Woman digs deep to go from homeless to attorney - KCTV5

Woman digs deep to go from homeless to attorney

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STILWELL, KS (KCTV) -

No one can predict the future so when a local woman fell on hard times, she had no idea how far she'd climb later on.

Denise Farris is an attorney. Unlike others in her profession, she is among a handful who specialize in business, construction and equine law. It's a niche she enjoys because of her love of horses.

But Farris' career almost didn't happen.

"Ended up going to college very briefly. Hated it the first go around, quit, got married, had a baby, and found myself divorced and a single parent at 22," she said.

Farris went to work to support herself and her child, but her employer declared bankruptcy, leaving her virtually penniless.

"In one fell swoop I lost my apartment, I lost my car. I guess technically you could say I was homeless," she said.

Farris spent many nights on the couches of friends while looking for another job. Not only did she find a job, but she also put herself through full-time college and a law degree in 5 1/2 years.

"What I love about that experience, it was the best and worst of experiences to have because you lose everything in life and it makes you dig really deep," she said.

She also said the journey was humbling, teaching her not to judge others by the cards that life has dealt them.

"I think we're all guilty of having immediate knee-jerk reactions to people the first time we see them and haven't developed a relationship," Farris said.

Upon graduation from law school she took a job in the construction industry where she came face-to-face with blatant sexism.

"Because I was in commercial construction 25 years ago it was very much a good ol' guy's field and yeah I did run into a lot of odd situations. I can remember one client asking if they had seen me dancing at a strip bar and things like that," Farris said.

Today she runs her own law business from her home in the country. She's won many awards for her contributions and achievements over the years.

Despite the trying times where hunger was familiar and bed was a luxury, she said she'd do it all over again.

"It's a hard question to say, 'would I have done it any other way?' I think, at the time, if I had a choice I definitely would have, but looking back in terms of the value of the learning experience I don't think I would. It was very formative," Farris said.

In addition to her busy law practice, Farris sits on a number of boards and uses her personal story for when she gives motivational speeches.

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