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Women’s Justice Awards 2023: Publisher’s letter, honorees

Women's Justice Awards 2023 logo

In 1998, President Bill Clinton established Women’s History Month, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the women’s rights movement in America. The women and men who gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, in July of 1848 for the first Women’s Rights Convention in history gave voice to women’s aspirations for inclusion and empowerment, and their vision continues to shape our world today.

Susan A. Bocamazo

Susan A. Bocamazo

The following year, 1999, the company that would become Missouri Lawyers Media established its own recognition event — the Women’s Justice Awards, to honor the accomplishments of women attorneys.

Women had been making significant contributions to the legal profession since before the founding of our nation. In 1648, Margaret Brent appeared before a court of law in the Maryland colony as the first woman to “act” as an attorney. In 1869, Arabella Mansfield became the first woman admitted to a state bar. In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Clearly, female legal firsts weren’t a new phenomenon in 1999, but it was a time of great anticipation. In just one decade — the 1970s — the number of female attorneys in the U.S. grew from 13,000 to 62,000 — moving from 4 percent of the profession’s total to 12 per­cent. Today, women comprise more than half of law-school students.

In Missouri, three of the seven judges on the state supreme court are women, including Robin Ransom, the court’s first Black female judge. For the first time, a majority of judges on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, are women. One of the largest law firms in Missouri is chaired by Catherine Hanaway, who also was the first woman elected Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. Attorney Claire McCaskill was the first woman from Missouri elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006; she now serves as a political analyst on MSNBC. And a growing number of women are branching out to set up their own firms throughout the state.

So, while parity has not been realized in the profession, great strides have been made since we first started honoring women in the legal field.

And now, 25 years after the first WJA recog­nition program, we continue to honor wom­en attorneys in what has become an annual tradition in the Missouri legal community.

Frankie Muse Freeman headlined at that 1999 inaugural event as our first Woman of the Year. No one else could have filled the role better. An icon not only in Missouri but in the United States as a whole, she was a civil-rights attorney who was appointed in 1964 as the first woman on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She lived for more than a century while helping others through her compassion and commitment.

In the 25 years of WJA, the hundreds of outstanding attorneys we have honored have paid it forward in the same way, reaching a hand back to the women who will follow them into the profession. Their contributions are varied, but they all share one characteristic: They are truly exceptional lawyers.

Please enjoy this look back at twenty-five years of celebration and recognition of the achievements of our WJA honorees.


Susan A. Bocamazo 


Woman of the Year

This woman truly stands out in making an extraordinary difference to improve the quality of justice or exemplify the highest ideals of the legal profession.

Barbara Wallace, Lexitas

Corporate Award

These women serve as general or in-house counsel, advising businesses on complex legal matters.

Jamie Allen, Saint Luke’s Health System

Latieke Lyles, Wells Fargo

Katherine Scannell, Washington University School of Law

Erika Schenk, World Wide Technology

General Practitioner Award

These are the women who, as attorneys, do it all. They handle multiple practice areas with skill.

Kimberly J. Carter, Law Office of Shawn D. Young

Amanda L. Grellner, Law Office of Amanda L. Grellner

Diane C. Howard, Limbaugh Firm

Innovation & Technology Award

These women advise companies, startups and entrepreneurs with legal issues regarding intellectual property, technology and other aspects of their business.

Stacy Harper, Spencer Fane

Leaders of Tomorrow Award

These law students demonstrate leadership, professionalism and a passion for making a difference in the justice system or legal profession.

Wensdai Brooks, University of Missouri School of Law

Kylee Gomez, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Austynn Hicks, Saint Louis University School of Law

Cara Hunt, Washington University School of Law

Litigation Practitioner Award

These litigators have made their careers in the courtroom — criminal or civil, representing plaintiff or defense.

Amy Bender-Levy, Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal

Anne-Marie Brockland, Casey, Devoti & Brockland

Michelle Cocayne, Turney LG

Sheena Foye, Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian

Heather Hatley, Franke Schultz & Mullen

Shari Lockhart, Evans & Dixon

Maylin Mahoney, Wolk & Associates

Lauren Tucker McCubbin, Polsinelli

Lucy McShane, McShane & Brady

Jessica Merrigan, Spencer Fane

Jennine Adamek Moore, Franke Schultz & Mullen

Catherine Reade, Haden Cowherd & Bullock

Ashley Ricket, Ricket Law Firm

Jackalyn A. Olinger Rochelle, Bailey Glasser

Rachel Roman, Zevan Davidson Roman

Inez J. Ross, OnderLaw

JoAnn Sandifer, Husch Blackwell

Steffanie Stracke, Edelman & Thompson

Pro Bono Award

These awards honor the women attorneys who have contributed significant effort and time to pro bono work.

Jenna Brofsky and Kelli Meilink, Husch Blackwell

Charli E. Steed, Spencer Fane

Public Service Award

These women work on behalf of a nonprofit organization, government agency or the judiciary; or have made their mark in education.

Amy Hirsch Diemer, Catholic Legal Assistance Ministries

Renee Hardin-Tammons, appellate judge, Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District

Kendra R. Howard, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Jessica L. Kruse, circuit judge, Christian County Circuit

Julia Pusateri Lasater, Associate Circuit Judge, St. Louis County Circuit Court

Denise Lieberman, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition

Jalilah Otto, presiding judge, Jackson County Circuit Court

Martina L. Peterson, judge, Kansas City Municipal Court

Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Phillips, chief judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Kimberley Pulley, Greene County Prosecutor’s Office

Katherine Schmidt, Missouri State Public Defender’s Office

Megan Seay, circuit judge, 42nd Judicial Circuit

Transactional Practitioner Award

These women counsel companies, individuals and organizations on the legal issues generated by their business dealings or financial matters.

Kelly Sullivan Angles, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard

Elizabeth O’Brien Felker, Spencer Fane

Desarae G. Harrah, Harrah Law

Alexandra Johnson, AJ Legal Services

Ann Bodewes Stephens, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard

Women's Justice Awards 2023

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