Three lawyers honored with Roger P. Krumm Family Law Award
Three Missouri lawyers were recognized for their outstanding legal achievements in family law during the 2022 annual Family Law Conference Aug. 5.
Karen DeLuccie, 2022 winner
“Strength,” Joe O’Hara said. “There’s nothing stronger than love.”
Love and strength were qualities that Karen DeLuccie had in abundance, according to the many who knew her. The family law lawyer from Independence was known for her wit, intelligence, and trailblazing legal career.
Although she passed away in April this year from an aggressive form of cancer, the 2022 winner of the Roger P. Krumm Family Law Award is not soon to be forgotten.
“She loved her work and she never shied away from the hardest part of her work,” said O’Hara, DeLuccie’s husband of 28 years.
Each year, the Family Law Section and The Missouri Bar present an award at the Family Law Conference to honor a Missouri lawyer who has demonstrated excellence in their profession. Recipients of this award demonstrate integrity, commitment, skill, and dedication towards the practice of family law and the children and families involved in family law matters.
Described as a civic leader, DeLuccie graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1982 during a time when women practicing law were still a rarity.
Trained as both a mediator and guardian ad litem, DeLuccie began her career at Paden, Welch, Martin, and Albano, after which she and her husband opened DeLuccie & O’Hara Law Office, LLC. She practiced family law on Independence Square for nearly 40 years until the end of her career, and her legal achievements continue to positively affect families across Missouri.
Perhaps DeLuccie’s greatest legal achievement was assisting in authoring and passing the law that created Missouri’s Family Courts. The courts were established following the signing of HB346 in 1993, which outlined the court's jurisdiction over legal separations, divorces, child custody, adoptions, juvenile proceedings, adult abuse, and changes of name or titles.
Signed into law by Gov. Mel Carnahan, DeLuccie’s work on HB346 transformed the court system for families making divorce, paternity, and custody cases more efficient and less stressful.
“Somehow, for a woman whose family never knew divorce, she became one of the foremost domestic law practitioners Missouri has ever known,” O’Hara said. “It’s a testament to the love she received and the love she gave every day.”
The Missouri Bar hasn’t hosted the Family Law Conference since August 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To properly congratulate the lawyers receiving the award, winners from 2020, 2021, and 2022 were announced and given a commemorative plaque.
Rebecca Leonard, 2021 winner
A lawyer and registered pharmacist who has dedicated her professional career to helping clients, Rebecca Leonard has been negotiating and settling family law matters for more than 20 years.
Leonard specializes in litigating division of assets, spousal support, custody matters, parenting plans, child support determination, paternity matters, retirement account divisions, and enforcement of child support and custody matters.
“When I look at who else has received this award, it’s truly an honor to be considered part of that group,” Leonard said.
Since graduating from University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law in 1994, Leonard has practiced family law exclusively.
“It’s a way to give back,” she said. “You can impact someone’s life when they’re going through a very difficult time, and the simple act of giving them facts and information can give people a lot of relief.”
Leonard is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was president of the Missouri chapter from 2014 until 2016. She is a member of The Missouri Bar's Family Law Section, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Eastern Jackson County Bar Association. She served as a member of Division One Missouri Supreme Court Disciplinary Committee for Region IV for over 10 years and is a frequent speaker on family law matters.
James Young, 2020 winner
A “tremendous mentor, friend, and perpetual professional” is how law firm partner Abraham Kuhl described the 2020 winner of the Roger P. Krumm Family Law Award.
Although he couldn’t attend the Family Law Conference in person, James Young has practiced family law for 30 years. He founded the Law Office of Young, Kuhl and Frick, LLC and serves as a special master for discovery and other financial issues, in addition to handling complex property and custody family law cases.
Young is involved in a myriad of legal organizations and has dedicated his career to helping families and bettering family law at both the local and state levels.
Kuhl collected the award as a stand-in and emphasized how Young has served as a model professional for not only him, but many in the legal community.
“One thing that I’ve always found very impressive about Jim is seeing his interactions with everyone,” Kuhl said. “He treats everyone with dignity and respect, and as brilliant as he is, his kindness is unmatched.”
A dedicated family and divorce attorney in Kansas City, Young is also a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, as well as the former president of the Missouri Chapter of that national organization.
He is active in several multiple-county and statewide committees and has been a frequent speaker at seminars, including discussing child support methodology and joint physical custody situations.
“Jim’s had a tremendous influence on so many people. I know I’m not the only one proud to say I’ve had the pleasure of working with him,” Kuhl said.
Visit MoBarCLE.org to sign up for upcoming conferences, including The Missouri Bar Annual Meeting and Missouri Judicial Conference Sept. 14-16 and the Estate, Trust, & Elder Law Institute Oct. 20-21.