At Mickes O’Toole, we recognize the importance of education to our community and society as a whole. We are proud of the role our attorneys play in assisting our almost 250 Missouri and Illinois educational clients in providing a quality education to their students and supporting their communities. In 2018, our Firm was once again recognized by our peers and clients as a top Education Group in Missouri. Over the last two years, we have provided general counsel advice to almost 250 educational clients, serving more than 285,000 students and employing over 27,500 certificated staff members. Our attorneys represented educational institutions in more than 80 litigation cases in over 20 different federal and state courts in Missouri and Illinois. In addition, we helped our clients navigate more than 70 charges of discrimination and over 20 due process hearings. Our Firm provided advice on more than 40 real estate and construction projects and served as underwriters counsel on almost 200 separate bonds with a combined value in excess of $600 million.
As we start off the New Year and continue our Firm’s growth, we would like to highlight some new and exciting changes within our Education Group.
It is with great personal and professional pleasure that we announce Natalie Hoernschemeyer has been appointed as the Chair of the Education Group effective January 1, 2019. Natalie has practiced with the Firm for almost 20 years, offering trusted advice as general counsel to hundreds of superintendents and Board members. She has been recognized by her peers for success and professional achievement in Education Law as a “Superlawyer” — a distinction only 5% of lawyers nationwide receive within an area of law and a designation shared by less than 10 other Education lawyers in Missouri. As a lead litigator, she has handled hundreds of lawsuits, often on the cutting edge of school law from early litigation under the revised MHRA to the beginnings of cyberbullying liability to the current debate around transgender student rights. Building off lessons learned in the courtroom, Natalie is a skilled trainer and presenter for all categories of school administrators, teachers, and staff. This year alone, Natalie created and presented half-day trainings to more than 200 Title IX coordinators throughout the state.
Over the past two decades, Natalie has been an integral part of the tremendous growth of our Education Group and our Firm. We look forward to seeing where Natalie leads the Education Group in her new role, as we build on our current success and strive to better serve each of our clients.
We are also very pleased to announce that the Firm recently recognized another long-time member of our Education Group by making Wendy Boggiano a Partner in the Firm. Wendy serves as general counsel to numerous school district clients, advising them daily on education matters ranging from compliance with anti-discrimination laws to implementing personnel improvement plans to deciding student discipline matters to investigating employee misconduct. Additionally, Wendy is an experienced litigator at the administrative, state, and federal levels, both in trial and on appeal. Recently, Wendy was one of the lead attorneys on our trial team in a special education lawsuit where we were successful in obtaining summary judgment for our client and having that decision affirmed on appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Wendy is a frequent presenter on Education topics and, for the last several years, she has received peer recognition as a “Rising Star” for professional achievement in Education Law.
As our Firm continues to evolve and expand, we consistently look to the outside to identify the best and brightest talent. On January 14, 2019, Joshua Douglass joined our Firm as a Partner in our Education Group. Most recently, Josh served as Chief Attorney and Interim Head of the United States Office of Civil Rights, Region VII in Kansas City. Prior to leading Region VII of the OCR, Josh was the Interim Chief Legal Counsel at the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District. Josh has also served as an Administrative Law Judge for due process hearings for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In addition to his extensive experience in special education, Josh has a comprehensive background in Education law and has years of experience providing general counsel advice and leading litigation efforts on behalf of school districts and other educational clients.
Finally, Patrick Brazill started with the Firm as an Associate in December 2018, having practiced for several years as a civil litigator in both state and federal courts throughout Missouri. Patrick is the 6th new attorney added to our team since the start of 2018. His hire reflects the continued growth and development of our Firm, with Mickes O’Toole increasing from 12 to 20 attorneys over the last three years.
In our Education Group, each attorney is dedicated to providing our public school clients with practical, results-oriented advice grounded in a thorough understanding of the school environment. By working with you to identify and resolve your legal issues, we strive to allow you to concentrate on your mission — service to your District and the education of your students. We are truly honored to be a part of your team and we look forward to another successful year of valued partnerships and superior results.