Fergus graduate returns to home town to practice law

District Judge Jon Oldenburg administers the attorney oath to new Lewistown lawyer Sarah McReynolds.

Photo by Doreen Heintz

By: 
DOREEN HEINTZ
Reporter

 

Following graduation from Fergus High School in 2008, Sarah McReynolds left Montana to attend college in Denver. Although she worked for attorney Torger Oaas during the summer, McReynolds had no intention of becoming a lawyer.

“I didn’t like the criminal side of being a lawyer,” said McReynolds, “but while I was doing my undergraduate work in Denver, I took a business law class and loved it.”

From there, McReynolds decided she did want to become a lawyer and work in estate and business law.

“I took the LSAT test and received a relatively good score,” added McReynolds.

McReynolds explained the LSAT test is a test one has to take to get into law school.

McReynolds applied to several law schools throughout the United States. She received a reply from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.

“This is one of the largest law schools in the nation,” explained McReynolds. “They also offered me 50 percent off my tuition to attend their school.”

According to McReynolds, it was a private law school with four campuses when she attended. Now the law school is affiliated with Western Michigan University.

It took only two years for McReynolds to get her law degree.

“I went straight through, including summers, and also took a high credit load in an accelerated program,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds first thought about practicing law in Michigan.

“The winters are very cold in Michigan, and it is a different kind of cold than we have in Montana,” said McReynolds. “It seemed as though the weather was often rainy and foggy.

“In addition, I was in Lansing right after the recession. There were many city blocks that were completely empty because of the number of auto plants that had been shut down.”

Following graduation McReynolds moved back to Colorado.

“I really liked it, but it is very expensive to live there,” said McReynolds.

It was then time for McReynolds to return to Montana.

After moving back to the Lewistown area, McReynolds spent a year working as a law clerk for Judge Jon Oldenburg. She also spent that year studying for her Montana law exam.

“A law clerk is a judicial assistant,” explained McReynolds about her job. “We do lots of things, such as checking briefs, doing research for legal fact checking, draft orders for the judge and take very good notes for the judge.

“I loved working for Judge Oldenburg.”

In May of this year, McReynolds passed her ethics exam.

“The ethics exam is very important,” said McReynolds. “One has to pass this exam before taking the actual bar exam.”

In July McReynolds took the bar exam. The test is given over two days. On the third day, law candidates are required to attend a law seminar.

During the last week of September, McReynolds found out she had passed the exam. On Friday, Sept. 29, Judge Oldenburg administered the oath for McReynolds to become an attorney in the state of Montana.

Several members of McReynolds’ family were able to join her in the Fergus County courtroom when Oldenburg administered her oath. They included her parents Mike and Leda McReynolds; sister and brother-in-law Angie and Cameron Berger, along with their two boys Jacob and Ian; and several aunts and uncles.

One of McReynolds’ aunts commented Sarah is the fifth generation of the Fred Culver family to work in Fergus County.

McReynolds explained Culver is her great-great-grandfather. He came to the Lewistown area to homestead in 1881.

McReynolds has joined the law practice of Stogsdill and Birdwell, Inc.

“Jim (Stogsdill) retired in January, and Kris wanted someone who was going to stay in the area to join his practice,” said McReynolds.

McReynolds is excited about her new job and being back in Montana.

 

 

 

 

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