It has been a decade since Gaylin Rich Carver co-founded with Sara Michael the firm that bears their names.
That firm has built a solid track record, even hiring an associate in 2014. But as Carver makes clear, it isn’t just the results she gets for fee-paying clients that make her career a success.
“Everybody says that they get into law because they want to make a difference and they really want to help people,” said Carver. “That’s an easy thing to say when you are getting into law school. Then you graduate and have this huge law-school debt, and you realize you really can’t just go out there and be really doing what you want to do to help people because those people can’t pay and you have to pay the bills.”
But this Jefferson City native has managed to do both. Beyond her work in family law at the firm, she also lends a hand to help with divorce or child-custody cases in the legal department of the Samaritan Center.
In addition, Carver has been honored by Empower Missouri with its Rory Ellinger Award, named after a late state representative, for her assistance to the organization. Those efforts included filing lawsuits to challenge ballot language relating to a gasoline-tax initiative that the organization contended would disproportionately affect poor people.
“She has a practice of always keeping one pro bono case going at all times,” writes her nominator. “In addition, she provides passionate advocacy for her pro bono clients just as she does for her fee-paying clients. Gaylin’s commitment to pro bono work over the course of many years deserves recognition.”
Carver began her career as an educator after earning a master’s degree at the University of Missouri. She spent three years teaching high school history in her hometown before taking a job at a private school in Cairo, Egypt.
Much as she loved the joys of international travel and the relaxation of having summers off, however, the world of the law was never far from her thoughts. Carver ultimately returned to Missouri to begin the next phase of her life.
“Even when I was getting my undergraduate degree, I was always thinking that I wanted to go to law school but I decided I wanted to go ahead and teach first,” she said. “I think I always wanted to get my law degree. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, but it was always of interest to me.”
Three days after graduating from Saint Louis University School of Law, Carver married a man she’d met in law school. She went on to clerk for then-Missouri Supreme Court Judge Michael Wolff and later worked for the Cole County prosecuting attorney’s office before joining the former Hendren Andrae firm in Jefferson City. While practicing family and criminal law for that firm, she met her future partner, Sara Michael.
Today, the mother of two continues to help her clients, both paid and pro bono, to find justice in Missouri’s courtrooms.