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 WashULaw students and alumni.

2018 Distinguished Law Alumni Awards

The School of Law celebrated the outstanding achievements of these eight individuals on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel, St. Louis.

  • Paul A. Koch, BSBA ’61, JD ’64, MBA ’68

    2018 Distinguished Alumnus
    Paul A. Koch, BSBA ’61, JD ’64, MBA ’68
    Entrepreneur and Real Estate Developer

    Paul Koch became an attorney not exclusively to practice law, but to pursue his true passion to be an entrepreneur. He began his legal career in the US Air Force, serving for three years as a judge advocate and trial attorney trying courts-martial.

    Following his service in the Air Force, he returned to St. Louis to earn his MBA at Washington University. While pursuing his degree, he followed his entrepreneurial passion, hiring a construction crew and building speculative houses on scattered lots. With his homebuilding experience and new organization, he then bought and developed raw ground for several subdivisions, and began building and selling the homes. In 1970, he and his brother, Roger, BSBA ’64, MBA ‘66, combined their resources to form Koch Development Company. Together they built, bought and managed apartments, accumulating a portfolio of over 1,500 units.

    In the 1990s, they sold their units and redeployed their capital into commercial real estate. Ultimately, Paul and Roger developed and invested in more than 1,000,000 square feet of office, industrial, retail and warehouse properties. In 2011, they took another entrepreneurial leap by developing the first modern 20-story (200 feet high) Ferris wheel in the United States in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Today, Koch Development Company is the largest Ferris wheel developer/owner in the country, with existing wheels and/or wheels under development in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Panama Beach, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

    Paul is active in establishing the Koch Center for Family Business in the Olin Graduate School of Business, where he is a distinguished alumnus. He is also a Law Placement Volunteer and served on the Alumni/Parent Admission Program. He resides in St. Louis with his wife, Elke, and has two married children and three grandchildren.

  • Kevin J. Lipson, JD ’80

    2018 Distinguished Alumnus
    Kevin J. Lipson, JD ’80
    Partner, Hogan Lovells LLP

    Kevin Lipson is a partner at Hogan Lovells in the Houston office, where he is immersed in the energy industry representing interstate natural gas pipelines, trading floors, electric utilities and other industry participants. He also manages the law firm’s global client relationships with Ford Motor Co. and Bank of America and serves as the chair of the Hogan Lovells Global Energy Summit.

    At the earliest stages of his career, Kevin decided to specialize in the energy sector and has devoted his entire career to that industry. He first worked for several years as an associate in the D.C. office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius. In 1983, Kevin was one of the founding lawyers of Newman & Holtzinger. In 1994, Kevin and a group of lawyers joined the D.C. office of Hogan & Hartson. Kevin served as head of the firm’s global energy practice from 1995-2010, and upon the combination of firms that created Hogan Lovells, he was head of the US energy practice and global co-head of the Energy Industry Group from 2010-2012.

    Kevin and Irv Shapell, JD ’79, co-founded The Jewish Advocacy Center in 1982, which existed to bring civil damage actions against the perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence. Kevin and Irv represented a Maryland synagogue that had been desecrated with Nazi symbols. In 1984, The United States Supreme Court unanimously held that the protections of the federal civil rights statutes were available to Jewish victims of hate crimes. The JAC represented the synagogue in the matter in the lower courts, and Irv and Kevin served as co-counsel in the Supreme Court.

    Kevin earned his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and was the articles editor for the law review. As an alumnus, he has served as a national council member, university campaign volunteer, facilitated a D.C. event with Chief Justice John Roberts and created the Lipson Scholar in Law annual scholarship.

    Kevin has been recognized regularly by his peers as a leading lawyer in Chambers, Legal 500, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. He and his wife, Jan, MA ’79, have two sons, Ben, AB ’07, and Sam, AB ’10. The couple lives in Houston, Texas, and Port Clyde, Maine.

  • The Honorable Shirley Padmore Mensah, JD ’95

    2018 Distinguished Alumna
    The Honorable Shirley Padmore Mensah, JD ’95
    United States Magistrate Judge, US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

    Shirley Padmore Mensah is a United States Magistrate Judge with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Judge Mensah presides over criminal misdemeanor and petty offense cases; suppression hearings and other pretrial proceedings in felony criminal cases; habeas cases; and naturalizations. Judge Mensah also presides over all manner of civil actions through the entry of a final judgment, with consent of the parties. She took the bench for the first time in 2012, and in 2016, Chief Justice Roberts appointed Judge Mensah to serve as the magistrate judge representative to the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services. Before and after her appointment to the court, Judge Mensah taught trial practice and procedure at Washington University School of Law.

