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Law Firm Leader: James Scott Kreamer, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice

The year 2019 was a period of growth for Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, and managing an expansion takes skill and vision. That’s where Scott Kreamer comes in.

“There’s a genuine excitement about the firm,” said Kreamer, the firm’s managing member. “I’m privileged to be at the head of an organization that has some of the finest — not only attorneys but people. It has been a true pleasure this last year or so.”

James Scott Kreamer


Part of that has been spearheading the integration of Baker Sterchi with Williams Venker & Sanders after the firms’ 2018 merger. There’s also been the opening of a new office to expand service to southern Illinois.

“During the last year, [Kreamer] has overseen a surge in growth in which the firm has nearly doubled in size,” his nominator wrote, noting that Kreamer also served in 2019 as chairman of the board of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel. The invitation-only international organization consists of accomplished defense attorneys, corporate counsel and insurance industry executives who have achieved professional distinction during their careers.

Kreamer also has played a role in the firm’s recent focus on innovative legal tools.

“We’ve taken a strong initiative into technology,” said Kreamer. “You can use technology in ways you never could before in a courtroom to tell a story that your client has to tell. As a leader of our firm, I’ve really placed an emphasis on technology that we can use, not only in the courtroom but through discovery, to more efficiently and effectively conduct investigations.”

He also wants to ensure his firm’s attorneys are well-versed and heavily trained in cutting-edge ideas.

“How many times have you sat in a seminar, heard something and said, ‘That’s pretty cool’? But when you don’t know how to use it, you forget about it and don’t utilize it,” he said.

If the head of a firm is the embodiment of its culture, then Kreamer’s 2015 elevation to the role was an illustrative choice. A native of Iowa who grew up in Chicago, Kreamer has spent his entire career at Baker Sterchi since earning his law degree from the University of Kansas.

He’s quick to joke that he’s held nearly every position at the firm other than secretary.

“I’ve probably done that, too,” he added with a chuckle.

But his long tenure at Baker Sterchi has imbued him with a respect for the unique value it brings to clients that has helped to fuel this year’s expansion.

“To me, what sets us apart from other folks is the depth of trial experience that we’ve got,” he said. “We’re a litigation firm. We don’t have the multiple service lines that some of the firms have.”

Kreamer’s job may be complex, but his definition of it is remarkably simple.

“I think the role of a law firm leader is really just to help set the direction for the firm,” he said. “What we try to do is let our lawyers practice, and we try to give them all of the tools that they need in order to represent their clients to the best of their ability.”

He said he also encourages the firm’s lawyers to become involved in other organizations in the legal community.

“It is rewarding professionally and personally,” he said.

As for the future, like any good leader, Kreamer is still focused on tomorrow.

“We are really looking forward to 2020, but 2019 is one of those years that’s going to be hard to top,” he said.

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