Mischa Buford Epps begins role of Missouri Bar executive director
Wednesday, April 1, marked the start date for The Missouri Bar’s new executive director, Mischa Buford Epps. After an extensive search, The Missouri Bar Board of Governors unanimously approved Epps for the role in early March. A former partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP and with an extensive background in public service, she becomes the state bar’s fifth executive director in its 76-year history. Kent Hopper, who served as interim executive director during the transition, will continue as associate executive director.
“These are not the easiest times in which to assume a new position,” said Tom Bender, 2019-20 Missouri Bar president. “As you not only have to learn the way we operate but also do so in unprecedented, challenging times. We fortunately have been well served in the interim by Kent Hopper, and all the wonderful directors and staff at The Missouri Bar. Mischa has been learning from them during this transition (and on her own time) to be ready to hit the ground running. I am confident she is the right person to not only help us address the immediate needs of our members and citizens, but also to keep an eye on our long-term goals. We are going to come out of this crisis soon and will be even better suited to address future problems through our lessons learned.”
As executive director, Epps oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization and implements policies adopted by the Board of Governors, which is the bar’s representative body of all licensed Missouri lawyers.
“Together, we will navigate the challenges presented by our unprecedented times and come out better and stronger for it,” Epps said. "I'm honored, and I'm grateful to the board for the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization," Epps said. "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."
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.
"Mischa has a history of being successful both as an attorney and in leadership areas which align with our organization’s strategic goals,” added Bender. “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.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and under the direction of Hopper, Missouri Bar staff, including Epps, are serving lawyers and the public remotely. The effort is just one way the bar is protecting the safety and well-being of members and employees while helping lawyers continue to serve their clients and communities.
Learn more about Epps here.