Two pass Idaho bar, come home to practice
June 4, 2013
Two long-time Bonners Ferry residents recently
passed the Idaho State Bar exam and, after years
of study and hard work, earned the right to
practice law. One came home to begin a new
career, the other never left.
Andrakay Pluid, now attorney and assistant city
manager for Bonners Ferry, grew up knowing the
path she is now set on.
"I was always arguing," she said. "Becoming an
attorney has been my career goal for as long as
I can remember ... except once when I was five,
and wanted to be a baker!"
Pluid, the daughter of Rex and Shelly
Hoisington, Bonners Ferry, was home schooled
until she entered Bonners Ferry High School her
sophomore year. She graduated in 2007 and went
on to the University of Idaho, where she earned
a political science degree, and then to the U of
I College of Law, where she earned her Juris
Doctorate in December, 2012.
Along the way, she married Mark Pluid, who,
along with his dad, Rob, owns Pluid Logging. She
always knew she'd be coming back to Bonners
Ferry, though for a considerable time she wasn't
sure what she'd be doing.
"Most law school graduates want to go to a big
firm and make a ton of money," she said. "That
wasn't that important to me. I wanted to
practice in Bonners Ferry, not in a cubicle in
Boise. This is where I plan to raise my family.
I wasn't sure if I could get a job, but it
So well, in fact, she started out as a legal
intern for the City of Bonners Ferry in
December, well before sitting for the bar exam
in February. When she was notified in April that
she'd passed, she replaced Coeur d'Alene
attorney Will Harrington as city attorney, and
the fit, she said, is perfect.
"I love law," she said. "It fascinates me. It's
different every day, and its fun to see what you
Her main interest, she said, is in prosecution,
and her position with the city gives her the
opportunity to practice that aspect of law, but
it also gives her the opportunity to practice a
diverse range; from civic and municipal to land
use law. While nothing precludes her from going
into private practice, she said, her focus right
now is on serving the city.
"It's a blessing," she said. "I get to practice
prosecution, but you have to have a little of
everything to work here."
It took Tom Bushnell considerably longer to
decide what he wanted to be when he grew up, and
he arrived by a much more circuitous path.
In high school, he worked in a warehouse, and
for more than 30 years he made a living for his
family by hard work as a logger, landscaping
contractor and more. When his back gave out on
him ... twice ... he could have given up, but he
Instead, he became a lawyer.
And he kept right on working through law school,
a four-year course he took on his computer, in
his own home.
"It's not for everyone," he said, "but it's
considerably more affordable and it let me stay
home, keep working and take care of my family."
No matter where he was or what he was doing, he
said, his greatest satisfaction always came by
standing up for and helping others.
He keeps a picture in his office at Tim Wilson's
law firm on Main Street, Bonners Ferry, of him
making a comical strangled face as his wife of
nearly 32 years, Sherry, holds a firm grip on
his tie, an accouterment he'd seldom worn until
his shift from blue collar to white.
"That was my motivation," he said.
Together, they have eight surviving children,
they suffered the loss of one who died. They
have a child who suffered a stroke at birth, and
raised three adopted special needs children. A
picture of all of them, now including two grand
children, stands right next to the one of Tom
and Sherry making funny.
Not only did they raise their family; they home
schooled each child. So it came as little
surprise that Sherry turned to "home schooling"
via computer to earn her own credentials as a
certified midwife, now delivering babies from
Bonners Ferry to
Libby, or that Tom turned to home schooling to
pursue a Juris Doctorate.
For a time, Tom and Sherry even home schooled
About a year after he began his course of study,
Tom found a mentor, a local man who'd grown up
here steeped in law but who became a Top Gun
fighter pilot, serving a career in the Marine
Corps before returning home and following in the
footsteps of both his father and grandfather.
Shortly after Tim Wilson hung out his shingle,
Tom began working for him as an intern.
It was a perfect fit.
"Tim is a mentor, and wonderful to work with,"
While the computer at his home gave him access
to course materials and lectures from the most
brilliant minds in law teaching today, his
hard-won degree lacked one thing; certification
by the American Bar Association, a lobby so
powerful it tells most states, including Idaho,
who can be attorneys, which attorneys are
qualified to judge, and only ABA certified
schools can give access.
Only California and Wisconsin open the doors to
non-ABA educated Juris Doctors to sit the exan,
so in 2011 Tom traveled to the Golden state, sat
the bar and passed.
He returned to Idaho, applied to sit the Idaho
bar as an attorney licensed in another state,
and was denied.
He appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, and won
a waiver, and sat the test at the same time as
Andrakay ... and passed.
When he came home, his name was printed on Tim
"It was amazing," he said. "While I was going
through school, Tim gave me cases. When I took
the tests, it seemed that every time I turned
the page, it was something Tim had schooled me
While Tom has great respect for kids, like
Andrakay, who grow up knowing where they plan on
going, he thinks there's something cool when old
farts, like he and Tim, who retired after a
career as a Top Gun Marine fighter pilot, come into a career later in
"We have fun," he said, showing off the key fob
his kids gave him; "Trust me, I'm a lawyer!"
"Do you know the difference between a catfish
and a lawyer?" he asked. "One is a scum-sucking
bottom feeder. The other is a fish."
"I'm not a fish!" Wilson said (he wasn't quite
ROLF, but appeared close), "But I am
absolutely amazed by these two. They are going
to be excellent attorneys who will serve their
"I have 30 years' experience not being a
lawyer," Tom said.
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