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The 2010s Part Two: The most recent decade

The most recent decade has ushered in many young attorneys, a majority of whom are still with the Firm today.

Quinn Fylling served as law clerk to both the Southwest Judicial District and the Honorable Dan Hovland prior to joining the Firm. He focuses his practice on litigation, commercial transactions, and creditor’s rights.

Prior to joining the Firm, Jack Zuger was in private practice in Bismarck. Zuger focuses on insurance defense, personal injury and wrongful death, and business and contract disputes. He recently graduated from the International Association of Defense Counsel’s Trial Academy; a program designed to help attorneys further develop trial advocacy skills.

Kirsten Tuntland was a law clerk to both the Honorable Dan Crothers and the Honorable Charles Miller. She practices in the areas of education law, employment law, and civil litigation.

Andy Askew was an intern with Senator Byron Dorgan, in addition to being a law clerk for the Honorable Dale Sandstrom prior to joining the Firm. Askew focused his practice on business and commercial litigation, administrative law, and civil litigation, in addition to serving as a lobbyist. He has since accepted a position as the Vice President of Public Policy at a regional healthcare provider.

Krista Thompson was a law clerk to the Honorable Dale Sandstrom and the Honorable Judges of the South Central District. She focused her practice on general civil litigation. She has since went back to clerking for the State District Judges in Bismarck.

The 2010s Part One: The most recent decade

The most recent decade has ushered in many young attorneys, a majority of whom are still with the Firm today.

Ramona Garcia-Furlong was a registered nurse who worked in critical care before pursuing her legal career. She was experienced in medical malpractice and general litigation. She went on to found her own private practice.

Rachel Bruner served as a law clerk to the Honorable Dan Hovland prior to joining the Firm. She focuses her practice on school law and wrote an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the National School Board Association. She was recently appointed by Governor Burgum to the North Dakota Parole Board.

Christina Sambor was a senior fellow with Polaris Project, worked as a law clerk, and was an associate attorney for a local firm before joining Pearce Durick. She was a 2014 Bush Fellow and used the opportunity to address human trafficking issues in North Dakota. She recently opened her own law and consulting practice in Bismarck.

Charles Carvell joined the Firm after a career in state government, during most of which he was Director of the Attorney General’s Division of Natural Resources and Indian Affairs, serving under Attorneys General Spaeth, Heitkamp, and Stenehjem.

Prior to joining the Firm, Ben Keup worked as a landman in western North Dakota and eastern Montana. He focuses his practice on property law, contracts, oil and gas, and estate planning and probate. He is active in the community through coaching his sons’ baseball and hockey teams.

After working for North Dakota’s non-profit civil legal services organization, Meredith Vukelic joined the Firm. She focuses her practice on education law and labor and employment law and is the Firm’s primary special education attorney. She also enjoys opportunities to present to groups on education and employment matters.

The 1990s: A decade of stability

During the 1990s Michael McMahon and Jeff Transtrom joined the Firm.

Michael McMahon was in private practice for a number of years in Bismarck before moving back to his hometown of Helena, MT. there he opened a practice before he ran for and won a District Judgeship in Helena.

Jeff Transtrom went on from his time with the Firm to be an assistant states attorney and also spent some time with the Insurance Department. He is currently in the JAG Corps with the Navy.

The 1980s Part Two: A decade of growth

The 1980s saw a number of attorneys join the Firm, many of which stayed for a number of years. These attorneys include Joel Gilbertson, Joy Wezelman, Larry Dopson, Dave Reich, Steve Easton, Jackie Pierce, Jerry Kettleson, Gary Thune, Larry Boschee, Lawrence Bender, and Janet Seaworth.

Jerry Kettleson served as assistant U.S. Attorney prior to joining he Firm. He was also active in various legal advisory groups and committees during his career. He stayed with the Firm until his retirement in 2012.

