The compassionate disposition the associate attorney Katie Christiansen brings to her criminal-defense and civil-litigation practice can perhaps be best exemplified by a moment that her colleagues at Doar, Drill & Skow say “solidified her passion for being a zealous advocate for juveniles and those in need of help.”
After joining the New Richmond-based firm in 2014, Christiansen took a case from the State Public Defender’s office representing a 16-year-old girl who had experienced many ups and downs and had not opened up or connected with anyone since the trial began. Christiansen noticed the girl’s discomfort during a hearing and decided to invite her for a walk.
She said the second they left the courtroom the girl began talking — a lot.
“She trusted me because I took the time to just listen,” Christiansen said.
That moment taught her that sometimes being there for clients can be more important than worrying about the outcome of a case. She also said she was able to recognize that need because she had felt it in the past.
“When I was younger I never felt like anybody would just listen to me,” she said. “We grew up so poor and really struggled my whole childhood with being the kid who didn’t have the right clothes and lived in the wrong house … so from a really young age I wanted to make a better life for myself and give my kids a better future.”
By the time she arrived at her current firm, she had worked as a law clerk fellow in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and as a law clerk in the 5th Judicial District of Minnesota.
She also gained experience representing clients as a student attorney for the 1st District of Minnesota Public Defender’s Office. At Doar, Drill & Skow, she assisted in an emotionally charged case that gained attention from national media outlets.
The 29 year old has already reached various professional milestones. Still, she said her greatest accomplishment is being the first member of her family to earn a graduate degree and the first member of her immediate family to graduate college. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2012 after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska.
Christiansen, discovering that her background was different from many of her law school peers’, began exploring criminal justice.
“It made me realize how little power you have when you don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “We’re just prosecuting people with no power and we’re really just further prosecuting them and oppressing them, and I think that’s when it really made me want to help give some of that power back.”
She has participated in the Innocence Project of Minnesota, Minnesota’s largest family homeless shelter and Big Brother Big Sister. She now serves indigent youth and adults through the state Public Defender’s office, serves on the St. Croix Valley Bar Association board and is active in her local YMCA and YWCA.
“I think it’s a blessing to be in service because you have to always think outside of yourself and it makes you better,” she said.