Getting to Know the Women of MacPherson Law: A Conversation with Attorney Ashleigh MacPherson

Though it is difficult to pin her down for things like this, we finally convinced Attorney Ashleigh MacPherson to answer a few questions about herself and her work at MacPherson Law. Read on to see why we feel fortunate to have her as the leader of our legal team at MacPherson Law.

Tell us a little bit about you and your family.

I am the youngest of three daughters and have an extremely close family. My parents, Gary and Peggy Shaffer, were both Nixa natives I feel fortunate to be raising my own children as the fourth generation in that same wonderful community. My husband, David, and I met while I was still in high school. Thankfully he was a patient guy and was willing to wait for me to accomplish my goals of education before we tied the knot. Together we have two wonderful boys, Jack, 7, and Patrick, 3. They remind me every day to not take myself too seriously.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment so far?

Becoming a mother would be the obvious answer. Raising children to become decent, contributing members of society is no small feat—but I am not sure that I can exactly claim to have “accomplished” that yet. After all, my boys are barely out of toddlerhood so they are still very much a work in progress. One day, of course, I hope to claim my children as my greatest accomplishment.

From a professional standpoint, I would say that establishing my own firm in January 2014 would be my biggest accomplishment thus far. I had thought about it for a long time, but was reluctant to make the move until my then partner (and mother-in-law) was at a place in her career where my leaving would not impact her negatively. I knew that I owed her that consideration and respect for all that she had done for me. As it turns out, she was also thinking about leaving private practice to seek judicial appointment and so the timing was perfect for both of us. That’s not to say that it was easy. In fact, it has been quite a challenge, but completely rewarding and the best decision I have ever made.

Who has been an important mentor to you?

I was incredibly blessed to have my mother-in-law, Cynthia MacPherson, as my mentor for my first six years in practice. When she invited me to join her firm, she explained that her goal was to demonstrate how to enjoy both financial success and personal balance as a wife, mother and steward for the community. This balance was something, that in her opinion, the men in our profession struggled to find. Despite Cynthia’s reputation for being one of the heavy hitters among area litigators (men included), she always emphasized the importance of taking on those cases that may not be profitable or popular, but were the right thing to do. I found this advice invaluable and still aspire to follow it every day. She also taught me to work smarter, not harder, to read the rules at least twice (and sometimes three times) and to make friends with the clerks because they are often the only ones who know what is going on.

What inspires you?

I make it a point to read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” at least once every couple of years. The story never ceases to inspire and humble me. Apart perhaps from George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life, it is my opinion that Atticus Finch is the most inspirational character ever written. His description of courage—“It’s when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what,”—can put anything in perspective, in even the darkest of times. My father and late mother gave me a signed copy of the book when I passed the bar exam. It is, and most likely will be, the most meaningful gift I have ever received.

What’s something about you that not many people know?

I am an artist at heart. I love design, photography, architecture, fashion and basically anything that requires a creative eye. The law doesn't allow for much creativity in the traditional sense, so I channel my creativity through the marketing of our firm: I built our website, designed our office interiors, and recently designed a new print marketing campaign. I love being able to balance my right and left brain in this way because I know that I'd never be satisfied by using only one of them.

What is the best advice you ever got — or best advice you have to offer?

As a young girl, I remember seeing a poster hanging in our local barber shop that said, “the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.” For some reason, this idea really resonated with me. I think that oftentimes it is easy to focus only on how situations can benefit you—this is true in both professional dealings and personal matters—and we are all guilty of it. But there is no other feeling like the joy that comes from doing something for someone else without any expectation of anything in return.

What is the best thing about your job?

My staff and I are blessed to be able to offer guidance to others during times that are difficult and often stressful for them. Many of our clients are facing tremendous physical or financial hardship due to an accident or disability, and to be able to relieve some of that burden is very fulfilling. I am also very fortunate to work with women who set high standards for themselves in their work. We believe that our clients deserve compassionate, experienced and responsive counsel, and we strive to live up to that ideal every day.

Has there been a case that was especially meaningful for you?

Every case has its own challenges and rewards; however, my wrongful death practice is probably my most fulfilling. After losing my mother in an automobile accident in 2012, I was not sure that I would want to continue working on fatality claims. However, not long after that, I was contacted by three exceptionally kind women who had lost their mother while she was in the care of a third party. To make matters worse, the third party had been dishonest with my clients about the circumstances surrounding their mother's death.

Unfortunately, Missouri law limits the recovery available in claims such as this one, so I knew that my clients would very likely be undercompensated for their loss. It was difficult to handle the emotion I felt while working with these women on this terribly tragic case, but in the end we were able to recover not only a sizable settlement but also a formal apology from the party at fault. I am not sure if it was because I saw myself and my sisters in these women, or if it was just because it was my first wrongful death claim following my mother's death, but this claim impacted me a great deal and remains one of the most fulfilling cases of all my years in practice.