“I really try and keep the courts focused on the jurisdictional nature of the treaty, and the mandate to decide a really limited issue,” he said.
But Schmidt’s practice as a partner at Bryan Cave is anything but narrow. The treaty in question? It is not related to Schmidt’s work in complex litigation, mass torts or sports litigation. It is the treaty reached at the Hague Convention, which provides guidance on returning internationally abducted children to their families.
Schmidt and Bryan Cave also host groups at the firm’s St. Louis offices, educating them on the treaty obligations of various countries under the Hague Convention.
Schmidt is no stranger to working for those who need an advocate. After he graduated from Notre Dame, he spent three years in Chile, working as a teacher, with children at an orphanage and as a community organizer.
After returning to the U.S., and graduating from Saint Louis University Law School, Schmidt went to work for Bryan Cave, where he is currently a partner.
He enjoyed his work there, but continued to have a desire to give back. As a second year associate, Schmidt began working at the Catholic Legal Ministry.
The first case he took was that of a woman abducted from Albania, and forced into prostitution. After a successful result in that case, Bryan Cave was approached by the State Department to handle another case, this time an international child abduction case.
“No one (at Bryan Cave) had ever handled one of these before,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt and his fellow attorneys helped a Venezuelan father reunite with his two children, who had been abducted and brought to the U.S.
More cases followed. Before long, Schmidt had a unique pro bono specialty, and a 100 percent success rate at trial.
Schmidt said Bryan Cave’s nationwide footprint and the firm’s ability to work seamlessly across offices make it easy for him to grow his pro bono practice area. He mentors young attorneys who have followed in his footsteps. He said it is part of a culture of charity within Bryan Cave.
“Our firm has always supported this work, unflinchingly,” Schmidt said.