10 Questions with Kimberly Slay

10 Questions with Kimberly Slay 

 Kimberly Slay is a partner in Maslon's litigation group. She spoke with Hennepin Lawyer about the way she likes to start her workday, her time in the public sector, and the legal podcasts she can't get enough of.

1. What is one thing you never get tired of talking about? 

I never get tired of talking about the importance of mentorship, and particularly the experienced lawyer’s obligation to mentor the next generation of lawyers. When we mentor others, we strengthen the bar and enhance our client service. 

2. Tell us about your practice area. What led you to tax litigation? 

I represent clients in product liability, insurance coverage, tax law, commercial disputes, and governmental relations. 

I began practicing in tax litigation when I became Deputy General Counsel for the Louisiana Department of Revenue. In that role, I litigated corporate and sales tax cases and managed the department’s tax litigators. I was subsequently appointed as the Chief Tax Officer for the Louisiana Department of Revenue. 

When I entered private practice, I was appointed Hearing Officer for the Louisiana Tax Commission, and in that role, I would decide tax controversies affecting businesses. When I moved to Minnesota, I was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Administrative Law and Compliance for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, managing all tax litigation for the department. 

3. You were born in Chicago, started your legal career in Louisiana, and now practice in Minnesota. What is something you love about the Midwest, and what is something you miss about the South? 

The Midwest provides me with a greater opportunity to represent fortune 100 and 500 companies in commercial litigation or tax controversy. The South provided me with the opportunity to represent several start-ups and individual taxpayers. Both the South and the Midwest are great places to practice law and I continue to practice in Minnesota and Louisiana. 

4. How do you like to start and end your workday? 

I like to start my workday by first reviewing my things to do list. This always includes ensuring that my responsibilities to existing clients are satisfied, as well as setting aside a portion of my day for marketing to potential clients. I end my workday by creating a similar list for the next business day, and sometimes for the weekend too. 

5. You’ve served in many different roles during your career. What’s your best advice for someone considering a career change? 

Decide on a career that will bring you joy every day. Helping my clients brings as much joy today as it did when I began my legal career. 

6. What is rewarding about your work? What is challenging? 

Solving clients’ legal controversies and winning their cases is extremely rewarding to me. And as a litigator, I want to win every case. Like others in my profession, my greatest challenge is making sure that I maintain a work life balance. 

7. Having served as a public servant and in private practice, what are the unique challenges and benefits of each of those professional settings? 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the public sector, and the same goes for my experience in private practice. As General Counsel for former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, I observed that public servants often solve a deluge of legal problems over the course of a day, which is not dissimilar from what private practice attorneys face. As a public servant, your caseload might be larger, but you also have the very rewarding privilege of working for the public and solving problems for the public. The caseload in private practice may look a little different, but excellent client service and the ability to focus on what is most important each day remains paramount. As in the public sector, what I appreciate most about private practice is helping clients solve complex and sophisticated problems. 

8. What is a favorite piece of advice you’ve received? 

I learned from my father to always keep your word. If you say that you are going to do something, such as to a client or a colleague, do it. Honor your word. 

9. What is one achievement—personal or professional—that you’re proud of? 

I’m most proud of raising my children. I have a son and a daughter who are both college graduates with successful careers. I’m proud that we not only taught them to aim high and be the best in their profession, but also to be confident and have humility at the same time. They are both wonderful individuals. And despite having two attorneys for parents who over-analyzed everything, they turned out amazing. 

10. What is something—book, movie, podcast, recipe, etc.—you’ve been recommending lately? 

I have been listening to Think Like a Lawyer podcast, which re-examines everyday experiences through the eyes of an attorney. I also like The Lawyerist podcast. It features attorneys, thought leaders, and legal experts who discuss legal news and hot legal topics.

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