Long before the pandemic elevated “work from home” into the everyday vernacular, Jennifer Growcock faced a career crossroads.
As a Polsinelli partner, the firm’s 2015 decision to shut down its Springfield office left Growcock staring down a potential relocation to its Kansas City headquarters.
It was a move neither she nor husband Matt, also a southwest Missouri lawyer, wanted to make. Son Owen, the youngest of three, was just a year old, with the family settling in Christian County for what they hoped was the long haul.
Instead, the firm agreed to let Growcock work remotely from Ozark, with the occasional trip to the Kansas City or St. Louis offices.
Two years later, Growcock was elected to a newly created judgeship, defeating both an assistant prosecuting attorney in Taney County as well as a former state lawmaker.
“They gave me the opportunity to work from home, which I greatly appreciated, and keep my family here,” said Growcock, who compares her adopted hometown to her birthplace of Oskaloosa, Iowa. “I had clients in Japan and all over the country. I didn’t really need to be stationed in the Kansas City office.”
A University of Iowa graduate, Growcock earned her law degree from the University of Nebraska. She moved to Springfield to join Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin prior to the merger that produced Husch Blackwell, where she practiced business litigation, employment, construction and real estate law for six years before the move to Polsinelli, where she spent another seven years.
Growcock cites former Husch Blackwell managing partner, the late Virginia Fry, as an early mentor, along with judges John Holstein and Phil Garrison at Polsinelli.
As a judge, Growcock splits the circuit’s criminal docket and also shares oversight of its civil and family law cases. The former litigator called the focus on the criminal side “a whole new world to learn.”
With children ages 6, 11 and 13 at home, Growcock spends her weekends as a soccer and equestrian Mom, shuttling kids to games and horse shows. She’s a former board member and president of CASA of Southwest Missouri, a children’s advocacy group; past board member and treasurer of an Ozark elementary school’s PTA; and past board member of the Junior League of Springfield.
“They’re very active,” she said. “We are constantly going places. It’s a nightly thing, running kids around.”
Growcock realizes she’s fortunate to have that work-life balance, citing a supportive spouse as well as the affirmation of then-Polsinelli chair Russ Welsh.
“I was so grateful for the opportunity to do that,” she said. “It would have been difficult to uproot everybody.”