2014 Distinguished Law Alumni Awards

The Distinguished Law Alumni Awards honor alumni who have obtained distinction in their professional or academic careers. Those honored share the same characteristics of leadership, progressive thinking, high standards, uncompromising integrity, commitment, courage, and confidence. Their careers serve as models for Washington University law students and alumni.

  • C. Donald Ainsworth, JD '48

    2014 Distinguished Alumnus 
    C. Donald Ainsworth, JD ’48
    Former Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Vice President of Government Affairs, Safety National Casualty Corporation

    In 1999, C. Donald Ainsworth retired from the Safety National  Casualty Corporation, where he’d served as executive vice  president, chief operating officer, and vice president of government affairs. He continued to serve as a member of the board and consultant to the corporation until 2011.

    Mr. Ainsworth was born in Mason City, Illinois, and after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the University of Illinois, he became an FBI Agent. He left the FBI in 1944 to enlist in the U.S. Navy and served as a cryptographer in Hawaii and Guam. While at the University of Illinois, he met and later married Carolyn Smith, the mother of his two children, Maryan and Chuck. Carolyn passed away in 1983.

    After World War II, Mr. Ainsworth attended Washington University School of Law where he was elected student body president and served as chairman of the Ethics Committee. He received his JD in 1948.

    Mr. Ainsworth spent his career working in property and casualty insurance. After graduating from law school, he was employed by Insurers Service Corporation. In 1955, he founded his own agency, Ainsworth Insurance Service, which merged with Alexander & Alexander in 1974. He served as managing vice president of A&A’s St. Louis office and retired from A&A in 1980. The following year, Governor Kit Bond appointed him director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, where he served almost five years before joining Safety National Casualty Corporation.

    Mr. Ainsworth was a longtime resident of Kirkwood, Missouri, but has lived in Chesterfield since 1973. While in Kirkwood, he served on the City Council, was president of the Chamber of Commerce, was chairman of the Project 100 Committee during the Kirkwood Centennial Celebration, was chairman of the R-7 School Board Special Citizen’s Committee, and was a member of the Kirkwood YMCA Board of Directors.

    He was also an active member of the St. Louis and Missouri Bar Associations’ Insurance Committees for many years. He is a past president of the St. Louis County Library Board and a member of the Society of Former FBI Agents, the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters, Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, and Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity. He is a 32nd Degree Mason, and a Shriner, Moolah Temple.

    In 1984, he married Marilyn Mueller, whose husband, Wlilbert, passed away in 1983. Marilyn and Wilbert are the parents of one child, their son, Mark.

  • Hon. Sharon Johnson Coleman, JD '84

    2014 Distinguished Alumna
    Hon. Sharon Johnson Coleman, JD ’84
    U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

    Sharon Johnson Coleman was nominated to the federal judiciary by President Barack Obama and joined the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2010.

    Judge Coleman began her career in the public sector as an assistant state’s attorney and argued her first case before the Illinois Supreme Court at age 25. She has argued 15 cases before the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Judge Coleman was an assistant U.S. attorney for five years, then returned to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office as a deputy state’s attorney, where she supervised 100 attorneys and support staff. She was also the bureau chief for the Public Interest Bureau, where she oversaw six divisions including an Elder Abuse Division, which she created.

    From 1996 until 2008,Judge Coleman served as a circuit court judge in Cook County presiding over complex civil jury trials for more than 10 years, with an initial assignment in the Child Protection Division. She went on to become a justice on the Illinois Appellate Court, First District for two years. Judge Coleman also served on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instructions and taught judicial ethics to incoming state judges for nearly a decade. Throughout her career,Judge Coleman has frequently lectured at judicial education seminars and law schools on various topics.

    In 1984,Judge Coleman received her JD from Washington University School of Law, where she was a staff writer for the Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law and vice president of the Black Law Students Association.

    Judge Coleman is an active member in many legal community organizations, including the American Bar Association, the Black Women Lawyers’ Association, the Chicago Bar Association (Board of Managers), the Cook County Bar Association, the Illinois Judicial Council, and the Federal Judges Association. Outside of the legal community, Judge Coleman is a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and a member of the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Esther Rothstein Award, the C.F. Su·adford Award, and the Trinity Trailblazer Award.

    Judge Coleman has been married to Wheeler Coleman for 30 years. They are the proud parents of James, Kara, and a Shih Tzu named Kirby Puckett.

  • Mark Davis, JD '74

    2014 Distinguished Alumnus 
    Mark Davis, JD ’74
    Partner, Davis Levin Livingston

    Mark S. Davis is a partner in the law firm of Davis Levin Livingston in Honolulu, Hawaii. In recent years, Mr. Davis and his firm have represented plaintiffs in personal injury cases, especially medical malpractice claims against private institutions and military facilities. Mr. Davis has served as lead counsel in numerous civil rights and class action matters throughout the country and has been recognized as preeminent in his practice by his fellow attorneys in both the plaintiffs and defense bar. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America and was selected by Honolulu Magazine as a “Lawyer of the Year” in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

    Mr. Davis was elected a fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is also a member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and International Society of Barristers, all four of which are peer-selected legal organizations. He is one of only 100 lawyers in America and is the only practicing lawyer in Hawaii who is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, a group for which he is the immediate past president. He is also past president of the Consumer Lawyers of Hawaii and a 20-year member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America Board of Governors. In recent years, he has lectured and written on the subject of trial advocacy, and for the past 12 years, he has taught at the University of Hawaii Law School. He is a member of the Washington University School of Law National Council.

