SARATOGA – Gov. Mark Gordon made his choice for Wyoming’s top lawyer in late November, when he named Saratoga native Bridget Hill to be the state’s next Attorney General.
Hill is only the second woman to be appointed Attorney General in Wyoming’s 129-year history. The first was Gay Woodhouse, from 1999 to 2001.
She comes to this high post after many years of working in state government in Cheyenne. She is currently the Director of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSL&I). This State Agency “manages four million acres of State Trust Lands spread throughout Wyoming.” She has been there for the past five years and will remain at that post until she takes over at the AG’s office at the end of this legislative session.
During this transition period, Hill will be winding up her work at the OSL&I office and while transitioning to the Attorney General’s office. As of this interview no new director of the SL&I office has been named.
Hill was born at the hospital in Laramie in 1974, to parents Jim and Cindy Hill, of Saratoga, and came home to her grandfather Frank Hill’s ranch on Spring Creek South, of Saratoga.
There she was raised as the second daughter, with her five sisters, on a working cattle and sheep ranch operated by her grandfather, father and uncle.
The whole family pitched in on the work – irrigating the hay land and fixing fences in the spring and early summer, while caring for the young calves and lambs “and feeding the bum lambs,” then helping the adults with the haying in the late summer and fall.
All winter there were animals to water and feed by wagon or sled, depending on the snow depth, and school to attend.
In the fall, said Hill, it was fair time, when “we got to go to Rawlins during fair week and see all the other kids and adults. We were out on the ranch all summer and didn’t get to town much.”
“We took only lambs,” said Hill. “We would pick the best ones from our flock and fatten them up and teach them to lead so we could control them in the show ring. We had fun, but never won the big ribbons.”
Shed added, “On the ranch we learned to work hard and stick with a job until it was done. Growing up in a small town is an asset. It gives you a core to understanding people.”
Hill was also in 4-H.
“Our group was led by Mrs. Joice Evans,” she said. “We learned to sew and make clothing. We also learned to cook. I love to cook. If I had not become a lawyer, I might have become a chef.”
She attended Saratoga public schools, graduating from Saratoga High School in 1992.
“I took high school business classes in addition to the regular classes. Education was important to us kids and our parents. We worked hard at it,” said Hill. “I loved school sports volleyball and basketball and was in school clubs, FBLA and FFA. We lived out so far and they didn’t get the county roads plowed early enough for school when it snowed, so there were snow days for us country kids.”
After high school Hill attended college at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, from 1992-1996. There, she studied accounting and graduated with a BA degree in accounting. She did take and pass the exam for certified public accountants, but never worked as an accountant. She realized that she was more interested in the law than “crunching numbers.”
After a brief break Bridget entered law school at UW in 1999 for a three-year course and graduated in 2002.
After law school she went to work as a law clerk for Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Larry Lehman, and worked for him until his death in December 2004. After Lehman’s death Hill briefly clerked for Judge Michael Golden “about six months,” while she began looking for a job as an attorney.
“Golden was a brilliant man, very scholarly and a great mentor; however, I wanted to practice law,” she said.
As word spread that Hill was looking for attorney work, Patrick Crank, the 32nd Attorney General of Wyoming, called and asked her to join the AG’s office. He needed an attorney for the Office of State Lands and Investment. OSL&I’s new director was Lynne Boomgaardner, and she asked for Hill since she had known her since law school days, when Boomgaardner was Hills’ professor in the oil and gas class.
“Wyoming is such a small place and you get to know so many people,” said Hill.
Hill remained as the attorney for the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments for seven years.
While at the AG’s office, Hill was the special projects attorney for two years, where she worked with former Gov. Matt Mead. Hill also did work for the Industrial Siting Commission, the Environmental Quality Commission, the Board of Land Commissioners, and the State Loan and Investment Board while there.
Hill’s work with Gov. Mead while at the Attorney General’s office lead to her selection as the next Director of Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments, where she would remain for five years until her recent appointment as Attorney General.
Hill met Mark Gordon while she was doing work for the Environmental Quality Commission, of which he was a member.
“My first love is the Attorney General’s office and I am glad to be returning there,” said Hill.
Hill will be sworn in as Attorney General when the 2019 Legislative Session adjourns later this month.