When Keisha Oxendine was in her last year of law school at the University of Idaho, her mother died and she stepped into the role of mother for her 15-year-old sister while also caring for her own newborn.
Oxendine’s philosophy on life and career — based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s observation that “you gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do” — saw her through. She graduated as scheduled in 2007 and tackled the next challenge, to find a job as the nation was entering the Great Recession.
Her hometown of Wallace was in economic decline, but that didn’t deter Oxendine. The community needed lawyers, and so she set up a private practice there that focused on estate planning, business law and civil litigation. Within a year, she also began working as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Shoshone County.
Both parts of the practice t with Oxendine’s commitment to serve others.
“As a prosecutor, you have the ability to make decisions that directly impact safety in the community,” she said. “I felt it was one of the ways I could give back.”
Also fulfilling is helping people prepare their wills and navigate probate court after the death of a loved one, especially in an area where there are few attorneys, Oxendine said.
Oxendine, who began her legal career at age 16 working as an assistant for a Wallace attorney, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and justice studies from the University of Idaho. During college, she served as an advocate for crime victims.
In 2012, at the age of 30, Oxendine was elected as Shoshone County’s prosecuting attorney, the first woman elected to that position. Her duties include prosecuting crimes, giving legal advice to county agencies, representing them in civil cases and training law enforcement and prosecutorial personnel.
The private practice Oxendine started after graduation is now called Silver Valley Law and provides help on civil matters so residents don’t have to travel outside the area to find legal assistance. In her free time, she continues to consult with clients on civil matters.
“A lot of people are not pleased with you when they see you in court,” Oxendine said about her work as a prosecutor. “It’s rewarding when you can help people in a different way.”
In addition, Oxendine has found time to start an internship program that mentors high school seniors interested in law careers, volunteer as a scholarship counselor at a local high school, coach girls’ basketball and serve on the board of various professional and civic groups.
Oxendine does all that while raising four children, ages 6 to 13, with her husband. Benjamin Allen, a partner in Silver Valley Law and a deputy prosecuting attorney, said everything Oxendine does is a “selfless endeavor” that makes the community a better place to live.
“The thing that stands out is her ability to balance so many tasks and responsibilities in her life while keeping the greater good of the community in mind,” Allen said.