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WJA 2021: Publisher’s Letter, Honorees

Liz Irwin

Liz Irwin

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote in this country, was ratified by the states on Aug. 18, 1920.

By then, Lemma Barkaloo and Phoebe Couzins had passed from living into legend. They were the first women in the country to be admitted to a law school. That happened in October 1869 at Washington University School of Law.

Think about that for a minute.

50 years before the 19th Amendment, Lemma and Phoebe were trained to “practice” law when their right to vote for the legislators who created those laws wasn’t guaranteed.

Now fast forward beyond 1920.

It wasn’t until 1981 that Sandra Day O’Connor took her seat at the U.S. Supreme Court. A little more than a decade later, Janet Reno became the first woman to serve as the U.S. Attorney General.

What milestones . . .  with such wide gaps between.

Things accelerated in the 1970s. The participation of women in the legal profession took off as universities and schools expanded training and admitted more women. Some reports indicate that prior to 1960, only 3 percent of law students were women. By the mid-1980s, 38 percent were women.

Today, more than half of law school students are women.

But move up the ranks and female representation dwindles.

The attorneys we honor this year in our Women’s Justice Awards are trailblazers. Glass-ceiling breakers.

For 23 years, this recognition program has honored women who have improved Missouri’s legal community.  Today, the program is as relevant as it was more than two decades ago because these women are leaders, despite the lack of parity that still remains after so many firsts.

They hold positions of strength. They lead firms. They teach the next generation. They aspire to a new future.

Our panel of distinguished members of the 2021 selection committee reviewed scores of nominations that included women from every spectrum of the profession and throughout the state. They judged these nominations based on the core principals of leadership, professionalism, accomplishment and passion for making a difference.

It is my honor, my privilege, to present these women to you today with this special Missouri Lawyers Media publication.

We appreciate their contributions, and we marvel at their success. It has come, after all, with a level of gender disparity that makes each of their roads a little more difficult.

Missouri Lawyers Media proudly salutes these remarkable women.

Liz Irwin, Publisher, Missouri Lawyers Media

Women’s Justice Awards 2021 honoree profiles

Woman of the Year

This woman truly stands out in making an extraordinary difference to improve the quality of justice or exemplify the highest ideals of the legal profession.

Susan E. Block, Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal (pic in system)

Corporate Award

These women serve as general or in-house counsel, advising businesses on complex legal matters.

Monica J. Allen, Washington University in St. Louis

Whittney Dunn, The Bar Plan

Jovita M. Foster, Drury Hotels

Amy Moore Harris, UMB Financial Corporation

Jennifer Matthew, Alaris

General Practitioner Award

These are the women who, as attorneys, do it all. They handle multiple practice areas with skill.

Joanna V. Billingsley, Law Offices of Joanna V. Billingsley

Terri D. Lowdon, Mark H. Wissehr Law Offices

Innovation & Technology Award

These women advise companies, startups and entrepreneurs with legal issues regarding intellectual property, technology and other aspects of their business.

Kristine L. Kappel, Husch Blackwell

Anna Quinn, Avant Law Group

Litigation Practitioner Award

These litigators have made their careers in the courtroom — criminal or civil, representing plaintiff or defense.

Theresa A. Appelbaum, Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum

Ashley E. Benoist, Stanton | Barton

Deborah Blakely, White, Graham, Buckley & Carr

Susan L. Brown Miles, Evans & Dixon

Kristi Burmeister, PEAK Litigation

Lauren C. Collins, The Automobile Club of Missouri – (Kraft, Bischoff, Buckley & Collins)

L. Annette Griggs, Griggs Injury Law

Brenda G. Hamilton, Seigfreid Bingham

Megan S. Heinsz, Dowd Bennett

Susan Herold, Rynearson, Suess, Schnurbusch & Champion

Meghan Lewis, Sandberg Phoenix

Nichelle L. Oxley, Humphrey Farrington & McClain

Rachel A. Riso, Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson

Camille L. Roe, Jackson Lewis

Brandy K. Simpson, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice

Deme Sotiriou, Schultz & Myers

Megan R. Stumph-Turner, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice

Brianne Thomas, Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish

Lindsey M. VanFleet, Law Office of Buccero & VanFleet

Lauren Williams, SWMW Law

Public Service Award

These women work on behalf of a nonprofit organization, government agency or the judiciary; or have made their mark in education.

Karen Aroesty, regional director, ADL Heartland

Betsy AuBuchon, clerk, Missouri Supreme Court

Mary Bozarth, City of Springfield

Caroline M. Coulter, Office of Missouri Governor

Julia Crader Dolan, Scott County Public Administrator

Crissy Del Percio, staff attorney and pro se supervisor, Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Jennifer R. Growcock, circuit judge, Christian County Circuit Court

Mary Kathryn Hoff, appellate judge, Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District

Laura Roy, clerk, Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District

Kate Schaefer, circuit judge, Andrew and Buchanan counties

Josephine (Jody) Stockard, U.S Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri

Courtney Wachal, municipal judge, Kansas City Municipal Domestic Violence Court

Pro Bono Award

These awards honor the women attorneys who have contributed significant effort and time to pro bono work.

Teresa L. Anderson, Polsinelli

Alexus N. Williams, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

Sandra J. Wirtel, Spencer Fane

Transactional Practitioner Award

These women counsel companies, individuals and organizations on the legal issues generated by their business dealings or financial matters.

Elizabeth Fast, Spencer Fane

Adrienne B. Haynes, SEED Law

Joy Harris Hennessy, Thompson Coburn

Marian V. “Bo” Mehan, Lewis Rice

Leaders of Tomorrow Award

These law students demonstrate leadership, professionalism and a passion for making a difference in the justice system or legal profession.

Dara Alvarado, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Chioma Chukwu-Smith, Saint Louis University School of Law

Calann “Cay” Edwards, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Tori Schafer, University of Missouri School of Law

Women's Justice Awards 2021