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Tanner thrives in utilities law


Krista K. Tanner studied history and Russian during her undergraduate years at the University of Northern Iowa. Both disciplines, she says, prepared her for her current career as a lawyer.

“History is a good background for law because of all of the reading, research and writing involved,” Tanner said. “The same is true of Russian.” Both required a lot of memorization, a necessary skill for lawyers, who must know countless rules, regulations and court decisions.

Tanner, a West Des Moines native, traveled to Moscow and attended Hertzen University during the summer of 1995. She then returned to the United States and received her degree from UNI in 1996.

Tanner had planned to enter law school after graduation, but as the time neared, she found herself unsure. Instead, she got a job working for Kirke-Van Orsdel Inc., now known as KVI/Seabury and Smith Inc., a company that specializes in the design and administration of insurance and health benefit programs. During the year she spent with the company, she decided to get her law degree at Drake University.

After graduating from Drake, Tanner joined Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler & Hagan P.C. as an associate attorney. The Dickinson firm is based in Des Moines, and has an office in Washington, D.C. Tanner says it’s generally a full-service business firm. Before graduating from Drake, had been a clerk for the firm and developed an interest in telecommunications and utility law. She said she also came to like the people who worked at Dickinson, which made her choice of workplace easy.

“There is no class in law school for utilities; you just have to experience it,” Tanner said. “There are a lot of exciting public policy issues. It’s an exciting time.”

In Dickinson’s telecommunications and utility group, Tanner works with energy, telephone, wireless technology and some local Internet companies. She advises on consumer issues and contracts, and represents regulated businesses before the Iowa Utilities Board. The nature of the industry is always changing, as are the laws that govern it.

“I enjoy the challenge,” she said. “I’m never bored at work.”

When not at work, she is challenged by keeping up with her husband and 1-year-old daughter, and volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  

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