For some young lawyers, their first job out of law school is a mere stepping stone, a pay-your-dues post until brighter pastures emerge.
But that wasn’t so for Teresa Bartosiak. The Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard shareholder remains at the firm she joined 25 years ago after graduating from the Washington University School of Law.
She was the youngest lawyer to make equity partner there at age 30.
The St. Louis lawyer chairs the pharmaceutical and medical device section of the firm’s product liability practice group and has served as one of three executive committee members who manage its six offices in Missouri and Illinois.
“I don’t know many people that have stayed at one firm for that long,” she said. “When I joined, it was a young, growing firm that had some progressive ideas. They gave associates a real chance to prove themselves, even if meant getting thrown into the fire.”
“That’s a situation where I thrive.”
A native of the Madison County town of Bethalto, Illinois, Bartosiak said she grew up “loving to argue, and looked for a career that would fit with my ability to debate any topic, any time,” noting she put her single mother “through a lot of arguments.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in speech communications before heading to Wash U for law school, though she also had considered a career in medicine.
Instead, she would wind up representing BJC Health System, one of the primary clients for the former chair of the firm’s health law practice group. She also represents several nursing homes in both Missouri and Illinois.
And rather than treating patients, her interest in medicine is instead reflected in the product-liability, medical-malpractice and nursing home-litigation cases in which she specializes.
“I kind of still wanted to be a doctor,” she said. “It keeps that interest alive.”
Before joining Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, Bartosiak clerked for Judge William Crandall in the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District. An active volunteer, she’s worked on behalf of community groups such as the United Way, Ronald McDonald House and the Alton Boys and Girls Club.
Asked for a career highlight, she makes no mention of courtroom victories. Instead, Bartosiak cites her pride in watching the associates whom she’s mentored make partner.
Colleague Ken Bean, a shareholder and founding member of the firm, concurred that Bartosiak “does a great job of mentoring the younger lawyers at the firm.”
“She is exceptionally well-organized and is one of people I trust when I get in trouble and need a second opinion.”
One of her nominators said the lawyer has excellent leadership skills that she’s put to good use: “In more than 25 years of practice, Teresa D. Bartosiak has established herself as an exemplary attorney, leader in the legal profession and as a positive, effective force in the metropolitan community.”
Bartosiak continues to live in Madison County, with her husband of 26 years, Dave, and daughter Ava, 13.