Nicole Colbert-Botchway always knew she wanted to use her time and talents to help her community, but it wasn’t until she reached high school that she discovered how to do so as an adult.
A native of north St. Louis, Colbert-Botchway was a teen when she met attorney Dorothy White-Coleman — who still practices in St. Louis today — while attending an Upward Bound career day on the Saint Louis University campus.
“I just remember her talking about her experience as an attorney [and] about being a SLU alumna, and just identifying with a black career female. I didn’t know of any working black women before then,” Colbert-Botchway said. At that time, she noted, typical careers for women were more limited to areas such as teaching.
“I identified [with White-Coleman] as being a woman of color and being her own person, with her own full-time job and being independent,” she said.
Colbert-Botchway earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Louis University in 1993 and her law degree from SLU School of Law in 1996. Several years later, she also earned a master’s degree in business administration and management from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Colbert-Botchway practiced law with Smith & Associates from 1995 to 1998 before joining the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, where she remained for six years. In January 2004, she joined the state Attorney General’s Office as an assistant attorney general and unit leader in the child-support division of the financial services section.
She also sat on the State of Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission from December 2014 to July 2015, when she became an associate circuit judge in St. Louis.
Colbert-Botchway said it takes a conscious effort to ensure diverse perspectives are represented in both the legal field and the community in general.
“It takes time and volunteer hours, and I think that’s what I’ve been able to offer the most in offering my time and talent to these programs that will last beyond my time and further generations,” she said.
The list of organizations, boards and committees with which she has worked reflects that belief. Among them: the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater St. Louis, the Archway chapter of The Links Inc. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
“When there is an opportunity to land your diverse perspective, you should take it,” she said. “I do that because I think it’s a responsibility we, as lawyers, have as leaders in our respective communities to lend a hand and pay it forward.”
In addition to her volunteer work, Colbert-Botchway said she loves to do, well . . . more community work. She and her 13-year-old son volunteer and participate in community development programs and other activities.
“You have to bring everyone to the table,” she said. “I think you have to have every interested party represented at the table. And you know, like a family you have to be able to listen and agree to disagree.
“It’s important that every perspective is represented,” she added. “I seize opportunities to participate in projects in the community, with the court, with the bar, to include my diverse perception which is based on my humble upbringing.”