Then again, most lawyers haven’t helped to found churches across three continents.
Sterling said he tried out a number of jobs but, ultimately, he decided that the law was someplace he could make a difference in the world.
“I wasn’t all that interested in the business side at the time,” said the New York University graduate, “but that’s changed some over the years.”
It certainly has. The son of Eastern European immigrants, Sterling obtained a position at the forerunner of Stinson where he helped to build its real estate practice.
“From my law school days, I got involved in the American Bar Association so, through that, I got involved in the real estate group and eventually chaired the Title Insurance Committee of the Real Property Section of the ABA,” recalled the New York native.
He later became a national underwriter for a title company where he was involved with a number of transactions around Kansas City.
He would eventually go on to take a break from the law after a former partner from Stinson invited him to be a part of non-profit work helping to plant churches worldwide. Ordained as a Southern Baptist, he used his leadership skills assisting with houses of worship from Ukraine to Guatemala for seven years with Global Missions Fellowship. Later, he’d become vice-president in charge of operations at Children of Promise International supporting orphanages worldwide.
Finally, he’d become senior vice-president and COO of the Leadership Foundation of Kansas City to help address problems related to urban poverty.
It wasn’t until 2006 when he finally returned to practice at Gilmore & Bell on what was supposed to be a part-time contract basis. By the following year, he was a shareholder in the firm where he remains today.
Now 68, Sterling still works full-time providing real estate legal support for public and economic development projects throughout Missouri for public entities and nonprofits such as schools, colleges and medical and senior care facilities, along with his involvement, often on a pro bono basis, with a wide array of community development groups and projects.
Sterling, who notes that he represents public entities from federal agencies “right down to sewer and water districts” said that his policy education goes all the way back to college and his current work allows him to indulge his lifelong love of architecture.
“I was involved in lots of the skyscrapers and developments downtown and throughout the city,” he noted proudly. “It is fun to drive around and say, ‘I had a part in that’.”