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Daily Record to honor women lawyers

11th annual Women's Justice Awards ceremony will be held April 16

Correction: In the original version of this article, the first name of Janis Good was misspelled. Good, an assistant public defender, is one of the recipients of the St. Louis Daily Record’s Public Service Practitioner Award. We regret the error. Below is the corrected version.

Chief U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson is the St. Louis Daily Record’s woman of the year.

She and 25 other legal stars will be feted next month at the 11th annual Women’s Justice Awards.

“I was stunned. I didn’t have any inkling that I was being considered for this award or any other,” Jackson said.

The awards gala, which includes dinner, will be held at 6 p.m. April 16 at the Four Seasons Hotel on Laclede’s Landing in downtown St. Louis.

“We’ve expanded the number of people we give awards to and the number of categories. I think that means that we have more women than ever worthy of these honors,” said Susan Block, a partner at Paule Camazine & Blumenthal and a member of the selection committee.

“We have a lot of excellent, excellent nominations,” she said.

Jackson joined the federal bench in St. Louis as a U.S. magistrate judge in 1986, and in 1992 she became a district court judge. Since 2002, Jackson has been serving as the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri.

“It’s a nice coincidence of events that she gets this award right at the time when her term is coming to a close,” said court clerk Jim Woodward. Jackson’s seven-year term as chief judge ends June 9.

Before joining the federal court, Jackson practiced law at the firm then known as Thompson Mitchell, now Thompson Coburn.

Mary Bonacorsi, a partner at Thompson Coburn, describes her longtime friend as “a woman of incredible character and judgment who really has dedicated her career to justice in a very compassionate way.”

Block called Jackson a “legal pioneer.” Jackson was the first black woman to serve on the court as well as the first black chief judge on the court.

“She has always distinguished herself, whether as a practitioner, or as a U.S. magistrate, as a district court judge or as the chief judge of the court … with great commitment to the administration of justice and to diversity,” Block said.

Jackson ranks being a federal judge as the best job a lawyer can have.

“It’s not the most high-paying job, but it is certainly one that brings a lot of professional satisfaction,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to provide a public service. It is an opportunity to help people resolve their disputes in a civil way. For someone like me who’s always interested in learning something new, it’s an opportunity to learn about an area of law that you might not encounter if you’re in private practice.”

Below are the other award winners who will be honored April 16.

Trial Practitioner, awarded to women trial practitioners who fulfill the award’s ideals in improving the quality of justice or contributing to the betterment of the profession: Alisse Camazine, Paule Camazine & Blumenthal; Kathi L. Chestnut, Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale; and Deirdre C. Gallagher, Spencer Fane Britt & Browne.

Business Practitioner, awarded to women business practitioners who fulfill the award’s ideals in improving the quality of justice or contributing to the betterment of the profession: Jane E. Dueker, Stinson Morrison Hecker; Rebecca A.D. Nelson, Bryan Cave; and Therese Trelz, Armstrong Teasdale.

Public Official, awarded to women judges and other public service officials whose public service fulfills the award’s ideals in improving the quality of justice: Judge Nannette Baker, Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District; Judge Catherine D. Perry, U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri; and Judge Carolyn Whittington, St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Public Service Practitioner, awarded to women government and non-profit lawyers who improve the quality of justice or contribute to the betterment of the profession: Nicole Colbert-Botchway, Missouri Attorney General’s Office; Janis Good, Federal Public Defender’s Office; and Marie Kenyon, Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry.

Enterprise, awarded to women in a business setting, be they entrepreneurs, executives, corporate counsel, or other business professionals who fulfill the award’s ideals in contributing to the improvement of the quality of the justice system: Elizabeth C. Anderson, assistant general counsel, Emerson Electric; and Sarah Siegel, general counsel, Dierberg’s Markets.

Citizenship, generally, though not necessarily, awarded to women non-lawyers who fulfill the award’s ideals in improving the quality of justice in the community at large: Susan Amato, Law Offices of Susan Amato; JoAnn Karll, Karll Law Center; and Linda Riekes, St. Louis Public Schools.

Rising Star, awarded to women lawyers 40 years old and younger or who are within the first 10 years of practice who have already made a difference in the justice system or the profession and who appear on a path toward even greater accomplishment: Amy Collignon-Gunn, The Simon Law Firm; Connie McFarland-Butler, Armstrong Teasdale; and Amie E. Needham, Thompson Coburn.

Leaders of Tomorrow, awarded to women law students at area law schools who demonstrate leadership, professionalism and a passion for making a difference in the justice system or the legal profession: Anne Harkins and Manasi Venkatesh, Saint Louis University; and Melissa Lin, Washington University.

Legal Scholar, awarded to women faculty members or administrators at area law schools who fulfill the award’s ideals through their own work with the justice system, through their research or scholarship, or through teaching and inspiring others: Kimberly J. Norwood, law professor, Washington University; and Carol A. Needham, law professor, Saint Louis University.