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2020 Unsung Legal Heroes: Firm Administration

Larissa Butler

Firm Administrator

Kennyhertz Perry

Larissa ButlerNot many law offices can claim an ex-Marine as firm administrator.

Larissa Butler — Sgt. Lari around the office — joined Kennyhertz Perry three years ago as a paralegal with 15 years of experience. She was promoted to firm administrator in January.

“Her experience and willingness to take on any challenge has allowed Larissa to completely change the way we operate our law firm,” her nominator said.

“A week doesn’t go by that I don’t say to myself, ‘What would we do without Larissa?’”

Tell us about your day-to-day duties in this role.

I handle all aspects of new client intake, manage office billing and track client payments, monitor accounts receivable, manage new client files and more.

Tell us about your key accomplishment(s) in this role.

I revamped the process for tracking engagement-letter status and referrals, revised new client intake procedures, streamlined the firm’s billing process and established a collection system for past-due accounts.

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

After the military, I needed something that would keep me engaged, and with this job there is never a dull moment. There is always something to learn, and I’m constantly being challenged. 

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

Get out of your comfort zone and constantly challenge yourself. It is never pleasant to be in an unfamiliar situation, but it’s one of the only ways to grow as a person and expand your skillset.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I did one year of college out of high school and realized I wasn’t quite ready, so I joined the U.S. Marines. I did four years of active duty, reached the rank of sergeant and absolutely loved it. I moved to Kansas City after completing my tour and decided to go into the legal field.

Carolyn McIntyre

Office Manager/Paralegal

Halvorsen Klote

Carolyn McIntyreWhen prospective clients meet Carolyn McIntyre, they’re not just dealing with her firm’s initial point of contact. They’re also meeting someone who brings her own experience as a personal injury victim to bear.

“Carolyn is the glue that holds our office together,” her nominator said. “She has a calming presence that our clients love and our office needs.”

A mother of three, McIntyre “balances work and family with grace,” her nominator added.

Tell us about your day-to-day duties in this role.

Anything and everything. I am the support staff for three attorneys.

Tell us about your key accomplishment(s) in this role.

I optimized case management by implementing new structures and categories for each stage of litigation.

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

After being a victim in my own personal injury case almost five years ago, it was an easy decision to want to join Halvorsen Klote and assist them in fighting for other personal injury victims.

What is the best part of your job?

My co-workers and the great atmosphere that we get to work in every day. Work-life balance is a priority here at the firm, and that is hard to find.

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

When starting a new job, take the time to learn about the company, your group, the roles within your group and how your role fits in. Be humble, but also do not be afraid to speak up. Do your best to add value to every project, meeting, etc. that you’re involved in.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I used to spend my days in and out of jails and prisons as a former commissioned parole officer managing a caseload of violent offenders.

 

Cheri Perez

Operations Director

Stueve Siegel Hanson

Cheri Perez Going above and beyond to manage office upheaval during the pandemic is a recurring theme among this year’s Unsung Heroes.

At Stueve Siegel Hanson, the COVID-19 outbreak meant an increase in virus-related work, including helping companies impacted by the resulting economic tailspin. Operations Director Cheri Perez “never missed a beat,” her nominator said.

“She has always been dependable and loyal, but during this uncertain time she now more than ever is the backbone of our firm.”

Tell us about your day-to-day duties in this role. 

With most of our 21 attorneys and 10 support staff still working at home, I continue to supervise the office in person. I also work as a legal assistant for five partners and one associate.

Tell us about your key accomplishment(s) in this role.

Our office opened in 2001, which is also when I started with the firm, and [it] has been paperless from day one. We’ve always been on the leading edge of technology, which keeps us ahead of the curve but can also be challenging at times to learn.

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

Growing up, my next-door neighbor was an attorney with his own firm. After I graduated high school, he offered me a job as a receptionist. After a few months, I was promoted to legal secretary and worked in that role for more than 18 years. I then had a great opportunity to join my current firm as operations director.

What is the best part of your job? 

Working with a great staff and attorneys at a firm with little turnover (average tenure is 10 years). I also love our firm’s out-of-state retreats; we’ve traveled to Phoenix and San Diego, and before the pandemic hit we were supposed to go to the Napa Valley.

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

If you wake up every morning dreading having to go to work, you are not at the right place. As hard as it may be, you’ve got to make a change.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I was a ballet dancer for more than 20 years.

Bonnie S. Wedel

Manager of Facilities

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Bonnie S. WedelIn a career approaching a half-century, Bonnie S. Wedel has become an institution at BCLP. And while her day-to-day duties are extensive and her accomplishments many, it’s her record of civic involvement — more plainly, lending a helping hand — that literally fills pages.

“She’s been called the heart and soul of our office by many for decades,” her nominator said, noting she’s been:

  • a longtime Operation Food Search board member
  • the organizer of employee fundraisers to assist cancer victims
  • a point person who assisted several clients released following wrongful convictions with community transition services, from spearheading used furniture donations to helping plan a post-release wedding
  • a co-founder of the Downtown St. Louis Emergency Preparedness organization after the Sept. 11 terror attacks;

“The list surely goes on and on,” her nominator added. “Bonnie has been an irresistible force for good her entire 45 years here, helping to lead and inspire the firm to do wonderful things for people in need.”

Tell us about your day-to-day duties in this role.

I manage everything that has to do with facilities: water leaks; office construction; housekeeping; office relocations; event planning; supplies and purchasing; parking garage management, etc.

Tell us about your key accomplishment(s) in this role.

I’ve been here 45 years, starting as an administrative assistant. As Managing Partner Bill Van Cleve got to know me, he gave me many challenging projects, including:

  • Managing the office build-out of six floors in the One Metropolitan Square building.
  • Relocating our firm from 500 N. Broadway to One Metropolitan Square during a three-day holiday weekend.
  • Overseeing other office openings, including our Jefferson City and Chicago locations.
  • Assisting Managing Partner Walter Metcalfe in organizing the firm’s 125th anniversary celebration at the America’s Center, with Bob Costas as host.

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

It happened by accident. I was applying for a totally different type of job when the placement agency recommended a job at Bryan Cave.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I’m shy and do not like to be the center of attention.

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