The desire to never stop learning has guided Kristi Thompson through four decades of work, three of them spent as a legal secretary. She found her calling at the impressionable age of 16.
Thompson remembers being the girl to beat in her high school typing and stenography classes. A teacher signed her up for typing competitions and took her to a local courthouse so she could practice her stenography at live hearings.
In her junior year she got a part-time job at a Milwaukee law firm, where her responsibilities had her helping a criminal-defense attorney take notes of interviews with jail inmates.
After graduating from high school, Thompson landed a job as legal secretary to the chairman of the real estate practice group of a large Milwaukee firm.
“I hungered to learn as much as I could,” Thompson said, “and spent time working in nearly every area of law, picking up knowledge and sharpening my skills every step of the way.”
Thompson is now legal executive assistant to the litigation team at Godfrey & Kahn in Milwaukee, providing primary support to four attorneys and one paralegal, as well as backup support to five attorneys and two paralegals.
She also oversees executive assistants in both the firm’s litigation and labor and employment teams.
“Her work is always stellar,” said Zach Willenbrink, an associate at Godfrey & Kahn and member of its litigation practice group in Milwaukee. “Kristi is consistently devoted to doing a great job for everyone she works with.”
Prioritizing tasks in a way that “keeps everyone happy” can be difficult, Thompson admitted. But “half the battle” is staying calm under pressure and keeping a smile, she said.
“My overall satisfaction comes from knowing I have given it my all,” Thompson said.
Her full life, she said, includes being married to her sixth-grade sweetheart, with whom she has three children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.