“It’s hard to see someone in need and walk away,” said workers’ compensation attorney Kristina B. Thompson, an associate at the Raleigh- based, Jernigan Law Firm.
It’s a trait she picked up from her father who is a computer programmer turned minister and mother who is an educator. “They’ve always helped people, all the time. Giving back is a large part of my upbringing. Taking on the corporations and fighting for injured workers satisfies my drive to meet those needs,” said Thompson.
Thompson is from High Point where her mother is a middle school teacher and her father is the senior minister at Laurel Oak Christian Church.
Thompson earned her Bachelor of Arts in French and international studies at UNC Chapel Hill.
After college, she volunteered as a guardian ad litem advocate while considering a career in social work or law school. “I got to see a snippet of what it’s like to be a social worker … and felt like my skill set and interests were better suited for the law,” said Thompson.
“Workers’ compensation is similar to social work in some respects. I’m advocating for my clients, making sure they get the benefits they are entitled to, be it medical benefits or making sure their interests are represented in court.”
Thompson earned her Juris Doctor from NCCU’s Evening Program while she worked at Employment Law Research (Larson’s Workers’ Compensation) and later the Jernigan Law Firm. She is a N.C. State Bar board certified legal specialist in the field of workers’ compensation.
Listen to the Whole Story
Thompson enjoys listening to clients, whether on the phone or in-person, and giving them an opportunity to find a compassionate ear, as well as an advocate.
“Getting an attorney on the phone is the first time many injured workers find someone to listen to their whole story instead of being told that their issue falls in someone else’s department,” explained Thompson. “As lawyers, we are going to put the whole case together holistically and say, this is what’s going on and these are our next steps. But, for the first hour, I’m just listening.”
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation process can be slow. Thompson tries to hasten the process just by picking up the phone, especially to speak with the employer, “I want to make sure we can all get on the same page as quickly as possible. Communication and professionalism are the keys to resolving an issue.”
Learning Every Day
“I like that every day I’m learning about different careers … from someone who works at a local aircraft engine plant, a poultry plant, or professional sports,” said Thompson. The firm has represented players for the Carolina Hurricanes and other professional athletes.
“We love to get outdoors on the weekends,” said Thompson. Her husband, Curtis, is an attorney at Moore and Alphin. They met at NCCU Law School. Their daughter, Raina, is four years old. Favorite hiking spots include Linville Gorge and the Grayson Highlands. Tess, their golden retriever, is a frequent member of the expeditionary party. She was a rescue from the Wake County Animal Shelter nine years ago. The Thompsons also served as volunteers and fosters for the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue.
Thompson is a fixture at legal networking events such as bar lunches and bar socials. She is treasurer of the Wake Women’s Association of Lawyers. “Lennie (Jernigan) encouraged me to get involved in things early in my legal career.”
She also works with the lawyer support committee of the Wake County Bar that communicates with bar members who might need support. “We reach out on a personal level. It really helps add a personal touch to the bar,” said Thompson.