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2015 40 Under 40 Honoree: Summer Masterson-Goethals

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With clients spread across 19 counties, Summer Masterson-Goethals has many opportunities to assist people as a staff attorney focusing on consumer law for Legal Services of Southern Missouri. Some clients, however, stand out.

Two of them are an older husband and wife who were being harassed by a predatory lender. He was in ill health, and she was his caregiver.

“Though I tried to resolve the situation amicably with the lender, they refused,” Masterson-Goethals says. “I was able to file a petition in court and use a statute that isn’t commonly applied to a debtor-creditor relationship to get the employees to stop going to my clients’ house. They were very grateful to simply get peace in their home so that they could devote all of their energy toward caring for each other.”

She was instrumental in the creation of the Southwest Missouri Consumer Task Force, which focuses on preventing fraud and disseminating information to the public. As a member of that group, Masterson-Goethals works with other agencies to review current fraud trends with scams and businesses.

She is frequently asked by the Missouri Bar to speak on continuing legal education and write about consumer issues and trial practice. “For someone who is early in her career, this is unusual and quite an honor,” Masterson-Goethals says. “The Missouri Bar coordinates CLE speakers based upon extensive experience and expertise.”

Last year, she was asked to write two Missouri Bar Deskbook chapters on discovery. The book is a treatise on general legal topics for attorneys.

Also last year, Masterson-Goethals was chosen by the Missouri Bar as a member of the 2014 Leadership Academy, a small group of attorneys who have demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to the bar. Several thousand attorneys are nominated each year; a mere 10 to 12 are selected.

Masterson-Goethals is a member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and the National Association of Consumer Advocates. She also was a 2012 nominee for Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s Women in the Law Public Interest Award.

Masterson-Goethals often helps clients beyond their legal issues, such as the mother who was unemployed and didn’t have regular contact with her children. She now has a place to live, is employed and sees her kids.

“Many of my colleagues wouldn’t sit down with their clients to go over their life goals or their monthly income and expenses to see where they can make better decisions, but I feel that is an important part of my job,” Masterson-Goethals says. “If I only help them with their legal issue, but we don’t discuss what got them there in the first place or how their choices affect their outcome, they will just repeat the same history.”[[In-content Ad]]

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