With a unanimous vote, the Wahpeton City Council approved appointing an assistant city attorney.

Chelsey Stoppleworth, 27, was sworn into office Tuesday, Feb. 16 by Wahpeton City Attorney Brittany Hatting. Stoppleworth, originally from Gwinner, North Dakota, has been a member of the Lies, Bullis and Hatting firm since September 2019. Her fourth anniversary with the Army National Guard will be in April 2021.

“It’s a good opportunity to be involved in the community, a great opportunity to help out the city and be more involved in their activities,” Stoppleworth said.

Stoppleworth’s immediate responsibilities will include handling prosecution for the city of Wahpeton. Hatting said the position allows opportunities to get to know city employees and is ideal for an attorney like Stoppleworth.

“Chelsey’s been an asset to the firm and to the city of Wahpeton,” Hatting said.

The recipient of a juris doctorate degree from the University of North Dakota, Stoppleworth was recently sworn in as a judge advocate general (JAG). She’s received congratulations from her local peers, including Hatting and Erica Chisholm, both of whom were previously assistant city attorneys.

Hatting, Chisholm and Stoppleworth are three of the several women practicing law in Wahpeton. Securing full and equal participation of women in the legal field and justice system is a mission of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession.

The commission co-sponsored “You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Racial and Gender Bias in the Legal Profession,” a study whose results were published in 2018.

“At the end of the day, diversity and inclusion is all about talent management,” said Jean Lee, president and CEO of The Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

Hatting agrees, speaking proudly about the great talent among the city attorney’s office.

“We are lucky to have found Chelsey, who is naturally talented, and that she is being able to harness that taken for the good of the city,” Hatting said. “I feel very proud, especially that she chose to seek us out.”

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