    Before her appointment, Judge Mensah worked for 17 years at Husch Blackwell as a trial lawyer whose litigation practice was concentrated in the areas of complex commercial, product liability, toxic tort, and construction disputes. Judge Mensah received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Judge Mensah has been honored by the Washington University School of Law Women’s Law Caucus and at the inaugural Black Law Students Awards Banquet. She was also recognized as one of 40 up-and-coming business leaders in the St. Louis Business Journal’s 2004 “40 Under 40,” and received the Theodore McMillian Award from the Black Law Students’ Association at Saint Louis University School of Law for her commitment to diversify the study and practice of law. She is a graduate of the 2006-2007 class of Leadership St. Louis.

    Originally from Monrovia, Liberia, she came to the United States with her family at the age of 10 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988. She resides in St. Louis with her husband, Paul, and daughters Ava and Olivia.

  • Lewis “Red” Mills, LL.B. ’54

    2018 Distinguished Alumnus
    Lewis “Red” Mills, LLB ’54
    Retired Dean, Attorney, Veteran

    Lewis R. “Red” Mills, a native of St. Louis, earned his bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown University and doctor of science of jurisprudence from the University of Wisconsin, with a focus on American legal history. In 1954, Red married Gloria “Cupie” Keitel. While in law school, Red was awarded the Order of the Coif and was an associate editor of the Law Quarterly.

    After earning his doctorate, Red enlisted in the US Army and was stationed in Paris from 1956-57, where he attained the rank of private first class. Upon his separation from active duty, he joined the firm of Husch, Eppenberger, Donohue, Elson & Jones. He then joined Grand, Peper, Martin & Roudebusch, where he stayed until he joined the faculty of Washington University School of Law in 1964. Here he taught courses in corporate law, securities regulation, agency, creditors’ rights and legal history. He also published articles in the Columbia Law Review, the Duke Law Journal and the University of Wisconsin Law Review, among others. He was acting dean of our law school from 1972- 1973. Red returned to the practice of law at Peper, Martin, Jensen, Maichel & Hetlage in 1973 until 1997, when he joined Thompson Coburn; there his practice primarily focused on ERISA litigation. He is now retired.

    Over the course of his legal career, Red’s practice has included a wide range of subjects and appearances in both federal and state courts. His more recent cases have involved termination of retiree medical benefits, cash balance retirement accounts, and the scope of ERISA preemption, as well as the doctrine of equivalents in patent law. Red has also served as a mediator and arbitrator in various matters.

    As an alumnus, Red has served on the Alumni Board of Governors and the Law Eliot Society Committee and created the Lewis “Red” Mills Endowed Scholarship and The Lewis “Red” Mills Endowed Veteran’s Scholarship. Red is also an honorable overseas member of the Commercial Bar Association in London, England.

    Red lives in St. Louis and has two children, Andrea Van Cleve and Lewis R. Mills, and five wonderful grandchildren.

  • Cory T. Shade, JD ’89, MBA ’91

    2018 Distinguished Alumna
    Cory T. Shade, JD ’89, MBA ’91
    General Counsel, Apple Leisure Group

    In August 2017, Cory Shade was appointed as general counsel for and member of the Apple Leisure Group Executive Committee, a leading all-inclusive global resort management and travel service provider.

    Upon graduating from Washington University with her J.D. and M.B.A., Cory worked at Citibank as a corporate attorney while participating in Citibank’s management associate program. After Citibank, Cory worked as a corporate attorney with the law firm Steel, Hector & Davis, LLP, which is now known as Squire, Saunders & Dempsey, LLP and Kilpatrick Stockton LLP. Her practice included securities, mergers and acquisitions, and financing, as well as general corporate counseling. She was also the general counsel of Firstcom Corporation, which merged into AT&T Latin America, where she was responsible for all legal and governance matters. In 2006, Cory became the executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at Perry Ellis International. Inc., where she was responsible for all legal matters worldwide. She remained with Perry Ellis until her appointment at ALG. Cory has also served as an adjunct professor of ethics and corporate governance in the PhD program at Lynn University, and was appointed by President Bush to the board of directors for the Student Loan Marketing Association.

    Outside of work, Shade is currently active in a local church, recently served on the Pension Board for the City of Oakland Park and the national board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. She is a 2017 graduate of DirectWomen. Cory has remained involved with WashU, serving on our Gold Coast Regional Cabinet and as a university campaign volunteer and a former member of the Gold Coast Eliot Membership Committee.

    Cory holds a B.A. in economics from George Washington University. She lives in Miami with her daughter, Sloan.

  • Donald J. Sher, AB ’47, JD ’49

    2018 Distinguished Alumnus 
    Donald J. Sher, AB ’47, JD ’49 
    Retired Attorney, Volunteer

    Don Sher began his legal career in 1949 working for and with his father. After his father’s death, Don was a solo practitioner, incorporating in 1972 as Donald J. Sher, Attorney, Inc. The firm became Sher & Sher, P.C. after his son joined the firm, and operated as such until its dissolution in 2001. Don retired from active practice in 1994. Don began as a small solo general practitioner, though the corporations later focused on landlord-tenant, consumer debt collection, real estate, probate and estate planning. Highlights of his career include arguing a case before the Missouri Supreme Court regarding the homestead exemption and a successful relationship with the St. Louis Housing Authority for more than 10 years.

