Editor’s note: A previous post announcing our Lawyer of the Year, Joan Swartz, erroneously attributed a verdict to her. Swartz was not part of the legal team that won a $20 million verdict for four women who alleged they were assaulted by a Missouri correctional officer. Jenifer Snow, an attorney in Swartz’s office, helped try the case.
Missouri Lawyers Media sincerely regrets the error. It does not diminish our confidence in our choice for Lawyer of the Year. This post has been revised to accurately reflect Swartz’s accomplishments in 2022.
Missouri Lawyers Media’s Lawyer of the Year is meant to honor attorneys who achieved significant results at trial, championed an important cause or won a precedential ruling on appeal. In 2022, Joan Swartz blended those accomplishments in two significant cases.
In March, Swartz, of The Law Offices of Joan M. Swartz in St. Louis, won a sizeable verdict on behalf of a former administrative law judge who faced discrimination on the job. The $1.36 million trial victory came after the Missouri Supreme Court reversed an earlier win and after her client died while waiting for his day in court during the pandemic.
That same month, she prevailed in a case in the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District that allowed her client’s employment discrimination suit to proceed while clarifying a critical deadline under the Missouri Human Rights Act that should speed the state’s processing of cases.
Swartz is among 25 lawyers who will be honored at the 2023 Missouri Lawyers Awards on Thursday, Feb. 9. They will be joined by our Verdicts & Settlements winners — those who achieved the largest verdicts, settlements, judgment and defense wins of 2022, which will be announced in early January.
Our other 2023 winners are:
Awarded to the newsmakers — the Missouri lawyers who made substantial contributions to the legal community this year.
Tim Dollar of Dollar, Burns, Becker & Hershewe, who serves as a special prosecutor for Jackson County and achieved several high-profile convictions in 2022, including that of a man found guilty of murdering a Kansas City trial attorney.
Jerry Hunter of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, who helped lead the bipartisan commission that, for the first time in decades, redrew the state’s House districts unanimously.
Mark Pedroli of Pedroli Law, who won an important ruling in a Sunshine Law case against the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.
Alan Pratzel, who retired in November after 15 years as the state’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel.
John Schultz of Franke Schultz & Mullen, who has vigorously defended the embattled Agape Boarding School in southern Missouri, which faces state action and multiple civil suits alleging abuse of students.
Awarded to plaintiffs’ or defense lawyers, not based on the size of verdicts, but the importance of the principle or policy at stake.
Retired St. Louis Circuit Judge Evelyn Baker, for her efforts to free Bobby Bostic, whom she sentenced to 241 years in prison in the late 1990s.
Edward “E.E.” Keenan of Keenan & Bhatia, who served as a special prosecutor in a rushed and ultimately doomed effort to review the conviction of death row inmate Kevin Johnson.
St. Louis Circuit Judge David Mason and Paul Venker of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, who led the effort to install the Freedom Suits Memorial in St. Louis that recognizes Black Missourians who attempted to use the courts to fight their enslavement.
Nick Smart and Jacob Lewis of Strong-Garner-Bauer, who took on the pro bono defense of an employee accused of embezzlement and won her acquittal.
Influential Appellate Advocates
Awarded to the lawyers behind the most significant appellate decisions of the year.
Robert Bruce of Doyle & Associates, who won a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that school districts can be held liable for claims of retaliation against an employee for claiming workers’ compensation.
Tim Cronin, John M. Simon and Elizabeth McNulty of The Simon Law Firm, who successfully argued that their client could claim the higher of two caps on the noneconomic damages a jury awarded her for her burn injuries.
David McCain of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and Jeff McPherson of Armstrong Teasdale, who fended off a novel effort to hold a law firm liable for allegedly aiding an employer in discriminating against a man.
Jesus Osete, general counsel for the Secretary of State’s Office and formerly the state’s deputy solicitor general, who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a challenge to a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate and filed an eye-catching brief in a pending redistricting case.
Law Firm Leaders
Awarded to chairpersons, managing partners or other law firm executives who demonstrated extraordinary vision, innovation and leadership during the year.
Robert Klahr of Armstrong Teasdale, who leads the firm’s financial and real estate services practice group.
Corey Kraushaar of Brown & James, who has helped lead the firm through its recent recommitment to downtown St. Louis.
Allison Murdock of Stinson, the managing partner of one of Missouri’s biggest law firms.
Joseph Passanise of Wampler & Passanise, who led his Springfield firm through the death of his law partner and the firm’s office manager.
Elizabeth Wente of Spencer Fane, who chairs the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee.
Mitchell Wood of Halbrook Wood, who has helped reshape the Prairie Village, Kansas, firm that he now co-owns in just a few short years.
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