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WJA 2020: Jami L. Boyles, Lewis Rice

Jami Boyles rose through the ranks at Lewis Rice to wind up in a position she never expected, and she credits quality mentorship for helping to guide her along the way.

Boyles, who starting with the firm as a summer associate, is now the chief administrative officer for Lewis Rice, where she works with the firm’s Management Committee, attorneys and department supervisors.

Jami L. Boyles

Boyles

“I don’t know that I thought I was ever going to go into big law. I didn’t even know what big law was when I went to law school,” she said. “Where I am now in my career and what I do, I love it, but I never would’ve gone down that career path [otherwise.] I credit good mentorship. There are people who have really coached me and not been afraid to tell me when I’m right and when I’m wrong.”

Boyles graduated from Kansas State University in 1998 and the University of Missouri School of Law in 2001. Initially passionate about litigation, she developed an appreciation for employment law, especially giving advice to human resources personnel and businesses. She loved the clients and people with whom she worked, and she made partner after about 10 years. Still, she found herself drawn to day-to-day communications with HR managers and helping clients to make sound preemptive decisions rather than react to issues.

That drew her to Graybar, the Clayton-based distributor of industrial and electrical supplies, where from 2011 to 2015 she worked in HR, first as director of employment practices and policies, and later as national director of human resources. In that role, she worked with the general counsel and HR senior director to help draft policies, as well as the company’s crisis management teams, among other responsibilities.

At the time, it was scary to leave Lewis Rice after becoming a partner, she said, but she believed it was the right decision for her.

“It was with a heavy heart that I left Lewis Rice,” she said. “But I learned a lot. Graybar let me do a lot of interesting things with my career.”

Then the chief operating officer at Lewis Rice moved onto a new opportunity, and the firm offered the job to Boyles. She wasn’t sure about it at first.

“I said, ‘Well, I have no idea, I don’t know what that person does, I don’t know how I would do it, but I love you guys and I love working with you,’” she said. “It was a matter of less than a day before I accepted the job offer to come back to Lewis Rice to serve as the chief administrative officer. I took a leap of faith.”

Boyles celebrated her five-year anniversary in the position in March. She now supervises a large staff that includes administrative support, HR, legal assistance and other firm personnel. She also learned about operations such as facility build-out, rent and more.

“That’s really helped to expand my career,” she said.

Learning and progressing as a manager is one of her proudest career achievements, she said, and she looks forward to helping to lead the firm into the future.

2020 Women's Justice Awards