Jefferson City,
19:06 PM

Mischa Buford Epps approved as executive director of The Missouri Bar

Epps looks forward to building on ways to continue helping lawyers even better serve their clients

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Bar, a statewide organization of all licensed Missouri lawyers, announced today that its Board of Governors has unanimously approved Mischa Buford Epps as the state bar’s next executive director. She will be the state bar’s fifth executive director in its 76-year history and succeeds Sebrina Barrett who resigned last year to relocate with her family to New York.

"After a comprehensive search process, the board is pleased to have found the best individual to lead our bar," said Tom Bender, 2019-20 president of The Missouri Bar. "Mischa has a history of being successful both as an attorney and in leadership areas which align with our organization’s strategic goals. Her strong track record, her ability to build relationships and her diverse knowledge of the profession makes her uniquely qualified to continue building on our commitment to help lawyers even better serve their clients and communities. We are thrilled to have her join our great team at the bar.”

The election of Epps caps a search process which began in November. The applicant pool was narrowed in stages by a search committee, which was composed of a diverse makeup of members of The Missouri Bar including geography, practice area, practice setting, gender, race and ethnicity. The search committee provided its selection recommendations to the executive committee which then made its final recommendation to the board.

In her new role which starts April 1, Epps will oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization and implement policies adopted by the Board of Governors, which is the bar’s representative body of all licensed Missouri lawyers. The organization has 45 employees at its Jefferson City headquarters.

"I'm honored, and I'm grateful to the board for the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization," said Epps. "The bar provides relevant and meaningful services every day to improve the profession, the law and the lives of Missouri citizens. I’m excited to help lead those efforts."

Mischa Buford Epps meets with Missouri Bar staff Friday, March 6, as Tom Bender, 2019-20 Missouri Bar President Tom Bender, watches.Epps is a former partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP in Kansas City, where she practiced for more than 20 years representing privately held businesses and public corporations in corporate transactions and counseling nonprofit clients on operations, tax and corporate governance issues. While there, she was a founding member and past chair of the firm’s diversity committee and provided leadership in several bar organizations including the Jackson County Bar Association and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

Epps also has a long history of volunteering for community and service groups, including as legal counsel to a police board and serving on the board of Legal Aid of Western Missouri. She has been recognized for her service many times, including the Missouri Lawyers Media Mentor of the Year Award and Women's Justice Award, the Jackson County Bar Association’s Judge Lewis W. Clymer Award, and the William G. Zimmerman Pro Bono Award.

Epps earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and her JD from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

Epps lives in Columbia with her husband Hon. Willie J. Epps, Jr., and their young daughter.

The Missouri Bar is a statewide organization that is dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law and the administration of justice for all Missourians. Created in 1944 by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri, it serves all 30,000 of Missouri’s practicing lawyers. To achieve its mission, The Missouri Bar provides a wide range of services and resources to its members, as well as the media, educators and the citizens of Missouri. To learn more, visit

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