Saint Louis Bar Foundation President Paul Venker, along with President-Elect Patrick Chavez, recently moved the SLBF in a new direction. The changes provide a greater degree of focus with the hope to accomplish more for the legal profession and community the SLBF seek to serve. As the philanthropic arm of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Foundation’s mission statement was updated and provides their initial re-focus.
Promoting the Rule of Law-Advancing the Spirit of Justice
Be it known to all that the Board of the Saint Louis Bar Foundation hereby declares its mission:
To promote the importance of the Rule of Law and the administration of justice in our society, both in the community at large as well as in the legal profession. As to the community, the Foundation seeks to improve the administration of justice not only through law-related education, but also through charitable undertakings. As to the legal profession, the Foundation is committed to strengthening it by encouraging attorneys not only to reach the highest levels of professionalism and civility, but also to engage in meaningful community service.
Members of the Saint Louis Bar Foundation Board formulated this mission statement after much thought and discussion about what its role should be for the St. Louis Bar and community. This was time well spent. Lawyers have a responsibility not only to the profession and to the courts, but also to the community at large. We do well, as lawyers, to aid non-lawyers in understanding more fully why our judicial system is so important to our free society. Perhaps at least equally important, however, is helping others see that small groups of citizens can effectively administer justice outside the courts, even to the point where even one passionate and caring person can advance the spirit of justice.
As seen in other sections of this website, the Saint Louis Bar Foundation has actively supported projects, big and small, in pursuit of its mission. This ranges from in its two annual outreach mainstays – Motion for Kids and the High School Mock Trial program, to seemingly modest grants to grass roots not-for-profit organizations, to being a rallying point for significant projects, such as the renovation of the City’s Civil Courts Building (Cornerstone Campaign).
Motion for Kids (MFK) provides an annual holiday party each December for metropolitan area children whose lives have been affected by the justice system. MFK is a St. Louis Bar Foundation project, conducted in conjunction with the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, SLU Law and the Issac Bruce Foundation.
Women in the Legal Profession Scholarship is awarded annually to a law student in an internship with a qualified, metropolitan area organization. Preference is given to applicants whose internships involve legal issues affecting women, including domestic issues such as violence and child custody, but also others such as gender fairness.
Law School Diversity Scholarships one way to strengthen the Bar is to assist those underrepresented groups whose members lack the financial resources, but not the passion and interest, to become a lawyer. The goal of this scholarship program is to increase diversity in the law schools in our region.
Professionalism and Civility Initiative many of us may not consider this, but within the legal community the Rule of Law is manifested through the cornerstone concepts and practices of professionalism and civility. This initiative will implement programs to provide resources to assist and educate members of the Bar in their efforts to strike the proper balance of zealous representation, trustworthiness and collegiality.
High School Mock Trial Program this annual program provides high school students the opportunity to prepare for trial and to try a civil or criminal case. Local judges and lawyers volunteer to work with the trial teams and to serve as judges and evaluators during the trials. The state champion team competes at the national level. The Bar Foundation jointly runs this program with BAMSL.
It is the intention of the Foundation to get more attorneys and firms involved in their core projects and programs. This can be done through active participation in Foundation activities, as well as becoming a Foundation Fellow. Donations to the Foundation, through this web site also enable our work. The site is set up so just about any amount can be donated, and donors even have a say in how their donation is directed. It provides an easy, tax deductible way to help the Foundation achieve its stated goals – and help others in need as well. If you’re inclined toward scholarships, you can make that happen. If you prefer law related education, you can specify that direction as well.