Associate attorney Christa D. Banfield hails from Seymour, Indiana, a Small Town made famous by the hit song by John Cougar Mellencamp. In 2000, Christa bade farewell to Indiana and headed for Arizona to get out of the cold. Three ASU degrees later, seems Phoenix was a perfect match.
In 2003, Christa obtained her first BS in Supply Chain Management, which she put to use as a business analyst for Honeywell before returning to law school. A critical thinker trained in analysis, she builds each case around an agreed-upon legal strategy to be implemented with precision, start to finish. Christa’s second BS was in Psychology, and while attending ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law she focused her classes on Law and Psychology, earning her a graduate certificate in Law, Science, and Technology. This focus on psychology gives Christa special insight into mental health concerns, child development, substance abuse, domestic violence, and other issues affecting families under stress.
Family law has been her sole focus since admission to the State Bar of Arizona (2011). Christa is respected by peers and clients alike for her in-depth knowledge and experience, stellar reputation, and highest professional ethics.
A busy lawyer raising two preschoolers, she finds balancing work while striving to put family first can be challenging. However, overcoming obstacles is one of many valuable lessons learned from her mother. “She taught me strength and independence,” characteristics that helped shape Christa into the patient, kind, empathetic, understanding fighter she is today.
In her free time, Christa enjoys hanging out with friends and getting out-and-about with family. This family loves exploring Arizona outdoors. “Camping with my hubby, two kiddos, and dog, that’s the best.” Hubby’s off-road vehicle is the perfect excuse for wilderness adventure, returning to camp just in time to toast another spectacular desert sunset.
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Hi, this is Erica Merrell, and I’m the founder of Perfect Legal Video, and I am very excited to introduce to you today for the second time Krista Banfield. She is out of Phoenix, Arizona at the Stewart Law Group. And we already had such an interesting conversation before. This time, we’re going to find out a little bit more about you personally and your relationship to family law. So welcome to the show today.
Thank you, Erica. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. So you have a really interesting story, and I know that all the lawyers from the Stewart Law Group kind of come from different backgrounds, have different specialties for personal reasons, and, you know, wanted to find out like what you went to school for. Did you do anything besides law before you got into family law?
Yeah, I did, actually. I had always thought I wanted to go to law school when I was younger, but my undergrad degree was actually in business. It was in supply chain management, and I had gotten an internship with that job at Honeywell. Large enough for the most people, I think are kind of familiar, at least with that name. And I thought I enjoyed it and I kind of thought I’d take a break on the education. And so I worked in that field for a while doing, you know, planning business admin type of things. And while I do enjoy that line of work, I like numbers, I like spreadsheets, I like things like that. I’m very big, I guess, about that kind of stuff. I didn’t enjoy it. I just it was very hard to find kind of personal satisfaction out of jobs like that, because you’re kind of a cog in a machine. So after a while, I decided I’m going to try and see if I can go to law school. So, you know, I took the LSAT applied, and when I got in, I figured that was meant to be. So I went back to law school and really made sure to kind of seek out an area of law that could provide me with that level of, you know, kind of that personal investment that was really lacking in the business world. And that’s part of what drew me into that family law.
Well, I can see that and look, I can see where your family law degree might even be more than you bargained for on excitement, and you might be a referee sometimes, but it’s definitely a way to make the days fly by. I’m sure of it.
Yeah, that’s true, and it’s actually funny you mention the referee. I have a second bachelor’s degree in psychology as well. It wasn’t something I ever pursued to work in a career in. But I, I thought it was interesting. It’s an interesting subject. I took a lot of classes in it. And I was so close to getting a double major that I just finished that did that.
So sometimes people will see that and think, oh, that’s interesting, because there is such an interplay of law and psychology when it comes to family law. In fact, in law school, I got my certificate at a law and science certificate or the addition of psychology classes that I took in there, just as it’s interesting in an area like family law, to be able to see how, you know, the personal and emotional dynamics in play can really, you know, change the course of a lot of cases that aren’t just black and white numbers by the book.
That is so interesting, because I, I feel like I’ve done some interviews where things go from being really like a friendly divorce if there’s such a thing as a friendly divorce. And then all of a sudden the tables turn because somebody’s got a new significant other or because something happened, you know, with custody or that the case didn’t quite go their way. So now there’s a totally different aura about the case.
