The 18th annual Women’s Justice Awards honored 44 female attorneys, students, legal scholars and community leaders, including U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig as Woman of the Year.
The awards, hosted by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, recognized women across the state that have made an impact on the legal community. About 400 people attended the event at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis on April 14.
Fleissig said during her acceptance remarks that she was tempted to discuss the difficulties she faced at the beginning of her career as a young woman in – however cliché it may be – a man’s world.
“My stories are like the stories of many other women who began practicing law at that time,” Fleissig said.
Fleissig began practicing law in a time when few courtrooms were led by women, 2015 Woman of the Year Virginia Fry remarked in her introduction.
Fleissig herself recalled a time when a female attorney entering a courtroom might be confused with a court reporter and when getting time off to raise your children would have a negative effect on your career. That didn’t stop Fleissig from rising, or from wearing pants in a courtroom when it was customary for women to wear skirts.
“She has taught, she has guided, and she has helped those less fortunate,” Fry said.
Fleissig said she was happy to be honored on the same evening as many of her heroes, and impressed upon those in the room the unique standing and power of women in the law.
“As women lawyers we have the education, the training, and most importantly, the heart, to bring change,” she said.