Lucy T. Unger recently stepped down after six years as the managing partner of St. Louis-based Williams Venker & Sanders. As a trial lawyer, she handles commercial litigation, products liability, healthcare and medical malpractice cases. She also served on The Missouri Bar’s Joint Commission on Women in the Profession and has written extensively about the dangers of data security breaches.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? I was inspired to be a part of the justice system by many people and events, but perhaps the biggest inspiration came from my eldest brother, Paul Herbers (who is also a Missouri trial lawyer). Paul is 12 years my senior and believed that I had something to contribute to the profession. He encouraged me to go to law school and focus on trial work, allowing me to work at his Kansas City firm during my summers. He seemed to have a great deal of fun — yes, fun! — and find so much honor in his own work that I thought I could not go wrong following in his footsteps. As I did, I met wonderful mentors along the way — first as a clerk to Judge William Crandall on the Missouri Court of Appeals and thereafter as a private practitioner.
What has been your favorite part of the job? My favorite part of being a trial lawyer is winning — of course! That being said, a lot goes into winning a trial, and that takes teamwork, strategic thinking, devotion to the spirit and letter of the law, and unending coordination with clients and witnesses to find and speak the truth. Any “win” is the result of that coordination of efforts, and the “win” belongs to the client. Helping clients resolve problems that they cannot resolve without a lawyer by defending them vigorously in the court system is self- rewarding, because there’s so much honor in it.
What is something that would surprise people about you? I’m the 12th of 13 children.