    Mr. Davis graduated from Washington University School of Law in 1974. While there, he worked part time on civil rights litigation with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. In 1973, he received a grant from the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council that took him to Honolulu to work on civil rights cases with the ACLU of Hawaii. He returned to Honolulu after graduating.

    Mr. Davis also met his wife, Jane Cassell, AB ’73, at Washington University, where she was a graduate student in social work at the Brown School. Their first date was at the 1972 dedication ceremony of Mudd Hall led by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

  • Bradley Winters, JD '81

    2014 Distinguished Alumnus 
    Bradley Winters, JD ’81
    Founding Member, Sher Corwin Winters LLC

    Bradley A. Winters, a founding member of Sher Corwin Winters LLC has been a litigator in St. Louis for almost 33 years. He has tried and won cases in areas from personal injury to patent infringement for companies such as Monsanto, the Union Pacific Railroad, Southwestern Bell, and THF Realty. He also has a growing practice as a successful mediator.

    Mr. Winters began his career in 1981 at Coburn, Croft and Putzell and then Thompson Coburn. In 2000, he joined Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (now Dentons), and for many years, he served on the firm’s Finance Committee and on the firm’s worldwide Diversity Committee. Mr. Winters started the firm’s 1L Training Program, which offered Washington University students from diverse backgrounds a weeklong law school primer to prepare them for their 1L year. He also started the CLE Seminar for In-House Counsel in 2004, which began with 23 St. Louis-based attendees and now provides continuing legal education to nearly 600 in-house counsel around the country every year and has trained thousands since its inception.

    As a sought-after speaker on trial practice and legal ethics, Mr. Winters has given speeches across the country to the American Bar Association, the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, and other organizations.

    Mr. Winters is a devoted Washington University School of Law alumnus. He and his wife Jill Winters, AB ’77, JD ’80, support the Becker 50th Scholarship, named for Professor David M. Becker, the Joseph H. Zumbalen Professor Emeritus of the Law of Property. In 2012, Mr. Winters was the Master of Ceremonies for Becker 50, a gala celebrating Professor Becker’s 50th year of teaching.

    Mr. Winters judges and guest coaches moot court and mock trial teams, participates in the mock interview training program, and lectures at Intersession, where he is the opening speaker every year. There, he talks to students about topics in his book, The 48 Secret Rules of Lawyering, a book of advice he wrote for, and for many years has given away free to, Washington University students.

    Mr. Winters graduated Order of Barristers from the Washington University School of Law in 1981, where he represented the law school in the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competitions and in five regional, national, and international rounds of the American Bar Association’s Mock Trials and Moot Court Competitions.

    Mr. and Mrs. Winters met in 1979 in Professor Neil Bernstein’s “Labor Law II” course. They live in Creve Coeur and have three sons and a daughter-in-law, all of whom live in St. Louis and one of whom (Doug) practices with Mr. Winters at Sher Corwin Winters LLC in Clayton.

2014 Distinguished Young Law Alumni Awards

The Distinguished Young Law Alumni Awards honor alumni who graduated from the School of Law within the past 25 years. The recipients exemplify achievement and commitment to the ideals embodied in a School of Law education.

  • Christopher Clinton Conway, JD '96

    2014 Distinguished Young Alumnus
    Christopher Clinton Conway, JD ’96

  • Jennifer Marler, JD '96

    2014 Distinguished Young Alumna
    Jennifer Marler, JD ’96
    Managing Panner, Demons-St Louis

    Jennifer A. Marler is the managing partner of the St. Louis office of Dentons. She previously served as practice leader for the firm’s global real estate practice. Ms. Marler represents lenders on Joan transactions involving significant projects across the country, with particular expertise in construction lending and projects that involve public incentives. She also represents developers pursuing large­-scale, public-private partnership development projects. She currently represents the Master Developer for the City of Joplin, Missouri, who is leading all aspects of the redevelopment of the community destroyed by a category EF-5 tornado in 2011.

    Ms. Marler was recently honored by the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network as the first recipient of its Achievement of Excellence Award for her efforts lo advance the success of women in real estate, and she was named one of the “20 Under 40” women in commercial real estate. She was selected as one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” and also recognized by Real Estate Forum as one of the “Most lnfluential Women in Real Estate.”

    A 1996 graduate of Washington University School of Law, Ms. Marler is a Chambers USA listed lawyer, a Fellow in the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, a Missouri Super Lawyer, a past president of Commercial Real Estate Women of St. Louis, and an advisory board member for the Jeffrey E. Smith Institute of Real Estate at the University of Missouri. Ms. Marler previously served on the national CREW Network Board, leading an organization of more than 8,000 real estate professionals. She has served on the Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign and is part of the local leadership team of The Mission Continues.

    Ms. Marler and her husband, Chris Gundlach, live in Creve Coeur with their four dogs and are avid supporters of Wonder Weims Rescue, a Weimaraner rescue organization.