Richard Scherrer could have just retired.
He already had a long and distinguished career under his belt at Armstrong Teasdale, one of Missouri’s largest and most prestigious firms. He’d given back to his community. No one would have batted an eye if he’d gone on to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Instead, Scherrer has embarked on a new career. His unpaid, full-time role with the Missouri State Public Defender System has him coordinating private practice volunteers who have agreed to help the strained system handle cases. It’s a job, he told Missouri Lawyers Weekly this year that puts him on the “front lines of the criminal justice system” in the St. Louis area and increasingly across the state.
Scherrer is, in short, a volunteer’s volunteer. He is also, we are proud to announce, our 2018 Lawyer of the Year.
We will honor Scherrer and the accomplishments of 27 other lawyers at the Missouri Lawyers Awards luncheon on Friday, Jan. 26, at the Ballpark Hilton in downtown St. Louis. The winners will be profiled in a special section of Missouri Lawyers Weekly on Jan. 22. These awardees will be joined by our Verdicts & Settlements winners — lawyers with the largest verdicts, settlements and defense wins of 2017, who will be announced next month.
Lawyer of the Year
- Richard Scherrer, formerly of Armstrong Teasdale and now a volunteer with the Missouri State Public Defender System.
Awarded to the newsmakers, those Missouri lawyers who made substantial contributions to the legal community this year.
- Steve Cousins of Armstrong Teasdale, who has worked on some of the biggest bankruptcy cases in recent history, including Payless ShoeSource and Peabody Energy.
- Don Downing of Gray, Ritter & Graham and Patrick Stueve of Stueve Siegel Hanson, who won a massive verdict over the economic harms of genetically modified corn.
- Lisa Krigsten of Dentons in Kansas City, a former federal prosecutor who takes on bet-the-company cases throughout the country.
- Michelle Marriott of Erise IP in Overland Park, Kansas, who won a significant ruling that invalidated a patent that once bedeviled Microsoft.
- Michael Rader of Bartimus Frickleton Robertson & Rader in Leawood, Kansas, who helped bring closure to the family of a young boy killed in a horrific waterpark accident.
- Ellen Suni, whose legacy after 13 years as dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law lives on in the school’s practical approach to legal education.
Awarded to plaintiffs’ or defense lawyers, not based on the size of verdicts, but the importance of the principle or policy at stake.
- Michael Blumenthal and Paul Seyferth of Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris in Kansas City, who brought to an end a long-running lawsuit with a national hospital chain over funding for hospitals in Kansas City’s urban core.
- Gerard Carmody and Ryann Carmody of Carmody MacDonald in St. Louis, who successfully defended a Catholic priest from false accusations of child sexual abuse.
- Michael Foster and Phillip Zeeck of Polsinelli in Kansas City, whose successful lawsuit over an inmate’s health concerns led Missouri prisons to go smoke-free.
- Thomas Pickert of Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger in Kansas City, whose fatal shooting on Oct. 25 brought a heartbreaking end to a tragically short career as an advocate for clients with tough-to-win cases.
- Cheryl Pilate of Morgan Pilate in Kansas City, who successfully fought to free a man after 23 years of wrongful imprisonment for murders he didn’t commit.
- Tim Sansone of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, who led a strange and improbable appeal to recover a family’s pet dog.
Influential Appellate Advocates
Awarded to the lawyers behind the most significant appellate decisions of the year.
- Amy Blaisdell of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, for her role in a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling this year that upheld an exemption in federal law for church-affiliated pension plans.
- Amy Collignon Gunn, Anne-Marie Brockland and Elizabeth Washam of The Simon Law Firm in St. Louis, who challenged repetitive testimony by defense experts on appeal and won a new trial for the plaintiffs in a wrongful death case.
- Jonathan Whitehead of the Law Office of Jonathan R. Whitehead in Lee’s Summit, who has made two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court this year on high-profile religious liberty cases, including a Missouri church daycare’s fight to take part in a state program.
- Erin Williams of Ogletree Deakins in St. Louis, who won a Missouri appellate ruling that a state-law employment discrimination claim was pre-empted by federal retirement law.
Law Firm Leaders
Awarded to chairman, managing partners or other law firm executives who demonstrated extraordinary vision, innovation and leadership during the year.
- Michael Angelides, the managing shareholder of Simmons Hanly Conroy, a firm on the front lines of high-profile litigation across the country.
- Jean Paul Bradshaw of Lathrop Gage, who leads the firm’s newly formed government relations and lobbying subsidiary.
- Ed Herman, the managing partner of Brown & Crouppen, which has grown in both attorneys and offices under his leadership.
- Maurice Watson, who is handing over the chairmanship of Husch Blackwell, the firm he helped reshape and diversify.
- W. Russell Welsh, who is entering his final year as chairman and chief executive officer of fast-growing Polsinelli.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Gerard Carmody’s first name. We regret the error.