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Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023: Publisher’s Letter, honorees

Staff Report//February 8, 2023//

Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023 logo

Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023: Publisher’s Letter, honorees

Staff Report//February 8, 2023//

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Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023 logo

2022 was the year life began to return to normal. People began returning to the movie theaters, eating out and going to shopping malls. In the legal community, courts began to tackle backlogged dockets and law firms developed hybrid workplaces to accommodate attorneys and others who had gotten used to remote work during the COVID pandemic. During the last two years, courts created systems and levels of alert that establish safety protocols while working hard not to limit access. Firms found ways to protect employees and clients while continuing to facilitate representation.

Missouri Lawyers Media took a long look back at this incredible year to not only identify those gladiators who marked big verdict and settlement wins for their clients in 2022, but those whose actions in and out of the courtroom have had — or will have — significant impact on the profession.

The attorneys we recognize all carry the hallmarks of tremendous purpose and vision.

Of accomplishment and impact.

Nominations for these awards were submitted from across the state and from a wealth of resources. The nominations alone are a testament to the great work practiced day in and day out by so many dedicated men and women. But in selecting the honorees, we witness the ripple effect of their work as well. In addition to the profession, these lawyers make a commitment to their communities, however they define that.

They are leaders, not followers. They understand and demonstrate that service to their communities isn’t a byproduct of success; in fact, success is a byproduct of service.

On behalf of everyone at Missouri Lawyers Media, I extend our sincerest congratulations to the 2023 Missouri Lawyers Awards honorees. We are proud to be a part of this recognition and grateful to those honored this year.

— Liz Irwin

Lawyer of the Year

Joan M. Swartz of The Law Offices of Joan W. Swartz, who achieved significant results at trial, championed an important cause or won a precedential ruling on appeal in two signficant cases.

Influential Lawyers

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 M. 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 G. 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.

Legal Champions

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 A. 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 C. 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 A. 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.

Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023

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