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2016 40 Under 40 Honoree: Brittany O’Brien, 39

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Brittany O’Brien is the kind of person who volunteers when obstacles keep others at bay. As a former staff attorney in the Greene County Juvenile Office, she’s gone to bat for juveniles in the foster care system from incorporating mediation into child welfare cases to advocating for canine companions in court hearings. And she won a state Supreme Court case in 2014 that shaped juvenile law in Missouri. She’s not afraid to take chances, and in September 2015 left the juvenile office to work for a small general practice law firm. Though she’s been a children’s advocate, she and her husband Bill have no kids of their own. Check out videographer Randy Bacon’s 7 Billion Ones for more on those life events.

What was your first job? I was a counter girl at Zippy’s restaurant in Kailua, Hawaii. It was a local fast food restaurant and bakery.

When did you realize you had grown up? My senior year in high school, a guy in my class died after a really bad choice on his part. I realized that my actions had potentially huge consequences and that I needed to think before acting. That, and getting my first bill I couldn’t forward on to my parents.

What about your job would shock clients? Sometimes after hours to relieve stress, I may have a dance party in my office and any co-workers are welcome to participate.

What did you learn the hard way? Never make promises to clients. As soon as something seems certain, the exact opposite will occur.


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