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ICON Awards 2022: Ruth Binger, Danna McKitrick, P.C.

Ruth BingerAs a 37-year veteran of the venerable Clayton firm, Ruth Binger leads Danna McKitrick’s transactional law group, overseeing mergers and acquisitions, tax, employment, cybersecurity, banking, intellectual property, real estate law and more.

Her informal title: CEO whisperer, thanks not only to her strategic and advisory acumen but as a longtime facilitator of several peer advisory boards for independent business owners.

“For years, Ruth has helped me proactively manage our businesses and has been there when reactive situations have cropped up that require legal counsel,” wrote client Chris Miget, president of EnvironPAK, in an online testimonial. “Her experience in confidentiality agreements, employment agreements, and HR legal strategy has allowed us to honor all voices and protect the interests of the company.”

“Bright, thoughtful, insightful, and professional are qualities Ruth brings to our successful business relationship,” another client added.

Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Binger moved to St. Louis in the mid-80s. A board appointment to what was then the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association (RCGA) led to the CEO roundtables, which began in 1994 and now consist of three groups of 8-10 members who meet monthly to share successes and challenges.

“As the owner of a company, you can’t talk to your employees (about these things),” she said. “You need to share with someone who can keep it confidential and who actually has some skin in the game.”

Binger, who received her undergraduate degree in economics from Northern Illinois University and her law degree from DePaul, said she was attracted to the discipline because “law brings order, (which) is necessary for a civilization to thrive.”

“I’m a pragmatist. I try not to let my ego get in the way,” she adds. “Strategy is everything. What is the best way to reach a goal with the least amount of blood drawn?”

The mother of a blended family with four children, Binger is married to Jerry Jost, a chemical engineer and business owner (Jost Chemical). Youngest daughter Emily graduated from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in May, with a position at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago to follow.

Binger is generous with praise for the business owners she counsels — and the real-world lessons she has learned working for a mid-sized law firm as such shops become increasingly sparse.

“Law is salt,” she said. “If you are a strategic businessperson, you use law to grow your business, not to fight for the sake of fighting. I learned a great deal about business from my clients and I try to apply it in my firm.”

ICON Awards 2022