So absolutely, sometimes I have clients who come in for a first consultation with me, and they say this will be a very easy divorce, you know, we’ve worked everything out. It’s not going to be a big deal. And I’m kind of a hope for the best, prepare for the worst person. So I let them know, you know, that’s great. It’s obviously best for everybody involved if we can make this amicable, key, disillusioned.
However, I’ve handled enough cases over my career to know that that’s not always the way it goes, just because one person thinks it’s going to go that way sometimes the other person doesn’t. They’re not quite on the same wavelength as that first person or sometimes, like you said, something just changes midstream. You know, something happens to with one of the children or, you know, somebody might go off the rails, you know, somebody gets a DUI or something like that happens. Some dramatics happen a lot in family law. So, you know, and then there’s the case where you find out that they had certain assets that you didn’t know about or they stole your grandma’s jewelry and it sold it for gambling debts. I mean, there’s a lot of drama.
You could probably write a few books about this.
Yeah, absolutely. Typically, if you’re dealing with people like that, they’re not the people who came in thinking it was going to be any distortion. Those are typically the people who come in knowing that, you know, this might be a bumpy road here.
So you were saying and I know that for some attorneys, there’s something personal involved in picking family law. And I believe you had a personal experience as well.
Yeah, so, you know, like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get an area of law that had a little bit more personal investment in it that wasn’t the same kind of business background I’ve been working in. And just prior to being admitted into law school, I had started dating my who is now my husband, and he had been divorced and he had kids from that divorce. So kind of that, you know, seeing that interplay with, you know, the custody, child support or things like that, you know, it was interesting. It sparked both the legal mind and, of course, the emotional personal side to where when I was in law school, I started seeking out, you know, friendships, clerkships, things like that in the family law world, discovered, you know, it was a really good fit for me because it was a good balance of being able to use that business side that I do like, where we’re dealing with assets, that retirement accounts, you know, sometimes business division and things like that, but also melding in the personal emotional side where you can really help people out, where, you know, the emotional part comes into play, which is the children.
Yeah, absolutely. And of course, there are people that were jilted and there are people that were cheated on, and there’s just there are definitely emotions that come up later on that people are surprised from. I mean, I know I I’m also an open book. I had a divorce. And like, you know, you still you kind of go through all these phases and you think you’re doing great. Then, you know, something happens and you’re like, oh, why am I still upset about this?
It’s been two years, you know, but I mean, that’s just the healing process people have. And that’s why having your other degree and experience is amazing, because you, I feel like, could be incredibly empathetic and have real solutions for your clients. You’re almost part therapist, part lawyer.
Absolutely. I think that all the time, even though you jokingly say the lawyer side of me comes out ahead in those times, so there’s many clients where I encourage them to seek an actual therapist to help them deal with that, because as you mentioned and as we all know, going through divorces, it’s one of the toughest things people go through. I mean, you can liken it to you going through the stages of grief after death. You know, there’s denial and bargaining and anger and acceptance. All of those same things come along with a dissolution.
So depending at what point in the phase somebody is that when they come to me, it helps me know kind of, you know, how to work with them better in their dissolution. You know, are they still angry? Do they still do some kind of process that they really move past all of that and they’re at acceptance and they just want it done, done, done, you know, quickly that it definitely makes a difference.
I mean, yes, I agree, I think it’s a really wonderful skill to have. And also, I mean, you can really use that to help people feel heard in their complaints about their ex or their pain that they’re going through, which is, as you said, one of the most painful things you can go through. It is like a death, but the other person is alive. Sometimes you wish they were maybe I don’t know what, but if I say that jokingly.
But if you look at it like you could really help people be reasonable. If they feel heard, then you’re able to counsel them better, because then you can say, you know, I totally get this is this and this.
But, you know, really, this is a reasonable offer or this isn’t reasonable. We should ask for this. And you can really give people a strategy. And you know what’s going to happen if they do this action versus that action and they’re really trying to get the best outcome for them and for the kids is the most important thing. If there are kids involved.
And yeah, and that’s, you know, really what they’re coming to me for, even though it’s good that I have a bit of a psychology background in that I can kind of understand and play out those dynamics when they’re coming to me for what frankly they’re paying me for is my legal advice. So, you know, at the end of the day, it’s good if I can be empathetic, if I could be understanding, if I could listen. But what I need to do is tell them, OK, here’s what is going to work or here’s what isn’t going to work.
