Sara G. Neill
BAMSL President, 2019-20
Shareholder, Capes Sokol
Originally published in the December 2019 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
The holiday season is upon us. We already have had snow and there have been reindeer strategically placed around the Galleria since Halloween. Lego catalogs arrive in the mail every other day (ugh, we have so many Legos at our home we could open a museum) and the holiday aisles at Schnucks are stocked with red and green wrapping paper and M&Ms, mini-Christmas trees, and popcorn tins.
I have always loved the holiday season. As a child, I looked forward each year to family traditions like baking cookies with my mom and sisters, decorating the tree, Christmas music, especially "Carol of the Bells" and "O Holy Night," shopping for gifts, and the long break from school. Now, I enjoy sharing those traditions with my own children, establishing new traditions, and taking some time away from the office to spend with family.
I also enjoy several work-related holiday traditions, including Capes Sokol's annual holiday party, and the various law firm and legal association hosted holiday parties. There seems to be something going on every evening during the month of December. This year, BAMSL's member holiday party is on Dec. 4 — I hope to see you all there. These parties are a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and just enjoy being a part of our wonderful legal community.
Recently, I had coffee with a new attorney from another city. She asked about our legal community and I provided her several examples of things we are doing either to promote collegiality or for our greater St. Louis community:
- In early November, more than 110 St. Louis area attorneys and judges volunteered together packing meals for the hungry as part of St. Louis World Food Day. The volunteers were organized by BAMSL's St. Louis Attorneys Against Hunger project. In addition to volunteering, several St. Louis law firms made financial contributions. Thank you to these law firms for their generosity and support: Brown & Crouppen, P.C.; Capes Sokol, P.C.; Dowd & Dowd, P.C.; Dowd Bennett LLP; Husch Blackwell LLP; Lewis Rice LLC; OnderLaw, LLC; Polsinelli PC; Rossiter & Boock, LLC; and The Simon Law Firm, P.C. Together, we raised more than $25,000.
- In mid-November, BAMSL's Women in the Legal Profession (WILP) Section, chaired by Ruth Schneider, hosted its annual reception for new women attorneys. I was ecstatic to see several dozen of our members, including many judges, present to welcome our new attorneys to the St. Louis legal community, provide mentorship, and to support the WILP Section.
- The Lawyers Association just presented its annual Gridiron show. This is one of the highlights of the year in our legal community. Justin Guerra, the Lawyers Association president, joined a wonderful cast to sing and dance on stage. BAMSL's President-Elect Glenn Norton appeared in the show, singing a couple of songs. He has a great voice. I am hoping he decides to sing for us at Law Day 2020.
- Finally, BAMSL is preparing for its annual Motion for Kids (MFK) event, which will be held on the afternoon of Sat., Dec. 14. MFK is an annual holiday party for children who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Typically, more than 2,500 children attend and our area law firms come together to purchase gifts for each of them. The event is planned by members of our legal community, and more than 400 lawyers and judges volunteer at the event.
I could have provided many more specific examples of things our legal community is doing for lawyers and the community.
I also enjoy the holiday season because it is a good time to reflect on the past year and consider what is going well, where improvement is needed, and to set personal and professional goals. This year, wearing my BAMSL president "stocking" hat, I have been working with our executive committee and BAMSL's staff to set goals and plan for 2020.
If like me, you set professional goals for yourself at the end of the year, I hope you will consider getting involved in BAMSL if you are not already involved. I am always happy to meet for lunch or coffee with any member who just wants some direction about where to start. It is such a large organization with so much going on, that it can be hard to know what to do first.
Happy Holidays, everyone.