12:50 PM

2020 Spurgeon Smithson Award recipients named

The 2020 honorees for the Spurgeon Smithson Awards are Judge Robert Dowd Jr., lawyer Mira Mdivani and Judge Patrick Robb. The Spurgeon Smithson awards are made annually by The Missouri Bar Foundation to Missouri judges, teachers of law, and/or lawyers deemed to have rendered outstanding service toward the increase and dissemination of justice. 

Dowd was educated at University of Missouri-St. Louis; Quincy College and obtained his JD from St. Mary's University. After working in private practice, he was elected as a magistrate judge in 1978 and retained as an associate circuit judge in 1982. Dowd was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1994 and was chief judge from 1998-99.   

 Service as a trial and appellate judge for 41 years allowed me to hopefully address legal issues that affect real people,” Dowd said when asked about his work. “During my time on the bench I have been involved in many committees that contributed to the administration of justice and been involved in community work as part of my obligation as an attorney and a citizen.”  

Dowd was asked what this award meant personally, noting that Robert Dowd Sr. Was selected for the same honor in 1989. 

My father, who was my life example and mentor, also won this award, so I am humbled by having just some comparison to him,” said Dowd. “I am also grateful to be honored by my peers when I know the type of all the people who are eligible for this award.  

Mdivani’s legal practice in Kansas City focuses on complex immigration matters, such as corporate immigration compliance and internal I-9 audits. She also defends employers in Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor investigations triggered by allegations of immigration non-compliance and helps implement talent acquisition strategies involving visas for international personnel. In addition, for more than 20 years, her firm has maintained an active pro bono practice representing immigrant women and children who have experienced domestic violence.  

The Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm was recognized in 2019 with a Pro Bono Publico Award for their work not only with clients in the Kansas City area, but also for the time the entire firm spent in Texas helping immigrant women and children prepare for asylum hearings. 

Mdivani said her dedication to public service and equal justice under the law is viewed through the lens of her history of pro bono work.  

I am thankful to The Missouri Bar Foundation for the Spurgeon Smithson Award,” Mdivani said. “It is humbling and uplifting to be given such an honor by my peers. 

Robb graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in political science before obtaining his JD from UMKC. He has served as a Missouri judge since 1986. Robb has been recognized for outstanding leadership by the St. Joseph YMCA and in 2017 received the Judicial Excellence Award from the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri.  

Robb’s thoughts on his accomplishments include significant pride over improving the operation of the court, especially in working collaboratively with others.  

“I served on the Supreme Court’s Committee on Procedure in Criminal Cases for a number of years, several of those as chair of the committee,” said Robb. “During that time, I worked with several outstanding lawyers and judges making recommendations to the Supreme Court on changes to court rules and jury instructions including changes to the instructions as a result of the enactment of the new Criminal Code in 2017. 

Robb added, “When working with the law and the facts of a particular case, there are always new things to learn and understand.” 

The Spurgeon Smithson Awards were established in 1976 by bequest of Spurgeon Smithson, an outstanding Kansas City lawyer. The award includes a $2,000 stipend. Clickhereto learn more about The Missouri Bar’s annual awards. For a list of all past recipients of this award visit this link.