Recipient of the honorary Doctor of Public Affairs
Speaker at the 10 a.m. ceremony on May 15, 2015
Tom Strong graduated with honors (Order of the Coif) from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Law in 1955, and practiced in Springfield from 1957, until his retirement in 2003. In 1976, he founded the law firm that is now Strong-Garner-Bauer, P.C. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and all state and federal courts in Missouri. Tom has served as president of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, the Missouri Board of Law Examiners, and the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association. He has been a Governor of the American Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission and has served as chairman and committee member of many Missouri Bar Association committees.
In 2006, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys decided to present an annual award to a Missouri trial lawyer who best exemplifies what a trial lawyer should be, a person of courage, with unimpeachable ethics, a sterling character and an outstanding record in the courtroom. After considering the many talented, principled lawyers in Missouri's long history, Tom was selected as the lawyer for whom the award would be named. Tom once obtained the largest personal injury verdict in the history of the State, represented Missouri in its litigation against the tobacco industry that will bring an estimated $6.7 billion into the State’s coffers, and on only two occasions failed to obtain a recovery for a personal injury or wrongful death client, either by verdict or settlement. Just as important, Tom had set the bar for courage, ethics, character and professionalism. The "Thomas G. Strong Trial Attorney Award" was presented to its first recipient at the organization's annual meeting in 2007.
Tom has taught in more than 100 legal seminars in several states and has authored more than a dozen articles and chapters for legal publications in addition to his autobiography, Strong Advocate: The Life of a Trial Lawyer, now in its second printing. The book was nominated for the Missouri Conference on History Annual book award, was listed as one of "Our 50 Favorite Books of 2012" by the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper, and was featured on the cover of The Missouri Trial Attorney magazine and on the front page of the Springfield News-Leader newspaper.
Tom is an emeritus member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an exclusive organization consisting of 100 of the leading trial lawyers in the nation, The American Trial Lawyers Association, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, The American Board of Trial Advocates and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He received “The Order of Barristers" award from the University of Missouri (presented to attorneys exhibiting excellence in the art of courtroom advocacy) and the W. Oliver Rasch Award by the Journal of The Missouri Bar for the best article appearing in its Journal during 1991. He has been listed in Who’s Who in American Law and in all editions of The Best Lawyers in America.
Tom received the Bronze Bear Award from Missouri State University in 2006, given to those who have exhibited “extraordinary achievement and/or outstanding support” for the university. Previously, in 1987, he had received the school’s “Outstanding Alumnus Award.” He has served as president of the alumni association (1965-1966), cofounder and charter member of the basketball booster club (1969) and its president in 1974, a member of the university’s Board of Governors and as its president in 1998, and president of the Missouri State University Foundation. He was active for several years in the school’s efforts in the Missouri legislature to obtain the present name of the university, finally won in 2005. He has supported the institution financially, establishing two endowed chairs and several scholarships and has served as co-chair of its first two comprehensive fundraising campaigns. In 2002, Strong Hall was named in honor of his family.
In 2014, Tom received the Giants of the Community Award, given “to recognize individuals that are involved in the community, give of their time, and contribute in many ways without public recognition, and the Missourian Award, given to those who have “made an outstanding contribution to their state or nation in one of the following fields of endeavor: civics, business, arts or politics.” Other recipients of this award include Thomas Hart Benton, General Omar Bradley, Governor Mel Carnahan, George Washington Carver, Walter Cronkite, Walt Disney, Stuart Symington, and President Harry Truman.