Kansas City chapter of the Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel. The coalition, a nonprofit collaboration between private attorneys and the Missouri State Public Defender System, provides courtroom training to early-career private-practice attorneys as they represent public defender clients. Shook has been involved in the coalition since it launched in 2017. Thomas was instrumental in its expansion to the firm’s Kansas City office, where he organized training sessions and attends court sessions to support attorneys.

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I have always been fascinated by the law. The complexities of our legal system provide a stimulating, intellectual environment.

What is the best part of your job?

Getting the right outcome for the client. It is important that our clients get the constitutional protections they are entitled to.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Build good bridges, because you never know where they’ll take you.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I love to travel. I have been named my family’s “official travel agent.”

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I grow orchids. I am a complete amateur but [am] learning along the way.

Anything else you want people to know?

I am currently a candidate for the Jackson County Committeeman for the Sixth Ward.

– Allyssa Dudley

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