Three lawyer-legislators selected for 2020 Missouri Bar Legislative Awards
This week 200 years ago, the Missouri General Assembly convened for the first time. Considering this important anniversary, The Missouri Bar announces it has selected Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield; Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis; and Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton; as the 2020 recipients of The Missouri Bar Legislative Awards.
The state bar presents Legislative Awards to recognize Missouri lawmakers who have made significant contributions to legislation affecting the administration of justice and the integrity of the judiciary. Tom Bender, 2019-20 president of The Missouri Bar, said the three recipients are lawyer-legislators who will be departing their seats at the end of the year as a result of term limits. Bender said they have each filled key leadership and legislative roles in their respective chambers.
Speaker Elijah Haahr served as the 2019-20 Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and was previously Speaker Pro Tempore. When elected as the chamber’s leader at age 36, he was the youngest speaker in the country. Haahr represents south central Springfield and was first elected in 2012. He has served four terms, totaling eight years, in the Missouri House. He is a lawyer with Kutak Rock, where he focuses his practice on civil litigation.
“As a leader in his community, his profession, the legislature, and nationally on a number of issues, Speaker Haahr is demonstrating how lawyers make a difference through public service,” said Bender. “His contributions to his profession and the public—now and in the future—are greatly appreciated.”
Haahr grew up in southwest Missouri. He attended Ozarks Technical Community College and Missouri Western State University. After, he attended the University of Missouri School of Law on an academic scholarship and graduated with honors in 2008. At MU, he served as editor-in-chief of the Environmental Law Review and represented MU at the regional level in mock trial and moot court competitions. In 2007, he served as the national student representative for the ABA’s Appellate Advocacy competition. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Order of Barristers as one of the top ten oral advocates in his graduating class. He served as vice president of the Phi Alpha Delta Legal Society and was a member of the inaugural class of the Elwood L. Thomas Inn of Courts.
Haahr is active in his local community. He has served as president of the Springfield Jaycees, is an active member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and has been recognized as 417 Magazine’s 20 under 30 and Springfield Business Journal’s 40 under 40, among other awards. He and his family have volunteered with a variety of organizations including CASA, Springfield Victory Mission for the Homeless, and the Adopt a Street Program.
Rep. Gina Mitten Mitten represents portions of St. Louis City and St. Louis County. First elected in 2012, she has served four terms, totaling eight years, in the Missouri House. During her tenure, she has served as assistant minority floor leader, minority caucus chair, minority caucus vice chair, vice chair of the House Ethics Committee, and ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee. In addition to her legislative duties, Mitten is a lawyer, focusing her practice on civil litigation and domestic relations.
“In the Judiciary Committee, on the floor, and during her time in legislative leadership, Rep. Mitten has repeatedly put her professional training and experience to work, digging deep into the details and asking tough questions at the right time, from a lawyer’s perspective,” said Bender.
Mitten graduated summa cum laude from University of Missouri-St. Louis and is a 2001 recipient of the American Mock Trial Association’s National All-American Attorney award. In 2005, Mitten received her JD from Washington University School of Law, where she was a primary editor of the Journal of Law and Policy and recipient of the Don Sommers Prize for Professional Responsibility.
Before election to the state legislature, Mitten served on the Richmond Heights City Council from 2004-2012. She also served on the St. Louis County Municipal League’s legislative affairs committee and was a voting member of the Clayton/Richmond Heights joint study committee.
Sen. Scott Sifton Sifton represents part of St. Louis County. First elected to the Senate in 2012, he has served two terms, totaling eight years. He was elected in 2010 to the House and served one term. Sifton is a lawyer at OnderLaw, where he focuses his practice on product liability cases.
“Throughout his legislative service, Senator Sifton has displayed the many roles that characterize our profession—advocate, negotiator, mediator, advisor,” said Bender. “His colleagues respect his knowledge of the law, a knowledge which he has used to improve the law.”
Sifton has served on the Affton Board of Education, the board of the American Lung Association Missouri chapter, and as vice chair of The Missouri Bar Legislative Committee in 2004. His other involvement includes the Affton Chamber of Commerce, Affton Community Betterment Association, and the Lemay Chamber of Commerce. Sifton was also a member of the 2005-06 FOCUS Leadership St. Louis Class.
Sifton graduated cum laude from Truman State University in 1996 and earned his JD from the University of Michigan Law School in 1999.
Each year, The Missouri Bar recognizes individuals who have helped improve the state's justice system. For more information on The Missouri Bar’s annual awards click here.