Gary Thune began his career in education as a math teacher and worked his way into school administration. He later went back to his law degree and focused his practice on school law. Thune was the first North Dakotan to hold the office of chairman of the National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys.

Larry Boschee began his legal career as a law clerk to a federal judge in Fargo. He later joined the Firm and has become known as a leading litigation attorney in several areas. Boschee is a sustaining member of the Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC) and a fellow of both the Litigation Counsel of American and the American Bar Foundation.

Lawrence Bender was an assistant attorney general and counsel for the North Dakota Industrial Commission, Oil and Gas Division and Board of University and School Lands prior to joining the Firm. He has since moved on to a different private practice in the area.

Janet Seaworth served as legal counsel and as a lobbyist for the North Dakota Beer Wholesalers Association during her time with the Firm. She was also an advocate for women’s economic well-being.

The 1980s Part One: A decade of growth

The 1980s saw a number of attorneys join the Firm, many of which stayed for a number of years. These attorneys include Joel Gilbertson, Joy Wezelman, Larry Dopson, Dave Reich, Steve Easton, Jackie Pierce, Jerry Kettleson, Gary Thune, Larry Boschee, Lawrence Bender, and Janet Seaworth.

Joel Gilbertson began his legal career in private practice in Bowman, ND. He went on to serve as a staff attorney for the Joint Procedures Committee and the North Dakota Supreme Court before becoming executive director of SBAND. He was later president of SBAND, and at that time, was the first person to serve both executive director and as president in North Dakota. Gilbertson currently has a successful government affairs firm based in Bismarck.

Joy Wezelman was with the Firm for a short time before she went on to become a Supreme Court clerk and eventually a state administrative law judge. Wezelman was and continues to be involved in the community and has won various service awards throughout the years.

Larry Dopson began his career clerking for Justice Paul sand of the North Dakota Supreme Court. He ten transitioned into private practice in the Bismarck area before joining the Firm.

Dave Reich spent many years with the Firm before accepting a judgeship with the South Central District in North Dakota. He started Runners Against Destructive Decisions as a way to invest time in healthy alternatives to aid in ending the cycle of addiction. The group organizes the Santa Run each December to build awareness in the community.

Steve Easton has a background in both law and accounting. He was the U.S. Attorney for North Dakota and worked for the Firm both before and after his time there. Easton went on to teach law after leaving private practice.

Jackie Pierce began her law career with the Firm and has since become a successful mediator and arbitrator in California.

The 1970s: A decade of prominence

The 1970s ushered in an era in which many prominent attorneys and those who are the namesake of the Firm today joined. Both Harry and Bill Pearce, and Pat and Tim Durick joined, as well as the Firm’s first female attorney, Christine Hogan. Also, during this time, the Firm relocated to its current offices in the Downtown Office Building.

Harry Pearce originally wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force but found his calling in the legal profession, he practiced as a Staff Judge Advocate before coming back to Bismarck, he was with the Firm for a number of years before General Motors, a client of the Firm, recruited him as associate general counsel. He went on to become vice chairman of GM and served on a variety of boards throughout his career.

William “Bill” Pearce had intentions of being an astrophysicist and holds a Ph.D. in the subject. Though after beginning a Fellowship at Princeton, he decided that law was his desired career. He has and continues to write articles for various legal publications.

Together the Pearce brothers had some interesting cases and those in the legal community took note, after writing a two-volume brief, new statutes were introduced to amend the approved length of a brief. They also got a statute changed via amendment by the North Dakota Legislature to add an emergency clause to the Century Code so they could bring evidence into court for a case they were working on.

Pat Durick crossed paths with Harry Pearce when they were both in the Air Force Academy. After completing his law degree and clerking for a District Judge, he joined the Firm as has been with us ever since. He has served on several committees and boards during his professional career.

Tim Durick was a special assistant attorney general with the State Tax Commission prior to opening a firm with three other Bismarck attorneys. He served as a municipal court judge in Bismarck for a time during his career. He later came to the Firm and was here until his full retirement in 2018.

