Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Kirsten Fraser

Kirsten is an associate in the firm’s Columbus office, specializing in serving business clients, practicing at the crossroads of litigation and business law.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self, just starting out in the legal field?

I would tell myself to slow down, take my time, ask more questions and master learning tasks from the bottom up. When I first started, I was itching for more responsibility right away; I wanted to write the briefs, take the depositions and attend oral arguments. With a little more experience, I’m seeing that first mastering tasks like research and document review make you better at the more advanced tasks. So I would tell myself to keep pushing for opportunities, but to also master the basics, if you will.

Name an attorney you admire and tell us why.

My former boss, Mary Jo Kilroy. Mary Jo put herself through law school, and then dedicated her career to serving others as an attorney and also as a public servant. She always voted her conscience, even if that was the unpopular choice to make. She was focused on what she believed to be right, not what the polls or the party told her was right. She was extremely authentic—not a slap on the back politician. From her I learned to be true to myself and to stick to my guns. The best lesson I learned from her though, was how to ask questions. Mary Jo always asked the best questions. I learned how to prepare for her questions (which always made my work product better), and I also learned from her how to ask the right questions of other people. That has been invaluable in my career as an attorney.

How has your previous experience helped you in your current role at Porter Wright?

I worked in politics in college as an Ohio Senate Page, then at a political consulting firm and then I worked for Mary Jo at the County Commissioners and in Congress before I went to law school. Having that political experience helps me understand how government and the private sector interact, particularly here in Columbus where there is a strong public-private partnership. I also learned about advocacy, messaging and service, which informs my practice as a litigator daily. I also think any work experience outside of a law firm is helpful to lawyers, so that we can better understand the world our clients operate in.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would he/she be and why?

Thomas Jefferson, with him hosting the dinner at Monticello. Jefferson was a man of extreme contradictions, of brilliant intelligence, troubling behavior and a charismatic persona. I would love to spend an evening talking to him about his life, his politics and engaging in some debate about liberties, America and his interpretation of the founding documents of our country.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I wouldn’t have my professional life without mentorship. There have been people in my life, both men and women, starting with my teachers in high school (Mrs. Hasebrook), college (Professor Silverman) and professionals I’ve worked with (Jonathan, Mary Jo, Dave, Liz), who took me under their wings, gave me guidance, advice, life lessons and support, which has led me exactly to where I am today. Here at Porter Wright, I’ve had the good fortune of benefiting from our formal mentorship program, but I’ve also been mentored by other attorneys in the litigation department who have shown me the ropes, given me support and presented me with great opportunities. I don’t have a career without any of my mentors.