Matthew J. Padberg Receives Lawyers Association Award of Honor
May 22, 2017 Firm News
Padberg Appelbaum Knepper is proud to congratulate principal and partner, Matthew J. Padberg, on receiving the 2017 Award of Honor from The Lawyers Association of St. Louis. The Award of Honor is presented each Spring to one outstanding trial attorney who is nominated and voted on by a committee of peers, judges and law school deans.
On Saturday, April 22, 2017, at the Marriot St. Louis Grand Hotel, Matt was joined by 300 of his closest friends, family and colleagues, for an evening to honor his service to the legal profession and the St. Louis community. The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception followed by dinner and a comedic roast. Speakers included The Honorable Philip M. Hess; Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C Principal Peter J. Dunne; and St. Louis University School of Law Professor Thomas L. Stewart. Also speaking was the host of the evening, Kenneth K. Vuylsteke, President of The Lawyers Association of St. Louis.
While the stories and laughs shared during the ceremony ranged from law school shenanigans and cases tried, to family and first encounters, there was a common thread over the course of the evening as to why Matt was so deserving of the Award. In their own way, each person reminisced not only on Matt’s successes in the courtroom, but also his desire to better the lives of other people.
Matt’s first endeavor was right out of law school in 1983, when he established a free legal clinic for underprivileged residents in North St. Louis City. Several years later, the Guardian Angel Settlement Association provided Matt a space to open a second legal clinic in the south side of St. Louis. For 10 years Matt ran these two clinics where he would meet with clients on a weekly basis to provide counsel, prepare wills and engage in litigation; all pro bono.
In addition to donating his time, Matt has been fortunate enough to establish multiple scholarships and charitable funds. Upon the death of Matt’s father, Godfrey Padberg, in 2002, Matt and his family established the Godfrey P. Padberg Fellowship in his honor. The Fellowship funds a full-time attorney to provide legal services for those who can’t afford representation on issues, including domestic violence, immigration, housing, and more. Matt and his wife, Celeste, have also established a charity called The Net, which helps people who have suffered a misfortune, such as a house fire or loss of a job, by providing daily necessities, baby furniture, food, clothing and cash. Additionally, the Padberg Appelbaum Knepper Law Firm awards a $10,000 scholarship each year to the son or daughter of a Local 396 member to aid in furthering his or her education. Since its inception in 2003, a total of $150,000 in scholarships have been awarded through the Godfrey P. Padberg Ironworkers Scholarship.
Matt has also played a role in cultivating the next generation of legal talent in St. Louis. He regularly lectures on topics in civil litigation, trial, and personal injury litigation, and has been an adjunct professor of law at the St. Louis University School of Law since 2003. Matt is known throughout the legal community for helping young lawyers get on their feet by providing rent-free space and mentorship to promising young attorneys.
Matt’s generosity and leadership continues in the office, where he strives to provide a positive work environment for our attorneys and support staff (some of whom have worked alongside Matt since he entered the private practice in 1984!). Here is what a few members of our team say about Matt:
“To know Matt Padberg is to know a true gentleman; a person who cares deeply for the law and for the community; a person who understands how blessed he has been but never forgets the suffering of others; a person who uses his many talents for the benefit of the people around him and for the benefit of the world. He is truly the most even-tempered, professional, respectful, humble, compassionate, knowledgeable and talented lawyer I have ever known.” – Michael Corrigan, Principal and Partner
“Trying a case takes a lot of hard work, long hours and intense preparation. Matt does this effortlessly. I have tried several cases with him over the past five years and he has truly changed the way I approach trials. I still work hard and prepare, but I am no longer as afraid of the result as I used to be. Matt has taught me that we are here to give everything we have for our client, but the one thing we cannot control is what those 12 people do. And, win or lose, we just keep fighting the fight.” – Theresa Appelbaum, Principal and Partner
“What we do is difficult. Matt has changed the way I see this profession and taught me to take pleasure in practicing law. He sets the tone of this office by greeting everyone with a smile. He is the boss, but he is genuinely interested in each of us and our families. He brings the same calm, caring disposition into each of his cases. He interacts with clients, judges and opposing counsel with respect and kindness. I have not seen his demeanor swayed by the ups and downs of practicing law. Matt demonstrates by example how to enjoy this job. His success isn’t just a result of him being nice to be around. It comes with hard work – arriving early and leaving late. Matt is hands-on with all of his cases, choosing to grind out motions and argue at hearings instead of delegating to the rest of us. He makes our profession better.” – Nicole Burlison Knepper, Associate Attorney
“I have worked closely with Matt for over 15 years and if I had to define him with one word it would have to be, integrity. His moral compass does not waiver. Though he has many accomplishments I believe he sees his greatest accomplishments as the relationships he has developed with others. He loves people and life, and they love him right back. I have witnessed Matt in the presence of people from all walks of life, and Matt treats each person with the same respect and dignity. I feel honored to call him a colleague and coworker, and mostly I feel extremely blessed to call him my friend.” – Kelly Casey, Legal Nurse
“Over the 32 years I have worked with Matt, I have personally witnessed him grow from an ambitious college graduate into the attorney, family man and friend he is today. Matt’s fun-loving personality continues to be one of his best traits, and I admire the time and effort he has put into each and every one of his clients’ cases along the way.” – Gina Lancaster, Legal Assistant to Matthew Padberg and Nicole Burlison Knepper
“I have come to know Matt as an exceptional attorney and a generous person. Not only is he polished and professional in the courtroom, but he is also very funny and cooks the most amazing beef tenderloin for our firm outings. This dedication and all-around good nature is what makes Matt so deserving of the Award of Honor. Cheers to Matt (with a Kettle One vodka drink)!” – Tiffany Hasson, Legal Assistant to Michael Corrigan and Theresa Appelbaum
“Matt pushes you to meet your full potential, and does so in a manner that actually inspires you to want to put in that extra effort for the overall success of the team. I’ve never before worked for someone who showed such sincere interest and compassion for the lives of his employees. It makes working at the law firm a fun and rewarding experience.” – Lindi Niedner Schaeffer, Marketing Director
In short, The Lawyers Association of St. Louis could not find a better candidate than Matt for its most prestigious award. He exemplifies everything the Award of Honor embodies, and our firm congratulates him on this well-earned achievement!
Please visit the Padberg Appelbaum Knepper Facebook Page to view photos from the Award of Honor dinner: https://www.facebook.com/padbergcorriganappelbaum.