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Jul 19, 2022

Paul Venker Recognized with Missouri Lawyers Media 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Award

Baker Sterchi attorney Paul Venker (St. Louis) is a recipient of the Missouri Lawyers Media 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Award. The award recognizes attorneys, firms and organizations for efforts to advance diversity, inclusion and the dignity of all people in Missouri’s legal profession and in communities in which exceptional legal work impacts justice for all.

Venker is active in the legal community, currently serving as chairman of the Freedom Suits Steering Committee – a committee responsible for organizing the construction of a Freedom Suits Memorial in downtown St. Louis honoring courageous slave plaintiffs who sued for their freedom in the decades leading up to the war. After years of work to bring the memorial to fruition, an unveiling ceremony took place on the eastern plaza of the Civil Courts Building in June.  He is also a member of the Board of Directors and a past president of the St. Louis Bar Foundation.

“I am humbled to be one of the recipients of this award,” said Venker. “It is important in these challenging times that we all embrace the principles of diversity and inclusion.  I have tried to do my part to carry out diversity and inclusion efforts in the legal profession, but I would have to say my most significant contribution is in helping Judge David Mason on the Freedom Suits Memorial.” 

Venker went on to say, “In my role as chair for the Freedom Suits Memorial Steering Committee, I have worked hard to help make the memorial a reality because I believe it can have an impact on St. Louisans and visitors to our city and provide people a starting point for learning more about the plight of Blacks in America, not only in the decades leading up to the Civil War but also today. I hope those visiting the memorial will be aided on the arc of learning, understanding, respecting, and honoring, these courageous freedom suit litigants, and most notably the plaintiffs.”

Venker envisions the memorial will become an annual field trip experience for schools in St. Louis and beyond so that young Americans can be helped on that pathway.  He also said that a newly incorporated non-profit Freedom Suits Memorial Foundation, which will succeed the Freedom Suits Memorial Steering Committee, has been established with the mission of developing a web based Virtual Learning Center to provide a wide range of information about the freedom suits and the struggles and successes of Blacks in America throughout history. 

Venker’s practice has always focused on trials and appeals. He has taken dozens of trials to verdict in a variety of cases ranging from employment discrimination and medical malpractice to product liability and other serious personal injury and general liability matters. He has been an active appellate lawyer since clerking at the Missouri Supreme Court.

Missouri Lawyers Media 2022 Diversity & Inclusion honorees will be recognized at a virtual awards event on August 17.