While a career as a lawyer was always on Jennifer R. Piper’s mind, she once swore she would never touch the area of law in which she’s now built an entire practice.
“I actually said in high school I wanted to be a lawyer. But then when I started college I had several different majors and finally swung back around and picked political science. So it was kind of a full circle back around,” Piper said.
Piper graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1998. She earned her law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2001.
Due to her parents’ difficult divorce while she was young, Piper said she had no interest in family law when she began her career. Despite her initial aversion, though, she said she fell in love with it after joining what is now known as Reinker Hamilton & Piper, thanks to the example set by her now-partner Bob Hamilton.
“If I hadn’t learned it from Bob [Hamilton] and how Bob practiced family law, I don’t think I would have liked it,” Piper said. “. . . He’s had to tell me several times, ‘Stop, go on vacation right now,’ because I would take it too much to heart.”
Through her practice, she’s learned that lawyers can’t take on all of the tension that often accompanies a family law case, and she often must remind her clients that they, too, need something in their life to de-stress and distract them.
“It can be very emotional, it can tug on your emotions and the people are very emotional,” she said. “It’s high-stress, and if you can’t set that aside and walk away or laugh at the situation or laugh at yourself . . . you’re not going to be able to last.”
Piper is certified as a guardian ad litem and is regularly appointed to represent and protect children by judges and commissioners in St. Louis and St. Louis County. She is certified as a mediator for civil and family law matters and is a certified parenting coordinator. She also is appointed by the court to assist families with difficult custody matters and decision making.
Piper was also named an Up & Coming Lawyer by Missouri Lawyers Media in 2009
Out of the office, she volunteers with charities (usually ones connected to dogs), reads “terrible fiction” — usually about the apocalypse, she said — hangs out with her boyfriend, skis and works out.
Because she knows what it’s like to be a child in a difficult family situation, Piper said she finds her work to be both professionally and personally gratifying. She’s able to connect with the children involved in her cases by sharing her experience with them.
“Knowing that I can help the kids through it is really rewarding,” she said. “I love that I’m able to help people through some of the worst parts, I love that I am able to be there for people and I especially love that I am able to help children.”