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WJA 2023: Diane C. Howard

Laura Warfel//May 11, 2023

WJA 2023: Diane C. Howard

Laura Warfel//May 11, 2023

Diane HowardShareholder and Director
The Limbaugh Firm, Cape Girardeau

Being a lawyer is a challenge. Being a woman lawyer is a challenge. Being a lawyer in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Navy is a challenge. Diane Howard has accepted and succeeded in all these challenges during her career.

“When people meet me for the first time, I think they are surprised that I’m not five foot ten,” Howard says. “Many times, people have said to me: ‘You’re not really what I expected.’ When I was in the military, I always had to be behind a podium. I had a wooden box to stand on so people could see me.”

Shortly after earning her JD from Saint Louis University School of Law, Howard joined the U.S. Navy. For three years, she served as a criminal prosecutor in the JAG Corps, and then served in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Navy Reserve for 22 years. She was primarily involved in units associated with military justice.

“Much of who I am is because of JAG,” Howard says. “In the late 1980s, I tried a drug conspiracy case in Cuba. I had to eat at the officers’ club every night during that time, and I was the only female officer there.” She retired at the rank of Captain.

In 1984, Howard joined The Limbaugh Firm. Her practice areas include personnel and employment law from the management perspective, education law and family law. Howard recalls when she and one of the other women in her firm were the only two women attorneys practicing in Cape Girardeau and southeast Missouri.

One of Howard’s most memorable cases was tried on appeal in the Missouri Supreme Court and involved a lawsuit brought by school districts against Governor Ashcroft for withholding part of the state funding that was supposed to go to school districts. Plaintiffs prevailed in the trial court, but didn’t fare as well in the appeal process.

“I believe that the quality of our profession affects the quality of justice,” Howard says. “Every day, I do the best I can to make this profession better, especially for young women attorneys.”

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