For the first time in nearly 40 years, a Cape Girardeau attorney is on track to become president of The Missouri Bar.
At the board of governor’s meeting Sept. 18 during The Missouri Bar Annual Meeting in Branson, the board elected John W. Grimm of The Limbaugh Firm as vice president, putting him on track to become president for the term spanning 2021-2022. The election was uncontested.
As vice president, Grimm is set to succeed John Gunn of St. Louis, who was formally elected president-elect at the same meeting. Gunn’s term will follow that of Tom Bender of Kansas City, who was formally elected president for the 2019-2020 year at the meeting.
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Grimm knows well the last attorney from his city to take on the role — after graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1987, he clerked for then-U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Sr.
Grimm also was a member of The Limbaugh Firm from 1989 to 1993, when he was appointed as a circuit judge for the 32nd Circuit. He was elected to a six-year term in 1994, was re-elected in 2000 and rejoined the law firm in 2003.
He’s a trial attorney and mediator with a focus on personal injury and wrongful death, insurance coverage and defense, business, real estate and employment litigation.
It’s a “tremendous honor to be in line to be president of The Missouri Bar,” Grimm said.
“It’s a great organization, we’ve got a great history of leaders and it’s just an honor to be in line,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work ahead, but it’s going to be worth it.”
Bender succeeded Ray Williams of West Plains, the outgoing president.
In his final remarks to members of the board of governors, Williams thanked them and encouraged them to stay involved in the initiatives of the bar.
While it’s increasingly difficult today to get people excited about participating in organizations, he said, it’s important for the future of the profession.
“Together, we absolutely make a difference,” he said.
Bender told the board it will not be easy to follow Williams, noting his encyclopedic knowledge about the bar and its work, as well as his calm and even demeanor. Williams is a solo practitioner, and his service to the bar often meant he put his own work — and his source of income — on hold, Bender said.
“When I was nominated, I was an ordinary lawyer,” he said. “There’s nothing ordinary about Ray Williams.”
The meeting wasn’t all serious business, however.
Governors nominated the leadership slate by invoking “Top Gun” puns in references to Gunn’s nomination. They also sang along to a mock jingle, using the tune of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to implore would-be clients to “Don’t Worry, Call Bender” for their legal needs.