Young Missouri lawyers presented 2020 Lon O. Hocker Awards
The Missouri Bar Foundation each year presents Lon O. Hocker Awards to young Missouri lawyers who embody the qualities of a trial lawyer. Recipients are selected for recognition based on their professionalism, ethics, and demonstrated balance between zealousness and honor, strength and courtesy, and confidence and respect. The 2020 Lon O. Hocker Awards are being presented to Nathan Chapman, Audrey McCormick and Erika Wurst.
Chapman is currently the supervisor of the Persons Unit in the Greene County Prosecutor's Office, handling cases involving physical and sexual abuse against children, adult sexual abuse, domestic assaults and child pornography. He joined the office as a senior assistant in October 2012 after receiving his JD from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2008.
“As a courtroom advocate, I connect with juries and persuade them to discard preconceived biases,” said Chapman when asked about his driving passion for his work. “This allows me to seek justice for the most vulnerable victims in the community.”
McCormick is the trial team leader of the downtown Jackson County Prosecutor's Office Special Victim's Unit. McCormick earned her JD from UMKC School of Law in 2010 and began her professional career as an attorney for the Missouri Children’s Division. Since joining the prosecutor’s office in 2016, she has prosecuted child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and homicide cases.
“Over my career I have met many amazing, resilient children who have been the victims of unspeakable trauma,” said McCormick. “My most important work is earning a child's trust after they are brought into the criminal justice system. But each time, I know I have fought my hardest for that child and hope that they, and the community, are safer because of the work I have done.”
Erika Wurst was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas, but ultimately ended up in St. Louis for law school, by way of Minneapolis and Boston for her undergraduate degree and AmeriCorps. She said she worried she chose the wrong career path until her first week as an intern in the St. Louis City Public Defender's Office.
“My clients drive my passion for this work,” said Wurst. “My family made everything possible for me. Yet my clients, many of whom are more intelligent, optimistic, and hard-working than I am, have had to struggle for everything they have. There is nothing more humbling, or more motivating, than meeting a client whom society has left behind, whom the State is trying to put behind bars, and seeing a smile on their face, or hearing them express gratitude for what little I can do for them.”
This award is named for Lon O. Hocker, who was a practicing lawyer in St. Louis for more than 50 years. Hocker was also a leading trial lawyer in Missouri. To be eligible for this award, which carries a $750 stipend, recipients must be less than 40 years old. In addition, the winners are selected from three regions in the state – St. Louis, Kansas City and all other counties.