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Unsung Legal Heroes 2019: Information Technology

MICHELLE BRYANT

MICHELLE BRYANT

Head of IT, Seigfreid Bingham

Michelle Bryant, head of the IT department at Seigfreid Bingham in Kansas City, has been referred to by a coworker as “a magician with all things technical” — someone with a comprehensive knowledge of the digital tools used by the firm.

Bryant

Bryant

Not only does she respond immediately to requests for assistance, but when she does, she is cheerful about it and maintains an attitude of “I can solve this.” Her nominator considers her to be a delight to work with, a delight to be around and “the most helpful staff person I have ever worked with!”

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

The legal field was just a happy accident. I started in office services and moved to IT after a few years. The next thing I knew, I had been here 22 years.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is working with the other fabulous employees at Seigfreid Bingham.

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

The best career advice I have ever received is to show up with a smile and give 100 percent while you’re there.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

People are usually surprised to find out that I am a NASCAR fan.

Anything else that people should know about you?

I have a wonderful 14-year-old daughter, Molly.

— Nicholas Phillips

MICHAEL FERGUSON

MICHAEL FERGUSON

Computer Operations Manager, Mickes O’Toole

Mike Ferguson, the computer operations manager at Mickes O’Toole in St. Louis, makes his firm run.

Ferguson

Ferguson

He is a constant: someone who everyone can rely on to calmly handle each and every matter. Not only does he handle all technology matters, but he also serves as a creative force that is unique to the law firm environment.

For example, Ferguson creates and animates short videos that the attorneys use for training purposes — much to the delight of the firm’s clients. In sum, he helps Mickes O’Toole elevate the practice of law every day.

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

I started as a file clerk at a local law firm, and little by little began volunteering for more projects and taking on new responsibilities. I’ve always had an aptitude for computers; before long I was handling the daily updates and troubleshooting of workstations as well as managing the firm’s internal network.

What is the best part of your job?

My favorite aspect of my job is finding creative answers to new problems, such as designing web applications for the firm’s time clock or estate-planning client-intake forms. I enjoy finding new and innovative solutions to the myriad projects and issues that arise daily at a law firm.

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

Never underestimate your own potential, and don’t be afraid to take on new challenges.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

People may be surprised to learn that I spend much of my free time writing novels and screenplays.

LOIS HARRIS

LOIS HARRIS

Technology Trainer, Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale

When new hires join Greensfelder in St. Louis, one of the first coworkers they meet is Lois Harris, and she makes an excellent first impression.

Harris

Harris

Harris is the perfect mix of aptitude and attitude: She’s deft with training and technical problem-solving, but she also helps new hires feel like she is on their side and wants to help get them what they need in order to be productive right way.

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

Honestly, I would say that the legal field chose me. I had been involved in corporate technology training for many years. Almost 20 years ago, the consulting company I was with placed me on a project with a downtown law firm. I was hooked. There is a strong team environment within a law firm, and that appeals to me. People at all levels work together to provide the best possible service and outcome for the client. They support each other daily and applaud one another for a job well done. It is good to be part of that environment.

What is the best part of your job?

When I show someone a shortcut or demonstrate a feature, and I get to hear, “Where were you 10 years ago?” I love knowing they will be more productive and use the application more efficiently.

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

A simple line: “Exceed Expectations.” (Thank you, Susan Elliott.)

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I am self-taught in all the applications I support. In the very early ’80s, my father encouraged me to take a class on computers, suggesting it was the way of the future. My advisor signed me up for a Fortran programming class, I cried my way into a “C” and swore off computers forever. But here I am — just a few years later — with a long career of training others on the best way to complete their tasks on a PC.

Anything else that people should know about you?

I love St. Louis, and I’m a huge sports fan.

– Nicholas Phillips

ADRIAN WEINER

ADRIAN WEINER

Director, Information Technology, Stueve Siegel Hanson

Ever since Adrian Weiner joined Stueve Siegel Hanson in 2004, he has not merely maintained servers, employee computers and the firm’s phone system with diligence; he also has been on call 24/7, never making an excuse or complaining even if there is a late-night or weekend need.

Weiner

Weiner

Last year, Weiner suffered a massive heart attack. It hampered his mobility. He can’t come into the office as much as before, or reach around to the back of a computer. But his knowledge of the tech runs so deep, he has been able to talk his coworkers through their issues.

Early this year, Weiner attended the firm’s retreat. He wanted to ride in the group bus with his colleagues, so the firm’s attorneys helped him to do that by carrying him on their backs. One of his coworkers wrote in his nomination: “He is valued. He is irreplaceable.”

What is the best part of your job?

The coworkers I help each day.  Throughout a period of some very unexpected and difficult medical challenges, my coworkers went above and beyond and supported me in my absence by picking up the slack they could. Luckily, they found they could not live without me! But seriously, it was amazing to see them, not only in the visits to the medical facility I was in, but in the way they supported me.

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

You can win the battle but lose the war.  Oftentimes people get stuck so much on being so right about one thing, proving one point, that they don’t realize they have sacrificed a relationship or a partnership.

What is something that would surprise people about you? 

Many people don’t know that I grew up in Africa as a military child. After high school, I joined the U.S. Navy and served over nine years.

Anything else that people should know about you?

My new situation has limited my mobility for now, but I will never stop trying.  Between me being stubborn and the many people caring and praying for me, I survived and thrived even after being told I had less than a 3 percent chance of living. I have places to be and things to do; people need and depend on me. So if you call me, I answer. I will do what I can to help, big and small.

– Nicholas Phillips

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