Faced with the decision between going to law school or med school, Ben Cory did the only thing that made sense: move to Costa Rica.
Cory, one of the lawyers in the Missoula office of Crowley Fleck, had just finished his undergraduate degree in psychology and pre-med at the University of Montana.
Growing up, he had influence from both the medical and legal worlds. His father was a pediatrician, but his grandmother, who had been a teacher in California, had put herself through law school when she retired and spent the rest of her career working entirely pro bono.
Cory keeps a photo of her on the desk in his office, taken when he was a child and was in a courtroom for the first time watching her work.
“She was always very proud that she never had a single client who paid,” Cory said.
What started as a three-week Spanish immersion program trip to Costa Rica with his sister became a job teaching English, which gave him the time to consider his future.
When he returned to Missoula nine months later, Cory worked drawing blood with the American Red Cross before he and his wife Kris moved to California, where he worked in a hospital.
“It was a good experience, but it taught me that med school wasn’t for me,” he said.
So it was back to UM and law school. When he graduated, Cory took his first job working under Missoula lawyer Dan Cederberg, who he called an “incredible mentor.” In 2008, Crowley Fleck recruited him to join their office, and he made partner at the firm in 2012. The company is the largest firm in the region, with 11 offices and more than 150 attorneys spread across Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.
“The cases I get to work on are big enough where you can really be able to practice the law,” he said.
At the start of this year, Cory was chosen by the partners to be one of a three-member firm management panel that oversees the entire company.
When he isn’t working, Cory said he spends most of his time with his wife and their four daughters Wylie, Maddy, Lizzy and Bella, including getting away to the family’s cabin on Placid Lake as often as he can. He said maintaining a strong work-life balance is very important to him.
“Getting a break from work allows me to clear my mind and come into the office focused and motivated to do my job and get the best results possible for my clients,” he said.