Posted On: February 25, 2021
Andrew Sartorius, a trial lawyer in Jefferson City and 2014 graduate of the Starkloff Career Academy, joined Dream Big students and staff for the 2021 Law and Advocacy Panel, held Feb. 3 over Zoom. For Andrew, the virtual event represented a welcome occasion to pay it forward.
“I have been very fortunate to have had people who mentored me, most notably the late Judge Teitelman of the Missouri Supreme Court, so I take every opportunity to try and give back to the next generation,” Andrew acknowledges. “The idea of sitting down and talking to kids about law seemed like a lot of fun to me, and hopefully I answered some of the questions they had.”
Andrew kick-started the conversation by leading an icebreaker activity. In addition to his courtroom work, Andrew also serves as an assistant professor at Lincoln University, so engaging an audience is a regular responsibility. He credits a course he took at the Trial Lawyers College with teaching him to overcome any inhibitions about public speaking.
“As part of the program, they make you sing a song in front of everybody as well as write and recite a poem in front of everyone,” Andrew recounts. “The idea being that there probably are not many poet laureates among us, but if you can sing a ridiculous, acapella tune before a group of people, then you can ask that group of people some questions at jury selection.”
Andrew encouraged Dream Big students to take an ambitious approach to their career searches while also remaining receptive to new ideas. Despite his success in the legal profession, Andrew only reluctantly enrolled in law school.
“I thought I would be a doctor. People had been telling me for years that I should study law, but I was working on a Master’s in molecular biology,” Andrew recalls. “So I went from reading about proteins that are only identified by confusing groups of letters and numbers to reading cases that are basically nice, neat stories — a lot more fun and interesting. I had a lot of fun in law school, and I’m good at what I do, but it was not my first choice.”
Law and advocacy panelists included individuals from a variety of legal backgrounds, each with a different type of disability. Andrew, who has a visual impairment resulting from albinism, says bringing together such a diverse group of role models is what makes an event like this so impactful.
“What I inevitably saw growing up were groups of people who weren’t like me, whether it was in terms of personality, disability or ability,” Andrew explains. “But the good thing about this presentation was we had people of all abilities doing all kinds of different jobs. That’s a great thing for young people because it’s much easier to assess possible careers when they include individuals you can relate to and identify with.”
Andrew hopes Dream Big students left with a sense of optimism for the future, whether it leads to the legal profession or something else.
“A lot of times, our pragmatic side looks at what we’re good at, what’s going to make the most money; but my message to the kids was to find what you love and do it,” Andrew concludes. “Find what you love, find what you’re passionate about and make it happen.”