A new year always seems to dawn with promise. Time may travel in a linear path, never pausing, but I like the symbolism of a door that opens after last year’s ball drops.
The Romans embedded the concept when they chose a name for this block of time. They honored their god Janus, whose main purview was to watch over new beginnings. And doors. Janus often was depicted with two faces — one looking back and one forward.
Forgive my shameless metaphor use, but I use it to describe how Missouri Lawyers Media makes decisions in many of our Missouri Lawyers Awards. We take a long look back at the previous year in not only identifying those gladiators who marked big, exceptional verdict and settlement wins for their clients, but those whose actions in and out of the courtroom have had — or will have — significant impact on the profession.
Our 2020 Lawyers of the Year — Susan Ford Robertson of the Robertson Law Group and Thomas B. Weaver of Armstrong Teasdale — spent an hour before the Missouri Supreme Court nearly two years ago, arguing a case on a seemingly dry topic: the proper venue for a lawsuit. The case was anything but boring, though, and neither was the result.
Robertson and Weaver are responsible for precedent-setting work as they led the appellate teams for two separate defendants in a series of lawsuits alleging harmful effects from the plaintiffs’ use of talcum powder.
Several have resulted in verdicts totaling tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. But the wider effect of their work was to knock out the underpinnings of a series of mass tort cases anchored in St. Louis — and to effectively resolve a long-simmering legislative fight regarding what court rules on venue should say.
The list of accomplishments of all of the attorneys we recognize this year is one of tremendous purpose, vision and impact.
Nominations for these awards were submitted from across the state and from many sources. The nominations alone are a testament to the great work practiced day in and day out by so many dedicated men and women. As we select the honorees, we know their impact has a ripple effect. In addition to the profession, they make a commitment to their communities, however they define that.
They are leaders, not followers. They understand and demonstrate that service to their communities isn’t a byproduct of success; in fact success is a byproduct of service.
On behalf of everyone at Missouri Lawyers Media, I extend our sincerest congratulations to the 2020 Missouri Lawyers Awards honorees. We are proud to be a part of this recognition and grateful to those honored this year.