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WJA 2022: Emily Woodward Guffey

Emily Woodward Guffey

Emily Woodward Guffey

Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost

Emily Woodward Guffey can say succinctly why she enjoys working in the legal field.

“Every day is different and every day you get to meet somebody new,” said the Eminence native. “You get a new set of facts to work with on every case and a lot of times, I feel like it is a puzzle to be solved.”

Woodward Guffey, 48, solves a lot of puzzles these days. She thought about making her life as a lawyer early on but her initial career was actually in marketing for a Mexico, Mo., plastics company.

“I had been interested in pursuing a career in law since high school and decided after I got out of undergraduate and worked in business for two or three years, that I really wanted to go back and become an attorney,” she said.

After graduating from Mizzou, she worked in civil litigation for a firm in Rolla before doing a stint at Legal Services of Southern Missouri where she’d eventually rise to become managing attorney of the office.

Eventually she began doing more family law, estate planning and probate work, even running her own firm for a time.

Five years ago, she started at Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost where she does everything from mediations to appellate work.

“She does it all and does it all well,” writes her nominator who notes that she has served as special master in the family court since 2008 and sits on the 25th Circuit Court’s Appointed Family Law Committee. “Her clients love her because she is a patient, caring advocate who always handles the different personalities and types of clients with gracious charm. Emily has turned her business school training, along with her legal and writing skills, into a very busy and successful practice.

A past president of the Phelps County Bar Association, she has organized continuing legal education courses for many years and been active as a volunteer for the Lioness Club and Ozark Actors Theatre.

Woodward Guffey feels that honesty and respect are vital in the legal profession.

“I’m not extremely aggressive in my approach with opposing counsel or the court because I don’t think that helps you resolve cases,” she noted. “To me, the most important thing you can do is to be respectful and kind to the court staff and to your own staff.”

She also has a favorite part of the job.

“Probably the best things I get to do are adoptions,” she said. “If you get to do enough of those, that makes everything else worthwhile.”

Women's Justice Awards 2022