As a student at Saint Louis University School of Law, Buschjost said she knew she wanted to be in court. She just didn’t know where she’d end up.
“At one point in law school, I wanted to be either a prosecutor or med-mal defense,” said Buschjost, now a shareholder with Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost in Rolla.
Her career first took her in the direction of being a prosecutor. After graduating from SLU in 1994, she served for two years as assistant prosecuting attorney in Adair County, then for two years as assistant prosecuting attorney in Phelps County.
After an election in which her prosecutor was not re-elected, she decided to move to private practice. In 1999, she joined her current firm, Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, drawn by the firm’s peer-review rating and distinguished attorneys.
“This was an opportunity for what I thought would be some mentoring and branching out into some other areas of the law,” she said.
Buschjost was proven right — her background as a prosecutor initially allowed her to handle some criminal law at her new firm, but she does little in that area now. She spends more time in family law, working for local municipalities and also doing real estate/landlord-tenant cases.
“Family law gets a bad rap, but I’m at a place in my career where I can see how much the legal issues affecting the family affects every area of the law,” she said. “I think everyone needs to take it seriously what we’re doing with families. We need to make things better for families, not worse.”
She said she enjoys taking family-law cases to trial. She also serves as a guardian ad litem, advocating for the best interests of children in family court.
“There are those cases where you have a family that’s in a situation where they need a lot of help,” she said. “Sometimes, whether as a guardian ad litem or advocate for one of the parties, the court system just works and gets the families what they need.”
Looking back on her career, Buschjost said she is especially proud of her work to help establish a special master program for family-law cases in the 25th Circuit. She said the program, which began in the mid-2000s, gives families a chance to bring their cases before a panel of attorneys who volunteer to hear the cases and offer an assessment of the outcomes to expect in court.
“I’ve seen a lot of cases that you never think would settle [that do] settle successfully after that program,” she said.
Buschjost said family-law cases are required by a local court rule to go to mediation or before the special master panel.
“One party might have needed a reality check of how much this one issue was really worth,” she said. “It’s a nice reassurance for the lawyers to make sure everything’s been identified, and they’ve covered all their bases.”
In addition to her work as a guardian ad litem, Buschjost said she enjoys volunteering with other community groups, such as her local CASA and Ozark Actors Theatre.
She said it’s important work, and it’s also helped her build up her practice.
“I’ve been able to meet a lot of people through those opportunities,” she said.