    While in active practice, Don was a longtime member of and chair for the Magistration Committee of the Missouri Bar, assisting with the drafting and creation of Court-approved forms for use in the then-magistrate (now associate circuit) courts which are still in use today. He was a member of the American Bar Association, and remains a member of the Missouri Bar, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and the Lawyers Association of St. Louis. Over his years in practice, Don also accepted referrals from the Lawyers Reference Service, offering his expertise pro bono or at greatly reduced fees to community members in need. Upon retirement, Don began volunteering with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. There he has volunteered for more than 20 years, covering large dockets of contested and uncontested divorce cases for indigent people in St. Louis, all at no cost to the clients, in addition to mentoring law students in the practicalities of being a lawyer. He was also a pro se docket volunteer in Judge Hemphill’s division in the St. Louis County Circuit Court.

    In 1999, Don received the Legal Services of Eastern Missouri Equal Justice Award and was named a LSEM Wall of Justice honoree and Missouri Bar Pro Bono Award recipient in 2001. He was also an Oasis tutor with the Ritenour School District from 2002-2011 and a mentor to middle school students in a Clayton School District program matching students with members of older generations.

    Don lives in St. Louis with his wife, Shirley. They have three children and four grandchildren.

2018 Distinguished Young Law Alumni Awards

The Distinguished Young Law Alumni Awards honor alumni who graduated from the School of Law within the past 10 years. The recipients exemplify achievement and commitment to the ideals embodied in a School of Law education.

  • Nicole T.S. Cortés, AB ’06, MSW ’12, JD ’12

    2018 Distinguished Young Alumna
    Nicole T.S. Cortés, AB ’06, MSW ’12, JD ’12
    Co-director, Attorney, The MICA Project

    Nicole T.S. Cortés is a co-director and attorney at the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project. She founded the organization with her law school classmate, Jessica Mayo, in 2011. The MICA Project is a nonprofit organization that works with immigrants to overcome barriers to justice. It utilizes legal services, organizing, advocacy and education to promote the voice and human dignity of immigrant communities. Nicole is fluent in Spanish and works with clients on a wide variety of immigration law matters including deportation defense, asylum, and other humanitarian relief. She heads the MICA Project’s outreach efforts to the Latino community in the form of educational presentations and workshops.

    While at Washington University, Nicole was engaged with the Immigration Law Society and other student groups focused on public interest law. Her commitment to service developed through work with grassroots organizations in Mexico and Chile, social work practica, and internships with organizations such as Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants. She has experience working with community partners, coalition building, community outreach, and program coordination and evaluation. She is also skilled at addressing the non-legal needs of her clients in the context of immigration law. Nicole is passionate about challenging and dismantling systems of oppression and working alongside her clients in their journeys toward justice.

    Nicole received the Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) MSW Award in 2015 from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award from the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement in 2013. She remains involved with the university through service to the Brown School and School of Law. Nicole resides in St. Louis with her two young children Sebastian and Noelia.

  • Jessica D. Mayo, JD ’12

    2018 Distinguished Young Alumna
    Jessica D. Mayo, JD ’12
    Co-director, Attorney, The MICA Project

    Jessica Mayo is a co-director and attorney at the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project. She founded the organization with her law school classmate, Nicole Cortés, in 2011. The MICA Project is a nonprofit organization that works with immigrants to overcome barriers to justice. The MICA Project utilizes legal services, organizing, advocacy, and education to promote the voice and human dignity of immigrant communities. Jessica works with clients from across the globe to avoid deportation, reunite with family members and seek safety. With a staff of eight and a regular cadre of volunteers and interns, the MICA Project is now the largest nonprofit immigration legal services provider in the region.

    Jessica graduated from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis in May 2012 with her juris doctorate after completing internships with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants and the Law Offices of Suzanne Brown. Jessica also served as a volunteer at St. Patrick Center. She was active in the Immigration Law Society and the Public Service Advisory Board and was a Webster Society Scholar. Jessica is a native of St. Louis and is honored to spend her days working toward a safer and more welcoming community. A combination of privileges led to Jessica’s graduation from WashU Law, and she now seeks to utilize her law degree to advance justice for those who lack the privileges that led to her success.

    Jessica received the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award from the Gephardt Institute for  Civic and Community Engagement in 2013. Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree from Truman State University. She and her husband, Kenneth, reside in St. Louis with their two children, Levi and Damian.

Nomination Guidelines

To view the nomination guidelines, please click here.

For more information, please contact:
Office of Alumni & Development Programs
Phone: (314) 935-5246