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Five Questions: Kristie Crawford

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After working for seven years as an associate at St. Louis-based Brown & James PC’s Springfield office, Kristie Crawford was promoted to principal. She is one of the firm’s four Springfield attorneys – companywide, there are approximately 100 lawyers located in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Little Rock, Ark., and Belleville, Ill. The firm handles civil cases from business litigation and products liability to automobile accidents.

Q: You have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. How has that helped you in the courtroom?
A: While I was getting that degree, I had the opportunity to conduct studies in social interaction and examine how groups think, kind of the biases and pressures that arise when people are acting in a group. In the courtroom, a lot of it is, you want to represent your client, present the facts, present the law, but at the same time, you’re trying to determine and predict how a jury will view those same facts. Of course, the jury isn’t in a vacuum. Everybody brings in their own biases and experiences.

Q: What other experiences have prepared you for your attorney job?
A: I was clerk for the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Southern District (and) got to see the end result of an appeal, which, in turn, has made me more aware of the record that you need to make at trial to preserve error. That was actually a great experience because I had the opportunity to read briefs as well as transcripts of trials, look at exhibits, sit back and see what the verdict was and examine all of that. It was a good chance to see how all information and everything that happens in a trial comes together for the end results.

Q: You were also an institutional parole officer at the Fulton Reception and Diagnostics Center. How different is that experience from your trial work?
A: What I do isn’t that different. Just now, fortunately, I don’t have to walk into a prison every morning. They are very similar because as a parole officer, it was my job to look at all the facts and apply them to the parole board’s guidelines. … Now my job is to investigate, look at all of the facts, apply the law to the facts and try to predict for my client what’s going to happen if the case goes to trial.

Q: What made you decide to represent businesses versus individuals?
A: I know people often think of a corporation as being this impersonal entity. My parents had a business. It was incorporated. And they went through a few lawsuits. I had the personal experience to see what you go through when you’re a defendant, how confusing it is, your life being disrupted. After going through that, basically, I wanted to go to law school so, first of all, I could prevent that from happening again and then figure out what to do if someone gets sued.

Q: What advice would you give businesspeople to keep them out of the courtroom?
A: Unfortunately, people operate on oral agreements and what they believe to be understandings with other people. … There are ways that you can prevent these things from happening by planning for the future, putting it in writing, trying to anticipate what will happen. … Certainly, in a partnership agreement, you would want to outline what the duties and responsibilities are of each partner, as well as what will happen if the partnership were to dissolve.[[In-content Ad]]

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