Law School: Saint Louis University
Like many defense attorneys, Denise L. Childress sometimes hears people ask how she can defend “criminals.” She has a ready answer.
“On a day-to-day basis, I get to be a constitutional warrior, ever vigilant of the erosion of our individual rights,” she says.
Childress has developed a reputation as a top DWI defense practitioner. Raised on crime stories and mysteries, she was drawn to detective work but eventually turned to criminal defense when – during an internship with the public defender’s office – she uncovered evidence that cleared an innocent rape suspect.
Eventually, she went on to practice at Ward & Associates. Within a year and a half, she was named director of operations and often works 60-hour weeks to get the job done. Her nominator calls her a critical, outside-the-box-thinker who has “become a true master of a highly specialized field of law.”
What is your most important work at your organization?
As the Director of Operations, I manage many aspects of the firm. However, I consider my most important work to be in the courtroom as a trial attorney, presenting evidence and cross-examining witnesses to make sure we have a record that helps all aspects of a client’s case.
What is your biggest accomplishment this year?
Although a personal one, my biggest accomplishment this year was biking the Katy Trail from my home in St. Charles to the Missouri Supreme Court building in Jefferson City
What advice do you have for young lawyers?
Insert yourself in the legal world – don’t sit back and wait for it to come to you. Develop as many mentors as you can and ask questions – you’re not supposed to know it all right now.