Discovery with Kathryn "Kass" Harstad

Kass Harstad traded in an office on the 81st floor of the Sears Tower for one above a Skechers store, and it has made all the difference

Published in 2017 Mountain States Super Lawyers magazine

By Kathryn "Kass" Harstad on June 12, 2017

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My nickname is … The kids used to add “-hole” at the end of my first name. Luckily, I outgrew that
after graduating high school.

My colleagues would be surprised to know that … when I was little, my parents made me sign contracts. If I wanted to borrow money (at 6) or the car (at 16), I had to write and sign a contract—some were in crayon.

When I was a newbie lawyer … I worked on the 81st floor of the Sears Tower. Now I work above a Skechers store. But I’m way happier. 

The lawyer I most admire is … my dad. He was always cordial to opposing counsel. After he died, a family friend told me that he yelled at opposing counsel once. The next day, he called the lawyer back to apologize. 

My career high point (so far) … has been forcing a company to change its employment practices and terminate supervisors who harassed our Latino clients. 

If I weren’t a lawyer I’d … be a law librarian. I LOVE research books.

The SCOTUS justice I’d like to meet is … Justice Blackmun, because you can see from his opinions that he—like the law—evolved over time. 

The quality I most like in a lawyer is … a sense of humor. It makes litigation easier. 

A different practice area that intrigues me is … tax law. It’s so nitpicky, I think I’d love it. 

My favorite word is … “peripatetic.” Or “lachrymose.” Or “lucre.” I love words. Growing up, we’d have the Oxford English Dictionary at the dinner table to find interesting words.

I met my spouse … after he was buried—and medically died—in an avalanche. My sister’s fiancé resuscitated him. My soon-to-be brother-in-law and future husband grew so close, he was invited to the wedding, where I met him. 

I can’t believe more people haven’t read … Shadow Divers, by Robert Kurson. It’s about two deep sea divers who found a German U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey. 

I get angry when … I lose at chess. So I stopped playing chess.

The funniest thing I witnessed in a courtroom … was when someone in the gallery forgot to turn off her phone, and when she got a call, the phone started quacking like a duck. It was in the early days of cell phones, so no one knew what was happening. 

My guilty pleasure is … reading People while getting a pedicure.

My favorite song lyric is … the refrain from Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” I think the song is about being a plaintiff’s lawyer. 

I wish I had invented … When I was about 5, I did come up with the idea of air bags, but I lacked the wherewithal to get them to production.  

The movie line I quote most often is … “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” – The Outsiders

The last TV show I binge-watched was … Shameless. Ian and Mickey are the best couple on TV. 

Practicing law is … the best job on earth, because we get paid to think. 

If I won the lottery I’d … open a pro bono law firm. Or travel the world.

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