Columbia attorney to serve Missouri Bar as president

Friday, September 25, 2009 | 7:03 p.m. CDT; updated 11:12 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 25, 2009

COLUMBIA — Sometime tonight, outgoing Missouri Bar President Thomas Burke is expected to hand a gavel — and his job — to Columbia attorney Skip Walther at a Missouri Bar ceremony in St. Louis.

Problem is, Walther doesn’t know exactly when.

“Hopefully before the end of the MU-Nevada game,” said Walther, who graduated from MU’s School of Law in 1979.

Walther was elected Wednesday to become the president of the bar and its 29,000 members. State law requires all lawyers practicing in Missouri to belong to the bar.

Walther said the central purpose of the bar is “to promote a fair and impartial judiciary, and to promote the integrity of the bar and its members.”

Some of the bar’s other roles, he said, include assisting lawyers in need and reviewing legislation that affects the legal process. He identified his primary goal this year as combating a “partisan effort by special interests to control how judges are selected.”

Walther was admitted to the bar in 1979. He was a Boone County assistant prosecuting attorney from 1979 to 1982 before going into private practice.

Walther said he would continue his work in Columbia as a partner of the firm Walther, Antel, Stamper and Fischer, P.C., while serving as bar president. As part of his first duties, he said he expects to meet with various local and specialty bar associations around the state.

But first, he has to get that gavel.

Tonight's ceremony marks the closing of the bar’s four-day conference in St. Louis. The conference comes to Columbia next year.

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