14:53 PM

Young Missouri lawyers to receive 2019 Lon O. Hocker Award


The Missouri Bar Foundation annually presents Lon O. Hocker Awards to young Missouri lawyers who exemplify the qualities of a trial lawyer.

The Missouri Bar Foundation annually presents Lon O. Hocker Awards to young Missouri lawyers who exemplify the qualities of a trial lawyer. The recipients are chosen based on their professionalism, ethics, and demonstrated balance between zealousness and honor, strength and courtesy, and confidence and respect.Lon O. Hocker Awards in 2019 will be presented to Eric Playter, Jennifer Szczucinski and Stephanie Wan. 

Since 2013, Eric Playter and his brother have represented plaintiffs in personal injury and employment cases through their own firm, Playter Trial Lawyers. Playtersaid he is “unwilling to give in to injustice” and that his practice is dedicated to representing those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or who experience discrimination in their workplace.  

A trial lawyer's life is not the life for everyone,” Playter said. “But it is as rewarding and honorable one as I can conceive.  

Jennifer Szczucinski has dedicated her career to public service. After working with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, she was sworn in as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri as part of the Safer Streets Initiative, which is a state and federal partnership to combat violent crime in metropolitan Missouri. 

“Being a prosecutor means that I have the unique opportunity to seek justice, every day,” says Szczucinski.I would advise fellow members of the bar and new lawyers to follow their passion. If you do what you are passionate about, you are bound to be successful. 

Stephanie Wan is a first-generation American who has been with the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s office since 2007. In her career as a prosecutor, she has taken more than 50 cases to trial and resolved hundreds of additional cases, including sex abuse cases, child homicides, domestic assaults, and other crimes. In addition, she also supervises the General Crimes Unit and teaches at Missouri State University.  

I am really driven by being able to give a voice to victims, especially victims who are often traumatized and marginalized by the criminal justice system,”Wan said. She encourages new lawyers to “know what or who you are fighting for. If you are trying cases solely to win, then you are in it for the wrong reasons.” 

The award is named for Lon O. Hocker, who practiced in St. Louis for more than 50 years and was one of the leading trial lawyers in Missouri. Recipients must be less than 40 years old and are selected from three regions in the state – St. Louis, Kansas City and all other counties. The award carries a $750 stipend. Playter, Szczucinski and Wan will receive the award during the 2019 Missouri Bar Foundation & Public Service Awards Luncheon at the Annual Meeting of The Missouri Bar in Branson.