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Attorney Robert Blitz accepts the 2016 Missouri Lawyer of the Year Award from Missouri Lawyer Media Publisher Liz Irwin Friday at the downtown St. Louis Hilton. Photo by Karen Elshout.

Awards honor Bob Blitz, other influential lawyers

The Rams may be on their way back to L.A., but that doesn’t minimize the maximum efforts of the attorney who worked to keep them in St. Louis, Missouri Lawyers Weekly Publisher Liz Irwin said as she announced Bob Blitz as the Lawyer of the Year at the annual Missouri Lawyers Awards presentation.

Blitz was among the lawyers honored at the awards luncheon Friday afternoon at the Ballpark Hilton in downtown St. Louis.  Blitz helped lead an effort to put together a funding plan for a new stadium in St. Louis that was intended to keep a professional football team in the city.

In his acceptance speech, Blitz thanked the people who helped him get to where he is, including his parents and his mentor Jack Bardgett.

“The day I met Jack Bardgett, I became a better lawyer,” Blitz said.

He also thanked his law firm and Missouri’s judicial system as a whole.

“We’re lucky in Missouri to have such a great judicial system with such great judges and such great lawyers,” he said, urging his fellow lawyers to do everything they can to keep the Nonpartisan Court Plan in place.

The awards were based on accomplishments in 2015. About 300 people attended the event.

“This is the event that is for the year that was,” Irwin said in her introduction.

Irwin said what makes the Missouri Lawyers Awards different from most legal community awards it that they “focus on the events of a single year.”

“Certainty, we are influenced by the totality of a career in many of our individual awards, but the difference made in 2015 and subsequent impact on the legal profession helps guide us through the decisions we make in selecting many of our honorees,” she said.

The awards included a new Corporate Counsel category this year, along with traditional categories for Influential Lawyers, Legal Champions, Law Firm Leaders and Influential Appellate Advocates.

The Corporate Counsel winners were Bill Colby of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City; and David Geisler, recently retired general counsel of Dairy Farmers of America in Kansas City.

Awards in the Influential Lawyers category went to Steve Garner of Strong-Garner-Bauer in Springfield; Todd Graves of Graves Garrett in Kansas City; Pamela Meanes of Thompson Coburn in St. Louis; Jerome Schlichter of Schlichter Bogard & Denton in St. Louis; and Joan Swartz, a solo attorney in St. Louis.

Legal Champions were Megan Phillips, co-chairwoman of the Missouri Joint Commission on Women in the Profession, and State Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.

Law Firm Leaders honored were Teresa Bartosiak of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard; David Kenner, president of Levy Craig Law Firm; Jessica Liss of Jackson Lewis; Lisa Moore, president of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal; and Richard Walters of Spencer Fane’s Springfield office.

The Influential Appellate Advocates were John Ammann of Saint Louis University School of Law and Deborah Greider, a solo practitioner in St. Louis, as well as Greer Lang of Lathrop & Gage in Kansas City.

Missouri Lawyers also honored attorneys for the largest verdicts, settlements and defense wins of 2015.