Behind the scenes of the nationally-renowned law firm Fry & Elder resides arguably the best Oklahoma legal personnel team in the state. Not only does the staff stay on top of scheduling and appointments for Fry & Elder trial lawyers, many of them help ensure that the firm’s attorneys are organized and prepared for anything they might see before and during trial.
“They are outstanding,” Fry & Elder partner M. Shane Henry said of the team. “Any success we have as trial lawyers and as a firm is directly related to them. They are absolutely a very important and integral part of the team we have here in place at Fry & Elder.”
At the very core of the best Oklahoma legal personnel team is the firm’s financial paralegal Joyce Caldwell, project coordinator Allison Smith, paralegals Judy Willits, Deborah Lauderdale, Kathy Keener and immigration law legal assistants Esther Salas and Rosie Renteria. Amy Figueroa also recently joined the team as a legal assistant.
Stability and experience are the hallmarks of any elite team, and Fry & Elder’s legal personnel team has nearly a combined 100 years of experience working with the prestigious Oklahoma law firm. Caldwell and Willits account for over 80 of those years.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Caldwell, who began working for the firm under the late C. Lawrence Elder. “There is always something going on and every day is different. It’s still very rewarding and fulfilling for me to assist individuals who need legal assistance.”
Willits, who serves as Robert G “Hap” Fry Jr.’s paralegal, said it’s still a rush for her to go to court and that family law provides a different dynamic than other realms of law.
“When I came here 35 years ago, it was a real eye opener,” Willits said. “This type of law brings out a lot of emotion and is heavy in litigation. I like it because I’m kind of the shoulder to cry on for a lot of our clients.”
Smith, meanwhile, serves the firm’s legal project coordinator and is the younger sister of Fry & Elder partner Aaron D. Bundy. She coordinates many of the firm’s efforts and recently served as the program director for the 4th Annual Oklahoma Bar Association Family Law Section Trial Advocacy Institute this past summer.
“There’s always a lot going on here, but there is no other team or law firm I’d rather be a part of than Fry & Elder,” Smith said. “Everybody I work with is great and ready to help out one another.”
“Much of the growth we have had over the past couple of years is a direct result of their hard work,” Rivas said. “They are absolutely great assistants.”
Lauderdale has worked as Henry’s paralegal for a number of years, and Keener has proved to be invaluable as attorney T. Luke Barteaux’s paralegal the past few years. Figueroa works for Bundy as his legal assistant.
“I have tremendous respect and admiration for what each one does to help the firm and myself out,” Barteaux said of Fry & Elder’s elite Oklahoma legal personnel team. “They thrive and excel in handling a number of different demands and situations that are thrown at them. They’re irreplaceable and we are very happy to have them here at Fry & Elder.”