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2020 Unsung Legal Heroes: Office Manager

Kara M. Brostron

Office Manager

Lashly & Baer

Kara M. BrostronA summer job as a teenager at the law firm where her father worked became an unexpected career choice for Kara Brostron — and a path to lead a storied practice’s response to an unexpected global pandemic.

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

I juggle firm operations in the areas of HR, benefits, IT, marketing, facilities and overall general management. Every day is different, whether it is recruiting for a new hire, keeping costs low on renewals, creating fake phishing attacks for cybersecurity training or dealing with the upkeep of the firm’s 100-plus-year-old building in downtown St. Louis.

 

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

Changing the firm’s continuity plan to meet our ever-changing needs. Who would have thought we would be faced with a global pandemic in 2020? Staying on top of legal technology trends allowed the firm to transition to 100 percent remote work with just a few days’ notice. I encouraged the firm to implement paperless processes during the past few years, and in fall 2019, I replaced the firm’s remote desktop service — making it possible for all users to have remote access without the limitations of the old system.

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

Does anyone really choose the legal field? I fell into the field trying to find the perfect job after college. I started my career in an entry-level position at Lashly & Baer, where my Dad was the managing partner, knowing that I had to excel at everything so I wouldn’t let him down. This need to excel motivated me to earn my certified legal manager certification in 2018. While Dad was not initially a fan, I have since served him proud and turned this job into a rewarding career.

What is the best part of your job?

The ability to make change. It has been exciting to watch the legal industry change since I entered it 17 years ago.  I love a good challenge.

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

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

As a little girl, I received a trophy for “Best Team Player” in ice hockey.

Kimberley K. Frederick

Office Manager

Growe Eisen Karlen Eilerts

 

Kimberley K. FrederickSimply amazing.

That’s how Office Manager Kim Frederick’s nominator describes her.

“Her work ethic, her ability to get every job done, and her ability to manage our office… is beyond compare,” her nominator said.  “It’s phenomenal what she does on a day-in and day-out basis. Don’t tell her I said this, but I do not know where we would be without her.”

Too late.

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

As office manager here for more than 10 years, my responsibilities include accounts receivable/payable, payroll, staff management and scheduling, employee training and even in-house IT support.

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

My objective is to run the firm as smoothly as possible, as if it were my own. Taking care of everything on the administrative side so that the attorneys can practice law without being interrupted or bogged down.

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

While I didn’t intentionally set out to work in this field, the experiences gained in previous careers helped to prepare me for the many tasks I get to now perform.

What is the best part of your job?

It’s never the same.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

When I started out in this role, I didn’t know the difference between a pleading and a petition. And I had no idea what redacted meant, or why it was important.

Eric Lewis

Office Manager

Burkhart Law Group

Eric LewisAt a four-attorney firm, there’s not much room to hide. Conversely, there’s also plenty of room to stand out.

“Eric Lewis has mastered every aspect of (managing) my law office,” his nominator said. “I can depend on him to make sure things are progressing when I’m out of the office.”

“My clients recognize him as the face of the firm,” his nominator added. “He is clearly one of the state’s most talented and dedicated legal support professionals.”

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

I always have a multitude of tasks and projects to tackle. Generally, I will be engaging with clients and contractors, recording and processing firm data, taking care of the firm’s accounting, ensuring timelines and deadlines are kept, implementing new processes, updating the website, and carrying out a near-exhaustive list of other tasks that makes the attorneys’ lives easier.

Tell us about your key accomplishments in this role.

I am naturally a person who shies away from talking about myself, especially when it comes to accomplishments. I know that since I have joined the firm, we have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. However, I consider myself more a “right-hand man” than a leader, in that I can very thoroughly implement the ideas of others.

What is the best part of your job?

Every task feels important, and there is never any “busy” work. Plus, every day there is something new and that helps keeps me engaged.

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

This is not groundbreaking advice, but my father always said, “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.”

What is something that would surprise people about you?

My undergraduate minor was interior design.

Paige Wymore-Wynn

Court Executive

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Paige Wymore-WynnImagine overseeing hundreds of employees (with 21 judges as bosses) during a global pandemic, or a prolonged government shutdown.

For Paige Wymore-Wynn, turning the unexpected into the routine comes with the territory. In more than two decades in the job, she’s just about done it all — from riding herd over nine-figure courthouse renovations to administering the oath of citizenship to Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

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

I work with more than 275 employees who support and lead the federal courts in Missouri’s Western District. I oversee a multi-million-dollar budget that allows for the day-to-day operations of the district and bankruptcy courts and the probation/pretrial services office. An average day may include working with IT staff on new projects or meeting with other court clerks to discuss common challenges like COVID-19. Any given day could find me selecting materials for chamber renovations, hosting members of the bar for educational events and working alongside judicial officers.

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

In 2009, several of the court’s senior managers retired just as we were starting to design a new federal courthouse in Jefferson City. That project became one that I helped direct, from the first pour of concrete to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The courthouse was completed two months ahead of schedule and was several million dollars under budget. Within a few years after the 2011 dedication of that courthouse, we started a major renovation in Springfield. Because we lease, not own, that property, there were limitations on work we could authorize within the building. In the end, the courtrooms were remodeled and brought up to current technology standards while staying within budget.  And I was able to expand my knowledge base in directions that I never dreamed.

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

My husband, Deryl, is an attorney, so I know some of the opportunities he’s been provided by working within the business. Also, my predecessor, Pat Brune, told me about a position within the court — and I saw how much she enjoyed her work.

What is the best part of your job?

One of my most rewarding opportunities is administering the oath of citizenship to new U.S. citizens. Hearing the oath and seeing the new citizens’ pure joy in reaching a lifelong goal is something that always moves my heart.

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

When in charge, be in charge.  Also, never be afraid of a “do-over,” as some of the most successful ideas came from trying something that didn’t work the first time.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I once had breakfast with rock singer Alice Cooper in Chicago when my family and I were staying at the same hotel. I was so excited that I didn’t even include my family in pictures I took with him.

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