How Wheaton Prepared Me to Practice Law

Posted May 25, 2017 by
Tags: Young Alumni The Liberal Arts

Stephanie Althoff Lamphere

Wheaton College was profiled as "The Hottest Christian College of 2006" in Newsweek magazine when I was searching for colleges, and the article caught my attention. Wheaton was the only Christian college I applied to or visited, and from the moment I stepped on campus, I knew something was different from the other colleges I was considering.  

Looking back now, it is so clear to me that the Holy Spirit was present in every moment of that visit and was leading me to attend, through every interaction with students and faculty, starting with the moment I sat in on Dr. Sarah Borden's Philosophy 101 class. I knew Wheaton would effectively prepare me to incorporate my faith into every aspect of my personal and professional life and that would be incredibly important during my formative collegiate years. I learned valuable lessons about faith, work, and life from my professors and mentors in the political science department and from my coaches and instructors in sports and the Conservatory of Music that prepared me well for my graduate school and professional experiences.  

After graduating from Wheaton, I attended Pepperdine Law School in Malibu, California where I was actively involved with the Christian Legal Society and moot court competitions in the United States and Hong Kong. While at Pepperdine, I also worked as a law clerk at Beach Cowdrey Owen, LLP in Southern California and completed two internships: one with a Federal Judge in the Northern District of Illinois, and another as a certified law clerk at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office (Compton Branch), where I appeared in state trial court.  

When I graduated from Pepperdine, I moved back to Minnesota with my husband Paul, where I passed the Minnesota Bar exam. The first position I accepted was in government administration at the Minnesota State Capitol as the lead staff member for the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives. It was amazing to have the opportunity to put my Wheaton political science degree to work as I navigated the intricacies of policy making at the state level. Following the close of the 2015-16 biennium, I transitioned into private practice. I currently practice law in Minneapolis at Messerli & Kramer P.A., in the Collections & Creditors Remedies practice group. As a civil litigator, my days are consumed by regular court appearances in state and federal court. I find a deep sense of fulfillment appearing in Court throughout the Twin Cities metro area on behalf of my clients (mainly banks, creditors and other businesses) and getting to know other attorneys and judges on a daily basis.

Stephanie with Judge Joan Erickson

As an attorney, there is pressure to perform at an incredibly high level, stereotypically involving late nights and weekends, which inevitably makes work-life balance a daily challenge. Recognizing this reality, Paul and I have made involvement in our local church and time with each other top priorities, despite the demands of both our jobs. While the occasional late night or weekend is still necessary, we have experienced God's faithfulness as we have consistently put Him first.

Wheaton taught me to go into the world boldly and confidently, knowing God has called me to glorify Him in all I do. Having the security of my faith allows me to have peace each time I walk into the courtroom. When the outcome of the case has not yet been decided and I find myself pressured by challenging questions from a judge or an aggressive line of questioning from opposing counsel, I remind myself in those moments that I am not only representing my client and my firm, but I am most importantly representing God. Having prepared to the best of my ability for each hearing, I am able to surrender the outcome. I may not "win" 100 percent of the cases that I handle, but I trust and know that God's definition of success is wildly different from what the world may lead me to believe. He has never failed to be faithful.

If you're thinking about attending Wheaton, be prepared to be challenged and to grow your faith in ways you've never before imagined. Be open to new classes and experiences you may not have previously considered—I found my major by enrolling in Introduction to American Politics with the expectation I was just fulfilling a general education requirement.  If you are a current student, go all in; do all you can to develop relationships with mentors and friends and take advantage of all that Wheaton has to offer in and outside of the classroom. As a political science major who was heavily involved in the ( Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble) and sports ( women’s club lacrosse), I cannot emphasize this enough! My involvement in various organizations at Wheaton including Christian Service Council (Thanksgiving Basket Outreach and Angel Tree Ministry), BreakAway (Savannah, Georgia), The Wheaton Record, and Discipleship Small Groups enriched my experience beyond my wildest expectations.

If you're an alumnus or alumna, count your blessings and remember to touch base with and pray for your classmates as we are all scattered throughout the nation and world. You never know when one of them may be experiencing a time of spiritual need. Whenever I feel I am lacking motivation or purpose, my former peers and classmates serve as models of what it looks like for us all to work “For Christ And His Kingdom.”

Stephanie and Allison Althoff with PGR at graduation

Stephanie Althoff Lamphere ’11 (above, at left) majored in political science with a minor in communication. She obtained her J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, and is currently practicing law in Minneapolis, MN at Messerli & Kramer P.A., in the Collections & Creditors Remedies practice group with Bar Admissions to the Supreme Court of Minnesota and the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Stephanie has also worked as an associate attorney at a criminal defense firm in Minneapolis and as the lead staff member for the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives during the 2015-2016 biennium. Photo captions (from top): Stephanie at her swearing-in to the Federal District of Minnesota with Judge Joan Ericksen in January 2017; Above, Stephanie (at left) with President Ryken and her twin sister, Allison, at Wheaton College graduation in 2011.

To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and alumni are able to contact advisers or mentors to learn from their experiences.