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2022 In-House Counsel Awards: Joel Samson

Centene Corporation

Joel SamsonAt Centene Corporation, Joel Samson is known as a problem solver, a trusted strategic adviser and a business partner to senior leadership and clients. Samson is vice president of legal affairs at the Fortune 100 corporation, a publicly traded managed care company in St. Louis.

After two decades as a trial attorney at Husch Blackwell, where he managed complex business disputes and many other areas of business law, Samson was ready to try something new.

“My undergraduate degree is in business, and I was always intrigued with the business side of law, so when an opportunity opened up at Centene, it was hard to pass up,” he said.
Samson, 50, says he’s most passionate about working with his team at Centene.

“I have good people around me, and we make each other’s jobs and lives easier,” he added. “It’s all about the camaraderie that happens on a team.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Samson went on to earn his JD from Washington University in St. Louis.

In Samson’s nomination, he was called a trailblazer who has “made changes to the internal legal department that have created new efficiencies for Centene, and is known as an approachable legal partner, who is responsive and brings solutions to questions and problems.”

When Samson is not at work, he enjoys running, hiking, and spending time outdoors. He also enjoys supporting his teenaged kids in their sporting endeavors and has coached their teams in the past. He has fond memories of the years he spent as a coach, shaping young lives.

“It’s about teaching kids, being around them and mentoring them that can help put a smile on their faces and shape how they are, not just how to play sports, but about how to win, how to lose, how to compete, and how to never give up,” he said.

These are lessons he embodies in his professional role too.

“Whether Joel’s answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ he wants key stakeholders to know how he and his team came to that decision,” his nominator wrote. “He has done this by giving his team the autonomy to do their jobs.”

While Samson encourages his team to solve problems on their own, he doesn’t push them away if they need help. As a facilitator, he enjoys helping his team develop strong relationships, and trusts them to move projects forward by giving them the autonomy to manage the day-to-day, but he is always ready to jump in for high-level strategy.

To be an effective attorney in a corporate role, it takes a strategic focus, Samson said.

“Know your audience, be prepared, and keep an eye on the bigger picture,” he said. “And above all, find a way to make everyone around you better, which is just going to make you better.”