Alumnus Recognized as a Legal Rising Star

Justin Arnold testifies in front of a senate committee at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Justin Arnold ’12 of Columbia, MO, received the Missouri Lawyers Media 2018 In-House Counsel Rising Star award on Nov. 8 at the St. Louis Club in Clayton, MO. Missouri Lawyers Media recognizes a variety of attorneys who handle both high-stakes litigation and difficult contracts.

The Farmington, MO, native serves as in-house attorney with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missouri’s largest business association. Located in Jefferson City, MO, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry focuses on statewide business growth and development — areas of special interest to Arnold.

“I’m proud that a kid from a small rural town in southeast Missouri can work hard, get into good schools, pass a couple of bar exams, and try every day to make Missouri friendlier for businesses, so that there will be more opportunities like the ones I have been fortunate to have all my life,” he says.

Arnold majored in Political Science and minored in English at Westminster. He graduated with a juris doctorate degree from St. Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, MO, in 2015.

Arnold was featured on Nov. 16 here in Missouri Lawyers Weekly. He recently discussed his love of the law, his 22-month-old daughter, and how three Westminster professors and two alums helped him find the power in his purpose.  

How did your Westminster education help you find your purpose? Without Westminster, there is no doubt I would not be where I am today. I was constantly challenged to pull more out of myself academically than I previously thought possible. I was also fortunate enough to serve in leadership roles that forced me to take responsibility for decisions and look at things from a much broader perspective. That has allowed me to hold important positions with a learned experience and navigate through legal, political, and corporate issues on a daily basis.

Based on your experience, would you recommend Westminster to prospective college students? Absolutely. I had three professors write me letters of recommendation for law school. The first was an English teacher (thank you, Dr. Tuthill) who challenged me to pull more out of myself as a writer and allowed me to do well in law school. The second was a Westminster alum who now sits as an appellate judge on the Western District Court of Appeals in Missouri and who, as a very inspirational professor, helped cement the idea that going to law school was what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. The third was another Westminster alum, is a former pro tem of the Missouri Senate, and was also a professor of mine at Westminster. That same professor also answered the call as a professional reference to help show an employer they could trust my work and that I would be a good fit for the job, six years after I last had him in class. Without Westminster, I would not have made it to law school and certainly would not be in the position I am today. Westminster opens doors that aren’t necessarily open elsewhere, and they stay open long after your graduation date.

What is your favorite Westminster memory? I would not trade being a part of the tennis team for anything. Westminster allowed me to continue competing in athletics after high school. That helped feed and fulfill my competitive nature, but it also gave me much more. I made lifelong friends that provided some of the best memories I have of Westminster. Being a part of a conference champion team and competing in the NCAA DIII tournament is a great memory, but there are so many more, even just a random funny moment after practice on a Tuesday that I won’t ever forget. 

Favorite Westminster faculty member? Dr. John Langton. Dr. John made every class an experience, and I have many memories of life lessons he would teach on a daily basis. To this day, the greatest compliment I’ve ever received came from Dr. John, when on a graded paper called me a “pragmatic idealist.” From my first seminar class, The Jury System on Trial, to my last class, Drugs and Politics, Dr. John showed me you can disagree on virtually everything and still maintain the utmost respect and admiration for someone.

Favorite spot on campus? The tennis courts, although I loved living in the Quad. Suite-style living makes the first year at Westminster a memorable one.

Are you involved in any organizations outside of work? I currently volunteer as a member of the Railroad Advisory Board for the City of Columbia, a volunteer commission chosen by the city council. I am also a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservative attorneys who meet and discuss issues relating to law and public policy. 

Spouse’s name? Kelsey Arnold.

Children’s names and ages? Nora Arnold, 22 months old, and has her dad wrapped around her finger.

A book you would recommend to others? Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal by Ben Sasse.

Favorite TV show? I re-watch episodes of The Office way too often.  

What do you do in your free time? I got into running during law school, and I’ll probably continue until my knees tell me to stop. But I try to read, write, play with my dogs, and spoil my daughter at every turn.  

Another Westminster alumnus, Robin Foster ’78 ΣΧ, also recently received the In-House Council Award from Missouri Lawyers Media. Watch for his profile in an upcoming issue of Westminster Today.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.