Member Spotlight: Kristen A. Wagner
Wagner is a staff attorney at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV), Kingston, NY. Prior to joining LSHV, Wagner was NYSBA’s director of Pro Bono Services. She lives in Albany.
What do you find most rewarding about being an attorney?
As a legal services immigration attorney for crime victims, I give people advice and assistance that they cannot get anywhere else. My clients experience significant barriers to accessing justice (language barriers, lack of financial resources, and lack of information and knowledge), so I know that I am making a difference in my clients’ lives simply by being able to give them advice. I can truly impact and, in some cases, help save their lives when I am able to provide them with full scope representation.
What advice would you give a young lawyer just starting her or his career?
Follow your heart. Paying student loans and having financial stability is important, but your job takes up most of your life. You should do something you truly enjoy doing.
What or who inspired you to become a lawyer?
When I was in college, I did a summer internship at a local law firm where there was an immigration attorney. He had me assist him with an asylum appeal. I enjoyed the subject matter and the work so much, I decided to go to law school to become an immigration attorney.
What do you think that most people misunderstand about lawyers and the legal system?
I get the impression that people think all lawyers know everything about the law. These days, I think it is more common for lawyers to specialize than to have general legal knowledge.
What kind of music do you listen to or who is your favorite musician?
I listen to a wide variety of indie/rock/alternative music. The musicians I have most recently seen in concert include A Perfect Circle, Pixies, Weezer, Spoon, Cage the Elephant and Jenny Lewis.
Lawyers should join the New York State Bar Association because…
It’s a great way to get access to up-to-date CLE programming and networking opportunities. When you take a training from NYSBA, you know the presenters are experts in their fields and networking with other attorneys across the state is invaluable for your growth and development as a practitioner.