The pandemic changed people’s thoughts, goals and ideas planetwide, and Ashley Schuette, who was working in the general counsel’s office at CoxHealth, was no exception.
“It kind of triggered me to think about what I wanted to do with my career,” said the 42-year-old Bolivar native. “I wanted to do something a little more lighthearted than some of the stuff I was dealing with at the hospital.”
The answer came in the form of a job as general counsel for Andy’s Frozen Custard, a southwest Missouri enterprise that has spread to more than a dozen states. It is at Andy’s that Schuette has found a taste of success at the unusual nexus of law books and frozen treats, a position she calls “a pretty sweet gig”.
After beginning her career in at an all-male firm in late 2005 doing insurance defense, the Mizzou law grad moved to McCarthy Leonard Kaemmerer less than two years later where she focused on construction and general litigation. She assumed duties as deputy general counsel at CoxHealth in 2008 where she was twice honored with the Partners Spirit Award. This year marks the second time she will be recognized in the Women’s Justice Awards which celebrated her as a Rising Star in 2016.
She said that her motto has always been that the truth will set you free, which means owning mistakes.
“This sometimes means taking responsibility for your part in something that didn’t go well and making sure that it goes better moving forward,” she writes. “Beating around the bush isn’t productive and doesn’t make you better.”
Schuette, who originally studied premed in school, believes that things have changed substantially for females in the legal arena during her career.
“Women bring something to the workplace in that their energy and point of view is often different,” she writes, noting that working professionals have to balance relationships, children and personal development. “I’ve been fortunate to have excellent mentors who have quite literally paved the way for the rest of us.”
That’s represented a significant improvement in the field — one she sees at her job every day.
“I feel like now there are just as many women as there are men in the legal profession,” she said in an interview. “I have a seat at the table of our management of our company just like all the men that are there. We have more female employees than we have male employees.”