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WJA 2021: Betsy AuBuchon

Betsy AuBuchon calls a trip to Jefferson City as part of the annual Sophomore Pilgrimage for talented students “one of the most memorable days of my life.”

aubuchonBut a more recent capital city encounter — this time watching Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson namedrop his Missouri Supreme Court co-worker to a school group that included AuBuchon’s daughter Maddie — was memorable in its own right.

“He said, ‘Your mother runs the judiciary. She’s the only one who can tell us what to do,” AuBuchon recalled with a laugh.

Her own Jeff City journey began in the Oregon County seat of Alton, population 800 (give or take) and 20 miles from the Arkansas border. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in agricultural journalism, along with both a master’s in health administration and her law degree.

“I had no interest in practicing law,” she said. “I wanted to run a hospital. And now I run a court system.”

After law school, AuBuchon worked as a consultant and general counsel for Behavioral Health Concepts Inc., before joining the prominent Jefferson City lobbying firm Gamble & Schlemeier, where she remained for a decade.

AuBuchon joined the high court in 2012 as commission counsel for the state’s Judicial Finance Commission and legislative liaison before a swift promotion to the newly created role of director of government relations and deputy counsel.

She was named clerk effective Jan. 1, 2017, the first woman in that role and only the sixth clerk in state history, recruited to succeed Bill L. Thompson, who retired after nearly five years as clerk and more than three decades as court counsel.

“I was his first hire (as clerk),” she said. “He must have seen some potential.”

Thompson’s comparatively short tenure is not the norm. His immediate predecessor, Thomas Simon, spent nearly 40 years on the job. Before Simon, court clerk Marion Spicer stuck around a mere 28 years.

As clerk, her oversight is far-reaching: managing and supervising the state Supreme Court’s internal operations but serving as de facto chief administrator for the third branch of Missouri government.

That includes supervision of the Office of State Courts Administrator, along with proscribed duties related to The Missouri Bar and the Missouri Board of Law Examiners.

She maintains the official roll of all Missouri attorneys and prepares attorney licenses, serves as the ex officio treasurer of The Missouri Bar, and prepares financial reports for the Journal of the Missouri Bar. AuBuchon also serves as treasurer for the board of law examiners and oversees twice-yearly bar enrollment ceremonies.

“I liken it to being an air traffic controller sometimes,” she said in a previous interview.

AuBuchon and husband Rich, a Jefferson City lawyer and lobbyist, have four children: daughters Maddie, 16, Anna, 15, and Scarlett, 9; and son Connor, who is 6.

“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “Hopefully, I can be a symbol to someone from small-town Missouri, who didn’t know any lawyers growing up, that you don’t have to be the son or daughter of a lawyer or know the right people. It doesn’t have to be hereditary. Hard work can prevail.”

Women's Justice Awards 2021

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