In addition to Lawyer of the Year, Missouri Lawyers Weekly will honor 14 other attorneys from around the state next month for outstanding work during 2013. The awards are for accomplishments during the calendar year and not career awards.
All of the winners will be profiled in our Jan. 20 issue, in advance of the Jan. 24 Missouri Lawyers Awards luncheon at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark Hilton. Here’s a quick look at each of the winners and some of their accomplishments this year:
Law Firm Leaders
Awarded to chairman, managing partners or other law firm executives who demonstrated extraordinary vision, innovation and leadership during the year.
• John Sandberg, managing partner, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard. Sandberg was re-elected managing partner in July in the middle of a year of growth that saw the addition of two new offices, 25 new attorneys and continued revenue growth.
• Russ Welsh, chairman, Polsinelli. It was a year full of news at the Kansas City firm, including, in the last month alone, moving into its new 10-story headquarters and announcing the hiring of more than 50 attorneys firmwide.
Influential Appellate Advocates
Awarded to the lawyers behind the most significant appellate decisions of the year.
• Jeff Masson, partner, Thompson Coburn. Masson posted one of the big courtroom victories of the year when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled for his client Monsanto in a significant patent decision.
• Greg Rich, partner, Dobson, Goldberg, Berns & Rich. Rich wrote the brief and presented oral arguments in Badahman, a state Supreme Court case that offered a ringing endorsement of the power of trial judges.
• Gary and Anita Robb, Robb & Robb. In May, the Robbs won a rare full Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District decision to override a panel decision and restore a $28 million punitive damage award for the families of five people killed in a plane crash.
Awarded to plaintiffs or defense lawyers, not based on the size of verdicts, but the importance of the principle or policy at stake.
• Charles Birmingham, Richard Finneran and Steven Muchnick, U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis. This trio of attorneys prosecuted the National Prearranged Services case. One of the largest frauds in the history of the Eastern District of Missouri, it caused more than $450 million in losses.
• Jeff Carey, The Carey Law Firm. Carey has championed the cause of taxpayers who are pressing a court challenge against Kansas City Power and Light over millions of dollars it received in contract money from the General Services Administration.
• Ben Lipman, partner, Lewis, Rice & Fingersh. Full disclosure here: Lipman represented this newspaper in its effort to have the Hais attorney disciplinary hearings opened to the public. Lipman wrote the extraordinary writ that within a week was completely endorsed by a unanimous decision of the Missouri Supreme Court.
Awarded to the newsmakers, those Missouri lawyers who made substantial contributions to the legal community in 2013.
• Mike Downey, partner, Armstrong Teasdale. The go-to legal ethics counsel in Missouri, Downey represented the Hais firm, who had disciplinary charges dismissed after an acrimonious hearing this spring. Downey also serves as chairman of the ABA Law Practices Management group.
• Kurt Schaefer, Missouri legislator and partner, Lathrop & Gage. As chairman of the state Senate Appropriations Committee, Schaefer issued the first Senate subpoenas in 22 years as part of his investigations into the way driver’s licenses are issued and the handling of concealed weapons permit data.
• Mike Wolff, dean, Saint Louis University School of Law. After two deans left amid controversy, the former state Supreme Court judge came in to settle things down as the law school moved to a new off-campus building in downtown St. Louis.
Register for the 2014 Missouri Lawyers Awards.