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Robert Budenholzer

Vice President & General Counsel, North America, Curium Pharma

Robert Budenholzer earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering in 1981. Although he doesn’t use the specific skills he acquired then in his legal career today, he said he wouldn’t switch that experience for any other.

“It was a really great education in problem-solving,” he said.

Robert BudenholzerSeven years after earning that engineering degree, Budenholzer was a senior engineer at McDonnell Douglas Corporation when he decided to give law school a go. He remained at McDonnell Douglas for another five years while he attended the evening law program at Saint Louis University School of Law, earning his degree in 1992.

“I put my toe in the water, and I really found it very, very stimulating and interesting even after a full day of work. It was a new and different challenge,” he said. “It provided its own additional energy for me, and so for the most part I really enjoyed law school.”

After graduation, Budenholzer joined what then was Bryan Cave.

“[That] was an outstanding firm to be with. I thought it was a great experience,” he said. “I was really pleased to work with a lot of sharp people and find that they were really personable and fun. It was a great baptism into the legal profession.”

Still, he found it difficult to maintain work-life balance while also raising children during that period, he said. So when a Bryan Cave client, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, was looking for in-house counsel support, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s really proven to be one of the best moves of my career,” he said

A quarter-century after that career move, he is vice president & general counsel, North America for Curium Pharma, a nuclear medicine company formed by Mallinckrodt and IBA Molecular.

“He is smart, dedicated to his job and willing to work long hours to accomplish whatever goal is on his desk,” his nominator wrote. “. . . he is one of the most talented in-house counsel attorneys in St. Louis but rarely receives recognition for his accomplishments.”

Through his in-house career, Budenholzer has enjoyed not only tackling legal points but also contributing to his company’s business strategy.

“I think I’ve been very blessed,” he said. “I enjoy what I do and the folks I work with, so that makes the hard work and longer hours not so bad.”

Budenholzer also is active with various organizations, including United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater St. Louis, Canterbury Enterprises Inc. and Easterseals Midwest.

He advises young lawyers to work hard and find ways to give back to the community through voluntary service on behalf of a charitable organization.

“I think being willing to work hard is a must. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put in mega-hours, but I think you have to be reliable and invested. And I think there’s more than one way to get things done,” he said. “I think you can make a good and rewarding career while still being respectful of folks. I think you can deal with customers, suppliers [and] folks with whom you have disputes, but you can be respectful and collegial.”

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