Missouri Lawyers Awards 2022: Letter from the Editor, Winners
2021 has been another incredible year for the country and, as you know all too well, for the legal industry.
As courthouses slowly reopened and court cases began to move forward again, judges and court administrators faced legal battles over masks and vaccines. And then the omicron variant threatened to block our return to the “new normal”. Yet the legal profession has continued, despite the widespread limitations this global pandemic has created.
And Missouri’s legal community has not been immune to loss of life. Lawyers and those who work alongside them in business and government have succumbed to this virulent enemy. Certainly, no community has been spared, but when the impact hits close to home, the grief runs deep.
Yet, in the face of all the disruption and tragedy encountered in this state, the Missouri legal community stands tall. Courts have created systems and alert levels that establish security protocols while working hard not to limit access. Firms have found ways to protect employees and clients while continuing to facilitate representation. While we would have wished for another way of doing it, we will have learned of necessity.
It is in this context that we celebrate and honor the outstanding work and success of so many through our 2022 Missouri Lawyers Awards.
Missouri Lawyers Media looked back at length on this incredible year to not only identify the Gladiators who scored big verdicts and settlement victories for their clients in 2021, but those whose actions in and out of the courtroom had – or will – have a significant impact on the business.
The lawyers we recognize all bear the mark of tremendous purpose and vision.
Achievement and impact.
During an ongoing pandemic with no end in sight.
Nominations for these awards were submitted across the state and from a multitude of resources. The nominations alone bear witness to the excellent work done day after day by so many dedicated men and women. But in selecting the winners, we are also witnessing the ripple effect of their work. In addition to the profession, these lawyers are committed to their communities, however defined.
They are leaders, not followers. They understand and demonstrate that service to their communities is not a by-product of success; in fact, success is a by-product of service.
On behalf of everyone at Missouri Lawyers Media, I extend our heartfelt congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Missouri Lawyers Awards. We are proud to be a part of this recognition and grateful to those honored this year.
And we, along with the rest of the world, hope for an end to the ravages of this pandemic.
Lawyers of the year
Joel Ferber Eastern Missouri Legal Services, chuck hatfield by Stinson and Lowell Pearson of Husch Blackwell, for the advocacy that ensured the expansion of Missouri’s Medicaid system.
Awarded to Personalities in the News – Missouri attorneys who have made a substantial contribution to the legal community this year.
Mary Fox of the Missouri State Public Defender System, for his efforts to reduce the system’s case backlog while persuading lawmakers to increase funding.
Rob Huq of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, which helps run both the Circuit Attorney’s Office and the University of Washington Prosecution Clinic while helping to secure major victories in court.
Rachel Rutter of the law firm Rutter, which won a hard-won victory in a difficult venue on behalf of a lesbian client who was discriminated against at the Department of Corrections.
With the winter of Kennyhertz Perry, whose expertise in sports law helped him found and lead the Sports and Entertainment Law Committee of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.
Awarded to plaintiffs or defense attorneys, not based on the size of the verdicts, but on the importance of the principle or policy involved.
Robert J. Hoffman of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Jackson County District Attorney Jean Pierre Baker and Tricia Rojo Bushnell of the Midwest Innocence Project, for their efforts to free Kevin Strickland after 43 years in prison for a triple murder he did not commit.
Ken McClain from Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, who spent more than a year on trial conducting individual arbitrations for hundreds of employees who alleged their pension plan was mismanaged.
Jay Nixon by Dowd Bennett, who put his memoir writing skills, his love of the outdoors and his knowledge as a former state governor to work on behalf of two important land conservation cases.
Pam Meanes by Thompson Coburn, Robert Bailey from the University of Missouri Law School and Casey Wang of Sandberg Phoenix, who served as co-chairs of a Missouri Bar effort to address a pressing issue: how to increase the retention of diverse attorneys in the profession.
Influential lawyers on appeal
Awarded to the lawyers who made the most important appellate decisions of the year.
T. Michael Ward of Brown & James, the managing partner of the firm that has won a series of landmark appeal decisions this year over insurance coverage.
Tim Aylward of Horn Aylward & Bandy, which won its third career Supreme Court victory in the difficult area of medical malpractice damage limits.
Sally Barker and Loretta Hagard of Schuchat, Cook & Werner, whose work led the Supreme Court to strike down a sweeping law that governed public sector unions.
Brian Shank of Evans & Dixon, whose patience in waiting two and a half years for a Supreme Court decision resulted in a landmark decision on the limits of co-worker liability.
Law firm managers
Awarded to presidents, managing partners or other leaders of law firms who have demonstrated extraordinary vision, innovation and leadership during the year.
John Frank of Franke Schultz & Mullen, whose company management he helped found, has led its four offices to grow even during the pandemic.
Desarae Harrah of Harrah Law, whose entrepreneurial spirit and leadership led her to open her own law firm in 2018 while giving back to the legal community.
Matthew Reh of Armstrong Teasdale, who leads the firm’s National Litigation Practice Group and was recently elected to the commission that helps select judges in St. Louis County.
Julianne’s story of Husch Blackwell, who has shaped both the advice given to clients and the firm’s own labor and employment law policies during the pandemic.
Bob Tomaso of Husch Blackwell, who spent 20 years in senior law firm positions and is the current president of the St. Louis Metro Area Bar Association.
Andrea McNairy of Brown & Crouppen, who is a managing attorney, active litigator and the first female lawyer to become a partner at the firm.
Samuel Wendt of the Wendt law firm, which has run not only its own firm but also the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association during the pandemic.
Julia Vander Weele from Spencer Fane, who took over in 2021 as managing partner of the firm’s Kansas City office, its largest nationally.
2022 Missouri Lawyer Awards