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2010 40 Under 40: Warford Johnson III

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As Warford “Trace” Johnson climbs the ladder of achievement he reaches back and offers a hand up to less experienced attorneys within his firm. He recalls that it wasn’t long ago when he was a newly licensed attorney faced with real clients with real dilemmas.

Three years of law school did little to help a young lawyer, he says, “to know which way to the courthouse.”

“Over the years I have been very fortunate to have a few particularly generous seasoned attorneys and a wonderful local bar association to mentor me,” Johnson says. “Now that I have experience, I enjoy helping newer attorneys with some of the same questions that I used to have.”

Johnson joined Baird, Lightner, Millsap & Harpool PC in 2008. He works with several types of litigation, including insurance defense, real estate, professional and municipal liability and civil rights.

Beyond his work, he is passionate about his role as president of the board of directors of Parenting Life Skills Center, a regional organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing resources and education to parents and guardians of at-risk children.

Johnson has been on PLSC’s board since 2003 and its president since 2006. During his tenure, the nonprofit evolved from consistently operating in the red to having a little cash left over at the end of each month. Though the shift wasn’t easy, he counts the center’s ongoing change as his proudest accomplishment.

“It was a painful time involving tough decisions in terms of cutting some staff while preserving essential community services,” Johnson says. “Because of these decisions, however, PLSC emerged much more financially sound.”

A troubling financial picture raised concerns about continued viability, but Johnson and the board believed that the community’s need was too important to let the organization die. Their efforts have led to firm financial footing and expanded services.

“PLSC is now in such strong condition that I was able to approach Boys and Girls Town of Missouri to form a partnership which will allow it to offer services to clients within Greene County and to more counties around southwest Missouri,” Johnson says. “This is especially important to me, given that Greene County, (according to) the most recent report of the Missouri Office of Child Advocate for Children’s Protection and Services, has the largest amount of child abuse and neglect complaints of any Missouri county.”

Furthering his efforts to help children, Johnson also serves as an advisory board member for Boys and Girls Town and Children’s Foundation of Mid-America.[[In-content Ad]]

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