Christine Hogan was a law clerk and court planner for the North Dakota Supreme Court before she joined the Firm. Additionally, she was Governor Link’s legislative assistant for a period of time, serving as a liaison between the governor’s office and the legislature. Hogan was a nationally recognized product liability attorney and argued in front of the United States Supreme Court in 2000 on the case Weisgram v. Marley Company.

The 1960s: New attorneys and a new office

The 1960s saw those attorneys who had joined during the 1950s become Partners. During this time four new attorneys joined the Firm as well: William “Bill” Murray, Harold Anderson, Curtis Schmidt, and C.B. Thames, whom everyone called Tim. The Firm also relocated to the First Federal Bank building on 4th Street and Rosser where today stands American Bank Center.

Bill Murray served his country in the military for several years and spent time overseas during various wars. Murray also established the 309th Army Reserve Band in North Dakota. He practiced with his father, J.K. Murray, and served as assistant attorney general prior to joining the Firm. He left the Firm when he was appointed to the North Dakota Supreme court.

Harold Anderson enlisted in the military and fought in World War II. He entered law school upon coming home and had his own partnership prior to joining the Firm. He went on to open a practice with his daughter, the late Sonna Anderson.

Curtis Schmidt joined the Firm directly out of law school and practiced for a number of years before moving to a law firm in the Minneapolis, MN area. He also served as a municipal judge in Bismarck during his time with the Firm.

C.B. “Tim” Thames began his career as a geologist before reading the law under W.K. Austin. He was a municipal judge in Bismarck in addition to practicing with the Firm. He eventually went back to a career in geology with Keldon Oil Co. as an exploration manager coupling his geology and law careers.

The 1950s: The Firm adds young local talent

The 1950s saw three young attorneys join the firm: Myron Atkinson, John Gunness, and Edgar Rose. It was also during this decade that Edward Cox, founding partner of the Firm,  passed away.

Myron Atkinson was a man who had a mind for both law and business. After his time with the Firm he went on to have his own practice in addition to being involved in broadcasting and television, real estate development, and banking. Atkinson was one of the founders of North Dakota Guaranty and Title.

John Gunness was heavily involved in oil and gas law. He served as the executive director of the North Dakota Petroleum Council for a time which gave him exposure to many decision makers in the industry. He went on to work for the American Petroleum Institute after leaving the Firm.

Edgar Rose had served as a county auditor for a while prior to joining the Firm. He went on to have his own practice in Bismarck for many years.

The 1940s: A new partner joins the Firm

William R. Pearce joined the firm in 1944 as a namesake partner after a period of time as an assistant attorney general. Pearce did not attend law school, but rather read the law under A.P. Paulson of Valley City, ND. He was one of the first lawyers to argue before the North Dakota Supreme Court with no formal law education.

Pearce gave the Lincoln Day speech to the joint session of the Legislature for years and did so entirely from memory. He was a very talented orator and scholar, participating in debate when he studied briefly at the University of Kentucky.

Pearce was instrumental in the expansion of the Firm, identifying many candidates to join the Firm as well as adding the oil and gas practice during North Dakota’s first oil boom.

His sons all came to work for the Firm at a point during their career as well. Harry and William as attorneys and Murray as business manager of the Firm.

The 1930s: A new associate joins the Firm

Herbert O’Hare retired from the Firm in 1939 after the tragic passing of his wife in a car accident. He spent the rest of his life with his son in Seattle.

Later in 1939 a new associate, E Forsyth Engebretson, was also added to the Firm. Engebretson was a new graduate and O’Hare, Cox & Cox was the first Firm he joined. He was with the Firm for a short period of time before he received his commission as an officer with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He served as a PT boat captain in the Philippines. Upon coming home, he rejoined the Firm and shortly after became a Partner.

Engebretson was with the Firm until his retirement in 1971. Upon his retirement he and his wife Elizabeth opened Swans of the North, a Scandinavian specialty shop.