Several years ago, when we expanded the Women’s Justice Awards beyond St. Louis and beyond three recipients, our selection committee needed more than a little convincing. They wanted to make sure we wouldn’t dilute the honors, compromise standards or, as some feared, run out of worthy honorees.
Well, fear not. In fact, we’ve had the opposite problem. Expanding the purview has meant broadening our sights. It has allowed the awards to venture into more areas of law, and more areas, to honor great accomplishment throughout the state and tell the stories that go with it. The hard part these days comes not in compiling the Women’s Justice Awards list but in winnowing it.
This year, after sifting through a tower of impressive nominations, and after much discussion and difficult decision-making, we honor 43 women, our largest class ever. Its size attests to the breadth of achievement and influence of women in the Missouri legal system, from the trenches to the bench, from the classroom to the clinic, from corporate suites to nonprofits, from the big firms to flying solo, and all of it a far cry from the awards’ beginnings in the 1990s.
Does that mean women have achieved parity and full partnership in the practice of law in Missouri? We’ll leave that question, and all the complexities of the answer, to a recently impaneled Missouri Supreme Court commission on the subject.
For now and the night of our awards presentation, it’s our privilege to celebrate the extraordinarily accomplished women featured on the pages within and on the stage and screen of the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom.
S. Richard Gard Jr.
President, editor and publisher