Maybe here’s the range from here to here that that could end up happening. You know, I mean, that’s why they’re coming to me is to figure out, hey, you know, if that person cheated, is that going to matter? Yes or no? How will it matter? Things like that or parenting issues, you know, this or that’s going on in the other house. Will that make a difference to the court? Will it not? If it’s one thing for me to empathize as a parent, as a step-parent, things like that.
But it’s another thing that I don’t want to kind of enable somebody to go down at a dead-end road with the court where it’s not going to matter just because that’s where their emotions lie, you know. But then I can also tell them where things will matter and things that we can do that we can put into a parenting plan to really help address those concerns that they have and such.
Well, yeah, I mean, they’re not looking for a friend. And I’m sure that every client is different. Some might require more handholding than others. Some people just want to hear it like it is as short as you can and then you get on with it. But it’s nice just to see that you can really vary with the different personality types and give people what they need. Because, as you said, the essence of all of this is great legal advice in a painful and terrible situation in some cases.
Yes. I mean, that’s it in a nutshell is, you know, obviously, there’s a balancing, there’s a marrying, if you will, of, you know, the psychological and the legal. But at the end of the day, you know, people need to make sure they’re being led down the right path, legally speaking. And you can get a bad attorney. So let’s. There is bad advice out there. And so it’s great to know somebody like yourself with a track record, you know, with testimonials.
I mean, you really know your stuff and you keep up with what’s currently happening in the law, which is so important. I mean, there are some law firms where they try to cover all the law with just one or two or three attorneys.
I mean, you at this law firm have a lot of attorneys. You all have mostly family law. You’ve got some estate planning as well. But everyone seems to have a specialty within family law. So you can really bounce ideas off of each other and not worry about giving your competition information or anything like that. I really think like it’s a melting pot of great minds and it’s all about family law and estate planning goes hand in hand with that.
Yeah. So all I’ve done since I started practicing law is family law. So, you know, instead of being this jack of all trades type of attorney, where you specialize a little bit in a lot of things, I try to be the master one where I just focus, you know, laser beam on family law and keep myself abreast of, you know, new case law, new statutory law.
The rules change, things like that, to make sure when people come to me, I’m able to give them the best, most current up-to-date advice. Yeah, that is so, so important. It’s really hard to keep up with what’s happening in family law if you’re also trying to be a criminal attorney and bankruptcy and closing houses and all the other stuff people kind of try to do at once when they get desperate.
You know, you guys are really, you know, focused on this. You have a great name in the industry and in the Phoenix area for great results. And so, I mean, is there anything else you’d like to tell the audience today? Before we let you go, I mean, this was a general getting-to-know-you. And we’ve had a really fantastic interview before about family law in general. But since then, do you have any thoughts? But you’d like to share.
I don’t know for sure now.
You know, this can be edited, so. Yeah.
So in general, I think when people are going through with the solution, they want to find an attorney that, you know, I mean, obviously that they can trust, but that they can relate to. I mean, you’re sharing very personal details about your financial life, your you know, your marriage, your children, things like that with them. So you want to find somebody you trust to give you good legal advice, but also somebody you trust to just, you know, be able to be there and listen and be nonjudgmental and, you know, be able to help you through such a hard process. And I think my clients would definitely be able to report back that I was an attorney for them, that they felt comfortable with me. And, you know, not only with my legal advice, but with, you know, kind of myself as a person.
Oh, I agree. You have a lot of experience and confidence and you’re a nice person. I feel comfortable around you. I haven’t met you in person. Hopefully, someday I do. But I can absolutely see where somebody coming into your office, possibly on the worst day of their life, not knowing what’s going to happen in the future without this person, that they may be people dependent on them or they depended on, you know, not knowing what our financial picture looks like in the future or where they’re going to live even. I mean, that’s really a scary situation.
And I think it’s just at the utmost importance to sit down with somebody that has a plan for you and a strategy, especially when you may have not even gone to an attorney before. It could be nerve-wracking just walking in a law office for some people.
And, you know, in that situation, they might even be feeling a little bit embarrassed. So I’m glad that they have you to help them through a difficult process and that you have such a great mix of education to really give them the best results for them while making them comfortable.
Well, I want to thank you so much for coming on today. I mean, your insights are just spot on and really enjoyed talking to you. So I hope you’ll come back again soon.
Absolutely, thank you for having me.
You are welcome and well, we’ll see everyone later. Thanks so much for listening audience. And we hope you have a great day.