Gregory M. Kratofil Jr.
In the past year, Gregory M. Kratofil Jr. has added a new title to his collection: lobbyist.
The Kansas City attorney and booster of computer-science education played a key role in promoting a bill that beefs up computer-science course offerings and STEM curriculum standards for students across the state.
The role was a natural fit for Kratofil, who has developed a passion for computer-science education from his work advising tech companies. He said his clients all share a common problem: finding employees.
“The reality is [that] we do not have enough and are not producing enough engineers and folks with computer-science literacy and understanding to fill the jobs of today, not to mention the jobs of the future,” he said.
The KC Tech Council, a trade group which Kratofil helped to found in 2006, spearheaded the lobbying effort in response to that need. Prior to the bill, he said Missouri was an outlier nationwide as a state with no computer-science education standards in place.
“It was like a big hole right in the middle of the country,” he said. “We set out this year to fix that and pass a bill around K-12 computer-science standards.”
Kratofil said the council sponsored a computer-science education day in Jefferson City, bringing buses of people from St. Louis and Kansas City to speak with lawmakers. Kratofil met with then-Lt. Gov. Mike Parson to discuss the bill.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support and passed in both chambers of the legislature. But Parson, now serving as governor, vetoed the bill in July, citing concerns that it favored one particular vendor for online courses.
Missouri lawmakers reconvened in a special legislative session in October and passed an amended version, which Parson signed into law.
“We thought we had a very good bill and got a lot of engagement from House and Senate folks,” he said. “It just got kind of caught up in some of the issues that were going on down there. It took extra effort to maneuver it around and keep it at the forefront.”
Kratofil long has had an interest in technology. He came to Polsinelli in 1998 after graduating from Saint Louis University School of Law.
He quickly began working with tech companies, advising them on financing deals. He noted his entry into the legal market coincided with the dot-com boom.
“We were seeing people, even in the Midwest, getting money on a napkin for early-stage ideas,” he said. “I got the bug. I got excited about that space.”
Around 2000, Kratofil approached the firm’s management to pitch the idea of a computer, technology and internet law practice group.
“I said, ‘This is the future, this is where we need to be,’” he said. “The firm was extremely supportive of it.”
Today, Kratofil chairs the firm’s technology transactions and data privacy practice group, which in 2018 doubled in size to 28 attorneys. The practice group advises clients on technology transactions for a wide range of groups and industries.
The practice group primarily focuses on financial technology, health care technology and privacy and cybersecurity. It also recently launched an incident-response team to assist clients with data breaches.
Kratofil said he enjoys each of the areas his practice encompasses.
“They’re all fun and exciting, and very, very hot right now,” he said. “I love what I do.”
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