She swore to herself she wouldn’t be an attorney. She swore to her father and her grandfather as well. Dick Day is one of the founders of Williams, Porter, Day and Neville and his son Stuart has been one of the firm’s stalwarts since the ‘80s. To say both men cast a pretty big shadow would be a vast understatement. So for a long time, Erica Day did not want to become a lawyer. She didn’t want to follow in their footsteps because, quite frankly, she wasn’t sure that she would be able to.
But you can’t fight fate, and when Day graduated high school and got her undergraduate degree from the University of Denver, she had a decision to make. She could build a career doing anything other than being an attorney, simply out of stubbornness; or she could do what she knew she would be good at. She could follow in her father and her grandfather’s footsteps, while still carving out her own path. She could be an attorney.
So that’s what she did.
“I graduated from law school at the University of Denver, and then I actually moved out to Oregon and practiced more in a commercial banking, regulatory field for about a year before coming back to Casper,” Day stated.
She said that she moved to Oregon so her husband could pursue a degree of his own, but it wouldn’t be long before Wyoming called them back home. Still, she resisted the temptation to immediately join her father’s firm. In fact, it wasn’t until she got a call from an old friend that she even considered joining Williams, Porter, Day and Neville.
“Originally, I thought I would look for something in Fort Collins,” Day said. “But my father told the partners that I was coming back to Wyoming and Pat Murphy gave me a call. I had grown up with Pat; his youngest boy is my age. So, he called me and that’s what finally made my mind up.”
It’s not like Day was a stranger to the firm. As a kid, she spent many an afternoon there. She even interned there during law school. She knew the firm well and, even if her last name wasn’t in the lobby, she knew that WPDN was the premiere law firm in Wyoming and beyond. But before she could practice in the state, she had to be sworn into the federal court in Wyoming. This is something that’s required of all attorneys and it is something that holds a very special place in her heart.
“My grandfather was actually the attorney that sponsored me for my swearing in to the federal court in Wyoming,” Day remembered. “When you pass the bar, you’re admitted to practice in Wyoming but you need to go through another step with the federal court where, essentially, you say, ‘Here I am, I passed the bar, I passed my character evaluation, and there’s this other lawyer that is going to vouch for me. Please let me practice in front of you.’ And my grandfather Dick was the one who supported my application and he’s the one who came for my swearing in.”
This was such a meaningful moment to Day, not only because Dick was her grandfather, but also because he was such a widely-respected attorney in Wyoming.
“It ended up being even more meaningful because he passed away not that long afterward,” Day revealed. “I think it was very special. Getting to share that with him, something that had been meaningful and very important in his life [i.e. practicing law in Wyoming], was now important to my life. I was glad that, before he passed, we were able to have that experience together.”
It was a great way to begin her career as a Wyoming attorney and it acted as sort of a symbolic ‘passing of the torch’ from her grandfather.
And so, despite her initial reservations, in 2013 Erica Day became the newest addition to Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville.
That was eight years ago and, in those eight years, Erica has only added to the legacy of the Day name. Her practice includes civil defense work right now, professional liability (specifically medical malpractice), real estate property, and civil rights work. Her work focuses on a wide spectrum of cases that exemplify her varied interests in law. It’s all fascinating to her and she enjoys helping her clients in a variety of ways.
Her desire to help people extends beyond the scope of her work with WPDN as well.
“I also volunteer with Equal Justice Wyoming,” Day revealed. “A lot of members in my firm do. Equal Justice recently had a modest fundraiser-type event where they asked every Wyoming attorney to take one pro-bono case each year. My father is pretty involved with them and it’s just a really cool organization. Specifically, they do a lot of work to help folks that, maybe on the civil side, need an attorney. Some of my Equal Justice cases have been my most memorable cases just because they really show how the law can have a positive impact very closely in your community.”
Many, if not all, of the attorneys at WPDN volunteer their time to a variety of organizations. They do this because they believe serving their community helps them grow as attorneys and as human beings. It’s that community-focused mindset that impresses Day the most and it’s what has kept her here for more than eight years.
“There’s not another bunch of lawyers that I would prefer to work with,” Day said. “They’ve been great mentors for a young attorney who’s really learning the ropes. My senior partners have taken me to trial with them. They have really gone out of their way to be supportive. I think they especially work hard to encourage women in the field, and they try to make sure that we have a lot of women that are coming up and being mentored at WPDN.”
Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville are rooted, devoted, and determined to provide exceptional service at a fair price to Wyoming clients. This is what makes WPDN stand out among other Wyoming-based firms. It’s why the firm has developed such a stellar reputation throughout the state and beyond.
“Wyoming is a really small legal community, so it’s important to have those roots and for people to know that if you’re a part of this firm with an established reputation, you’re going to be upright and honest when dealing with clients,” Day stated. “I think our firm, from my perspective, [has] established that and I’m proud to be associated with it.”
She is also proud to continue to build on the legacy of the Day name. Once Day resigned herself to the idea of being an attorney, she was no longer afraid of working in her father or her grandfather’s shadow. She never felt pressured or compelled to do what they wanted or to follow in their footsteps. Neither man pressured her to become an attorney or to work specifically for WPDN. Erica Day just happens to be a good attorney and good attorneys want to work for Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville.
“I think we’re called ‘Wyoming’s Law Firm’ because we are folks that were born and raised in Wyoming and we like doing business here,” Day said. “We like working here and we’re happy to represent everybody in Wyoming that we work with, giving them the best legal representation that we can and making sure that they are honestly and fairly represented through the system.”
Those are things that Day learned early on, not just from her father but from the rest of the WPDN attorneys as well.
“It’s definitely been interesting working with my dad, and getting to see him as not only my father but as my partner,” Day said. “We don’t have a ton of cases together right now and I think he’s always been careful to encourage me to get mentorship from the other attorneys in the firm and make sure I can see how other folks are doing things. But I really enjoy working with him. There’s a reason why I ended up at WPDN.”
Legacy is a tough word to define. It’s an even tougher thing to live up to. But Erica Day has not only honored her father and grandfather’s legacy; she’s built one of her own.
“[From] every court reporter that I don’t know, the first question will always be ‘Am I Dick’s granddaughter or Stuart’s daughter?’” Day said. “But I don’t mind that. They’ve done a great job in their legal practice and I’m proud that I can say, ‘Yes, I’m Dick’s granddaughter and I’m Stuart’s daughter. I am proud to learn from them and proud to work with them.”
Though Erica didn’t get to work with her grandfather as much as she would have liked to, she can still feel his presence throughout the halls of WPDN. He has built a legacy that his son and his granddaughter have continued to build upon. And if Dick was here today and could say one thing to his granddaughter, “He’d probably say, ‘Let’s go get a scotch,’” Day laughed. “But I think that he would be very glad that I am at WPDN. He put a lot of himself into this firm and it mattered a lot to him. I am very happy to follow in his footsteps.”
|PAID FOR BY WILLIAMS, PORTER, DAY, AND NEVILLE
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