His father was a manufacturer’s representative for furniture companies. His mother worked part time as a bookkeeper.
Lawless attended St. Louis Country Day School, now MICDS, then Denison University in Ohio. He took the Law School Admission Test as a senior but didn’t apply right away.
Instead, he moved to Soulard with a longtime friend.
The city was in the process of tearing down buildings in the area. Lawless said the pair joined the fight against gentrification, tried to tackle poverty and ran a summer employment agency for neighborhood children.
But Lawless needed money, so he got a job as a social worker at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, widely known as the workhouse.
Lawless said many of the Soulard projects needed the services of a lawyer. At the workhouse, “Most of the requests I had from people was to contact their lawyers.”
He also recalled a lawyer aiding a client who had complained about an illegal search.
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“It kind of showed me the value of a good lawyer,” Lawless said.
‘What’s best for the people’
Lawless graduated from St. Louis University’s law school in 1977. He interned with legal giant Theodore McMillian when he was on the Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals and with an agency that handled employment discrimination cases. After graduation, he became then-U.S. District Judge Edward L. Filippine‘s first law clerk.
Originally Appeared Here