Caldera, Schlapprizzi, and Wiegert recognized as 2023 exemplary trial lawyers
Jessica Caldera, Craig Schlapprizzi, and David Wiegert will be presented this year’s Lon O. Hocker Awards for their commendable work as trial lawyers.
The Missouri Bar Foundation awards the Lon O. Hocker Trial Lawyer Award to three trial lawyers under the age of 40 who demonstrate balance between zealousness and honor, strength and courtesy, confidence and respect, as well as other professional qualities. The lawyers are selected from three different regions: St.Louis, Kansas City, and all other counties. Established in 1954, the award is named after Lon O. Hocker, a lawyer who practiced in St. Louis for more than 50 years and was a well-respected trial lawyer. The awards will be presented Sept. 13, 2023, during The Missouri Bar Foundation & Public Service Awards Luncheon at the Annual Meeting of The Missouri Bar in Kansas City.
Caldera is a partner at Harper, Evans, Wade and Netemeyer in Columbia. She received her J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law and was admitted to The Missouri Bar in 2011. She then joined the Attorney General’s office as an assistant attorney general. Caldera also served as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Boone County prior to joining her currrent firm.
Caldera said that she loves the challenge and thrill of a trial, noting that although it can be difficult and exhausting, it is a critical part of the justice system.
“It's a privilege to stand up in court and tell a jury that I represent an individual client whose liberty is at stake or the citizens of my county and the public safety at large,” Caldera said. “I recognize that privilege each time I make an argument in court and strive to be as prepared and humble as possible throughout.”
Craig Schlapprizzi received his J.D. from Washington University School of Law and was admitted to The Missouri Bar in 2009. He works with his father and sister at their practice in St. Louis, where he focuses on personal injury cases and represents clients across the United States.
Schlapprizzi’s father, who he refers to as his hero, is a former recipient of the Lon O. Hocker Trial Lawyer Award, and Schlapprizzi says he is honored to now share this recognition with him.
Schlapprizzi’s suggests that new lawyers is to find a mentor either through personal connection or online resources, noting, “Even if you can't find a mentor you are able to see or interact with on a daily or weekly basis, there are so many resources now for aspiring trial lawyers - podcasts, books, recorded presentations, and trials being live-streamed.”
Wiegert has worked in the Missouri State Public Defender System since 2012, first in Caruthersville and currently in Kansas City. He completed his undergraduate studies at William Jewell College in 2008 and received his J.D. from Washington University School of Law in 2011. In addition, Wiegert also graduated from the National Criminal Defense College in 2018.
Wiegert says he is honored to receive this award and notes that he shares it with his colleagues and staff whose support is crucial to his work.
His advice to new lawyers is to “Know why you are fighting and fight hard with integrity and discernment. It takes a great deal of practice to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, so seek counsel from those whose judgment is more seasoned than your own.”
Click here to learn more about The Missouri Bar’s annual awards.