08:23 AM

Bob Stoeckl’s leadership, vision spark successful projects over 22 years

Staff spotlight_Robert StoecklThere is no shortage of kind words to describe Robert “Bob” Stoeckl. “Smile,” “friend,” “pleasure,” and “happy” were simply a few among the hundreds lawyers and former coworkers wrote.

After 22 years, Stoeckl retired as The Missouri Bar’s project director in January but was retained as a consultant to help with the departmental transition through early March. On Friday, the bar’s Board of Governors will hold a special recognition for Stoeckl.

Stoeckl isn’t one for the spotlight, as many know. As someone who constantly sang praises of those around him, Stoeckl often stood off to the side or in the back of the room at Annual Meetings of The Missouri Bar, committee meetings, and Board of Governor meetings. But don’t let that fool you – Stoeckl’s leadership and vision helped pave the way for many successful events and projects.

If you have attended Annual Meeting or committee meetings or read the weekly ESQ. email within the last two decades, you have seen Stoeckl’s dedication to help lawyers even better serve their clients and communities.

“I have always enjoyed starting with an idea or objective, gathering the right pieces and/or people together, and moving the ingredients to create a positive result,” he said. “I am fascinated by the alchemy that happens when you mix a broad range of personalities, expertise, and talents together.”

When Stoeckl joined the bar in 2002, his position as project director didn’t exist. The bar sought someone who could manage a variety of programs, projects, and activities. Stoeckl was asked to work with members to develop a new structure and direction to increase interest in and attendance at Annual Meeting.

That working relationship resulted in some of Stoeckl’s favorite memories. He spoke fondly of the last Saturday of January, the usual date of the kick-off meeting for the Annual Meeting Planning Committee.

“I always said it is one of my favorite days of the year – that chance to gather the new year’s talented group that will transform the next ‘blank slate’ into the Annual Meeting,” he said. “Nerdy, I know, but true 22 times!”

Stoeckl oversaw numerous changes at Annual Meeting, including when the event – like many others – moved to a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Annual Meeting offers hybrid opportunities, allowing members to attend in person or virtually.

What was once a struggling event 22 years ago now attracts hundreds of lawyers each year. In 2023, more than 1,000 lawyers attended the in-person and virtual Annual Meeting, with over 90% of attendees stating they would return for a future Annual Meeting.

While planning Annual Meeting every year took up a substantial amount of time, Stoeckl also devoted a significant amount of energy working with his team to prepare the weekly ESQ. email, which in 2002 was a new idea to deliver news and informational resources to members. From summaries of court decisions and upcoming MoBarCLE programs to practice tips and member discounts and benefits, ESQ. became a fundamental project under Stoeckl’s guidance. Up until his retirement, Stoeckl served as editor for more than 1,000 issues of ESQ.

Along with Annual Meeting and ESQ., Stoeckl helped expand interest and engagement in Spring and Fall Committee Meetings. In 2023, more than 5,200 combined attendees participated in the virtual Spring Committee Meetings, while more than 4,500 combined attendees participated in virtual Fall Committee Meetings.

Among Stoeckl’s plethora of duties, he also developed and coordinated meetings for the Board of Governors, organized the outstate mid-year meeting, and worked with volunteer-led committees.

Bob with dogIt’s the people who ultimately created the enjoyment Stoeckl felt every time he walked through the doors at The Missouri Bar. From working with Missouri Bar staff and executive directors Keith Birkes, Sebrina Barrett, and Mischa Buford Epps to interacting with members who volunteered with the programs and projects he was involved with, Stoeckl said he thrived on building friendships and relationships.

“It was exhilarating to work with so many intelligent, talented members who I truly admired in route to accomplishing objectives,” he said. “Over my more than two decades with the bar, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a host of absolutely incredible lawyers and judges.”

Now retired, Stoeckl plans to pursue cycling, hiking, running, and weight training with his wife and kids in Colorado.

“And because I get bored quickly and enjoy working, I expect to pick one of my many interests and look for a new endeavor to fill the rest of my time,” he added.