Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Don't miss
Home / Supplements and Special Sections / WJA 2021: Theresa A. Appelbaum

WJA 2021: Theresa A. Appelbaum

From legal secretary to lawyer — at the same law firm. Theresa Appelbaum understands the many aspects of being a woman in the practice of law.

appelbaumWhile working full time as a legal secretary with plaintiff’s firms, Appelbaum took classes at night to earn her B.A. in history from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Then she went on to law school — attending full-time and working part-time — and earned her J.D.

During her last year of law school, her daughter was born. When she graduated, her firm offered her a job as an attorney. For 16 years, she was a full-time single mom and a full-time lawyer.

Appelbaum knows firsthand the challenges women face in pursuing law as a career. “I had lawyers who saw talent in me and encouraged me to become an attorney,” she says. “Every day, I work for the betterment of women in this field. I advocate for women in helping them get employment and make professional connections. I empower them as they are determining their career paths.”

Today, Appelbaum is a principal and partner with Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum in
St. Louis. As a plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney, she handles “everything injury related” as well as a lot of appellate work. She also serves as president of The Lawyers Association of St. Louis and is on the board of directors for The Missouri Bar.

“My motivation in practicing law is to always be prepared and to out-prepare my opponents,” she says. “I remember my very first deposition. The doctor I was deposing bullied me and took control of the deposition. I vowed that I would never let that happen again, and I haven’t. Not with lawyers and not with witnesses.”

Seeing the raw emotion when someone’s life is changed by a settlement offer or jury trial never fails to move Appelbaum. “With personal injury law, my career highlights are someone else’s horrible tragedies,” she says. “Representing people with special needs who have been abused always takes a big emotional toll on me. But I feel like I’m doing something to help them.”

During the many unexpected challenges of the past year, Appelbaum remained committed to helping her clients. “I continue to work,” she says. “I haven’t had any cases go to trial this year. I show up every day and get the job done for my clients.”

One highlight in her leadership experience is serving on the Board of Governors with the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. She also serves on the Amicus Committee, writing briefs on behalf of Missouri citizens to help protect their right to a trial by jury. In her free time, she volunteers with The BackStoppers and at her church’s soup kitchen.

Appelbaum says, “I fight for justice every minute of every day in some capacity.”

Women's Justice Awards 2021