Senior Associate, Spencer Fane, Springfield
Focusing too much on the demands of the job and billable hours can be easy for an attorney. Charli Steed balances billable and non-billable legal work in a way that is influencing other attorneys to start pro bono projects of their own.
“Charli is a true asset in building Spencer Fane’s culture of giving back and being an advocate for pro bono work,” says Steed’s nominator for this award. “Charli’s passion in this area truly makes a big difference in our firm and in the Springfield community.”
In her work with the Drew Lewis Foundation — supporting its mission to educate, empower and support underserved families in the Springfield area — Steed helps people develop skills and gain knowledge they don’t yet have. “It takes a lot of patience to do this work,” she says. “We give people plenty of chances and the tools they need to be productive members of society. I will always continue this work.”
Steed grew up in one of Missouri’s poorest counties, and then earned her JD and LLM from Washington University School of Law. Now, she is committed to giving back to her community and helping underserved communities. Her practice areas are tax and estate planning, and she is an advocate for everyone’s need for an estate plan, regardless of their economic status.
“There’s a reason ‘counselor at law’ is in the name of our profession,” Steed says. “As an attorney, I help people by talking, listening and giving advice that will make a difference in their lives.” One of Steed’s most memorable cases was representing a widow who lost her husband last year and was left with eight children to raise. Steed helped the woman navigate the probate process as well as everything else she was dealing with.
“Participating in karate from ages 6 to 19 helped shape my personality and career,” Steed says. “I’m a third-degree black belt. I’m headstrong and willing to stand up for the little guy or gal. I speak my mind and call out what’s not right. I want the legal system to be accessible to everyone, especially those in need or who have been wronged.”