How I Got My Job in Boise: Kira Dale Pfisterer, Trial Attorney, Hepworth, Janis & Kluksdal
What Do You Do?
I am a trial attorney with the law firm of Hepworth, Janis & Kluksdal in Boise, Idaho. My practice focuses on personal injury, medical malpractice, and product liability cases.
Where are you from and where did you go to law school?
I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I graduated from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2002.
What kind of activities did you do in law school?
I was active in the Public Interest Law Organization (PILO) and Natural Resources Law Forum. I was also a senior staff member of the Journal of Land, Resources, & Environmental Law, a research assistant for Professor Martinez, and a teaching assistant for the first-year Property and Legal Writing classes.
How did you first make contact with your employer and how did you get this job?
I had been working part-time as a career law clerk at the federal district court in Boise, Idaho. When my youngest child entered first grade, I started thinking about making a career change. I was not sure what I wanted to do and read a few books- some general career change books and others specific to law school graduates. I identified several areas of interest and then spoke with people in those practice areas to see what their daily practices were like. One of those individuals was Charlie Hepworth, a friend of mine who seemed to really enjoy his work and is extremely well-regarded in our legal community. As he spoke that day, I had a little epiphany: I realized that I wanted to represent plaintiffs. It just made so much sense. It turned out that Charlie had an epiphany, too: he started thinking that I might make a good addition to his firm, in large part due to my federal court experience. So, our initial lunch date turned into a weeks-long discussion. I was very concerned about the trial work, but I have found that I love it. I have a background in teaching, and I feel that really helps with what I do. They were concerned that I did not have a life-long commitment to trial work, but it turns out that I have the zeal of the recent convert. I am so thrilled that I made the leap of faith. It has been extremely challenging at times and also very rewarding.
What does your typical day involve for you/your work?
Every day is different. Some days I am in court arguing motions. Some days I am working at my desk and on the phone- reading and responding to discovery, drafting briefs, phoning experts, speaking with clients, speaking with potential clients, speaking with insurance adjusters, or speaking with opposing counsel.
What are the best parts of your job?
What I never imagined is that my best days or those when we are in trial preparing witnesses, preparing questions, drafting motions, and speaking with the judge and jury, trying to educate them about our position. It is great fun. I also really enjoy the relationships I have with my clients. There is so much responsibility there, and it can seem overwhelming sometimes. At the same time, it also feels really good to help folks who otherwise have no idea what to do after they have been injured and feel strongly that the injuries were due to the negligence of someone else. I like educating them about the process and then helping them navigate through it.
What tips and advice do you have for job-seeking students and/or alum?
First, do your research. This includes some soul-searching. Try to figure out what type of work environment you want and what your priorities are. Also talk to other lawyers and ask a lot of questions. Ask people about their jobs in terms of what they do each day. You may be interested in a particular area of the law, but make sure the every-day practice would be a good fit. I thought public utilities law was fascinating and would be a good fit given my interests and background. But I tried a job in that area and found that the daily practice was not at all what I had expected. I was embarrassed when I figured out quickly that the job was a dead-end. Try to avoid that; it’s a horrible feeling.
Second, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Whether it’s a current employer or a potential employer, see if there is a way to accommodate whatever it is you think would be helpful to make you successful at what you do. Whether it’s a more flexible schedule or support for developing a new practice area, I say it can’t hurt to ask. So long as you aren’t demanding or projecting a sense of entitlement, it’s just another way to share information. You will learn more about the expectations of the job, and they will learn more about you and what you are ultimately looking for in a career.