Contributed by Kathy Werner Collins
Upon graduating, I worked for about four years in Cincinnati at a firm that was then Helmer, Lugbill and Whitman (along with classmate Amy Larson). It was a small firm focusing primarily on employment related issues, with an emphasis on False Claims Act litigation and representing whistleblowers in that arena. In 1993 I moved to Las Vegas and Bill Werner and I married the following year. (Yes that was our wedding picture that was featured in one of the reunion posts earlier!). When I was first in Las Vegas, I practiced for about 4 years at the firm of Lefebvre and Barron, which is an insurance defense firm. Not necessarily an area I found to be my cup of tea but the firm allowed me to have a relatively flexible schedule which was wonderful as my two sons were born during that time and allowed me some extra time with them.
As you may know, John Harper had also migrated to Las Vegas by then, and after a stint in a law firm began working for the Las Vegas Police Protective Association. In 1998 he asked me to join him and for the next 16 years we worked side by side together as the two General Counsels for the Association. The Association (the LVPPA) is the employee organization that represents the rank and file police and corrections officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the City of Las Vegas Deputy City Marshals and Municipal Court Marshals. It has been fascinating work over the years.
As General Counsel, my work focuses on participating in contract negotiations between the Association and the LVMPD to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement setting forth the wages and benefits for our officers. I also represent the officers in disciplinary hearings before a variety of boards and am regularly on call to represent officers who have been involved in “officer involved shootings” as there is an immediate homicide investigation that commences as soon as the shooting occurs. As you can imagine, this part of my practice has allowed me to see some of the more “interesting” areas of Las Vegas that I am sure I would otherwise probably never have ventured into! The shootings normally occur in the dead of night and once called out you can expect to be out for some 8-10 hours. The Association recognizes the demand of on-call work as gives the attorneys a very flexible work schedule to compensate for it, which has really been fortunate for me as a parent. The work has been very rewarding over the years. Most of the officers I have the opportunity to represent are great men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities. We recently brought in a third attorney (the former elected District Attorney of Clark County). Sadly, my dear friend John recently left to pursue some other career opportunities, but it was great to work with him all these many years. As for me I plan on being here until I retire!
In addition to working at the LVPPA, I served for 6 years as a member of the Taxicab Authority here in Las Vegas – the last 3 years serving as the chairman of the board. The TA regulates the entire taxicab industry in southern Nevada.
Personally, I mentioned before, Bill and I have two wonderful boys. Although we are no longer married, we have a pretty successful co-parenting relationship. Our oldest son Nick (19) just graduated high school and is on his way to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo this fall where he will be majoring in Aerospace Engineering. (Obviously he got my Dad’s and Bill’s brother’s smarts and heeded his father’s warnings about the practice of law!) Nick is also a big runner and has been on both the track and cross country teams all 4 years of high school. Our younger son Joe (15) is going into his sophomore year in high school and though not the exceptional student his brother was, does pretty well himself. He has also picked up his Dad’s love of the trumpet and plays trumpet himself in the school’s marching band, concert band and jazz band.
For me, I got married to a wonderful guy, Chris Collins, in 2007. Chris has been a police officer with the LVMPD for 30 years now! He spent a good portion of his career in SWAT (13 years) where he unfortunately suffered a number of job related injuries resulting in a VERY bad back which sidelined him from working in SWAT. Having to work a desk job, he ultimately found himself at the LVPPA as one of the full time officers assigned to the union, which is where we met. In 2006 Chris was elected to serve as the Executive Director of the Association, and in 2011 was elected for a second term. I expect he will retire at the end of this term but it looks like he may continue to work on the side after that as the lobbyist for the Association which is one of his current responsibilities.
Life has been an absolute adventure with Chris, who until we married had been a confirmed bachelor. We have a beautiful cabin in southern Utah where we fish and quad in the colorful mountains surrounding Zion and Bryce Canyon in the summertime and ski in the winter. We also have family in Denver and Tahoe which allows us even more ski time on top of the cabin. We love to golf and travel and look forward to being empty nesters in the next few years – not because we won’t miss the kids terribly, but because our golf games could really use the extra attention!
I took up running about four years ago and have now run about six half marathons. This past fall I made the leap to the world of marathon running (yes that is 26.2 miles!!) and completed my first full marathon (the California International Marathon in Sacramento) in December of 2013 (time: 4 hours and 15 minutes). I guess it must not have been that bad as I am running another one next June in the Salt Lake City area of Utah.
I am very sad that I am unable to join you all at the reunion, but we have a conflicting engagement in Phoenix the same weekend. I have thoroughly enjoyed following the reunion blog and look forward to all the stories from the upcoming weekend. (By the way – I can’t believe the Woody’s “Bar Review” plaques are gone!)