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Skip Walther’s Big Year: Bar president, tennis Hall of Fame

Skip Walther’s Big Year: Bar president, tennis Hall of Fame

Skip Walther
Skip Walther
Entering his fifth decade of practicing law and playing tennis, Skip Walther has reached the pinnacle of both his passions.
Walther, who was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1979 and opened a law practice three years later, is well known in Columbia for a range of community involvement and his radio commentary on the Columbia Business Times’ Sunday Morning Roundtable on KFRU.
Over the past eight months, Walther seems to have taken the term high profile to a new level.
Walther ascended to the presidency of the Missouri Bar Association, assumed an increasingly visible role in the campaign to preserve Missouri’s system for choosing judges, received the MU law school’s highest honor for a graduate and was inducted into the U.S. Tennis Association Missouri Valley Hall of Fame.
“It’s been a good year,” Walther said.
The USTA is the nation’s primary promotional body for competitive tennis and runs events such as the U.S. Open. The Missouri Valley section covers Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and parts of Illinois. The Hall of Fame was created in 1986.
Walther’s experience with tennis began as a high-school student in Kirksville, where he was ranked No. 1 on the varsity team during his senior year. That led to playing tennis for MU, where he lettered in each of his four undergraduate years.
“I stopped playing after college and got back into it around 34 or 35,” Walther said. “I wanted to get back into shape.”
Until just a few years ago — when he had to cut back to tend to his growing leadership duties with the Missouri Bar Association — Walther played frequently at the local, regional and national levels.
Leading up to his December induction into the Hall of Fame, Walther received a wide range of awards and recognitions from the local to national levels. Once he has finished his leadership commitment to the Missouri Bar Association at the end of 2011, Walther said he hopes to re-engage as a tennis player on the national level “… if my body will hold up.”
Skip Walther
Skip Walther
For now, much of Walther’s focus is on the Missouri Bar Association. He was elected in 2007 to serve as vice president, which put him on the presidential track, a role he assumed in September of last year. Following his one-year term, Walther will serve one year as past president.
“It’s fun to be a part of an effort to administer justice in Missouri,” he said.
Part of Walther’s agenda is to focus on the perception of the professionalism of the practice of law.
“There is a perception that there is a decreasing amount of professionalism among attorneys,” Walther said. “Addressing that is a focus of my time as president.”
He also has a particular interest in addressing the need for adequate funding of legal services, the public defender system and the prosecutor system. (Walther was an assistant prosecutor in Boone County for three years and now is a partner in the Walther, Antel, Stamper & Fischer law firm.)
Another issue that will likely continue to absorb a great deal of Walther’s time is combating the effort to change Missouri’s system for choosing most of its judges. The Bar opposes changing the merit-based system, commonly referred to as Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan, which is used to seat all appellate judges and about half of the trial judges. If a petition is validated, Missouri voters will decide in November whether to discard the current system and require all judges to be elected.
“As the primary spokesman for the Bar, a big part of my job is representing us in that debate,” Walther said.
Just weeks after becoming the Missouri Bar president, Walther was awarded the highest honor given by the MU School of Law to a graduate, the Citation of Merit. He was one of two recipients for 2009, along with an attorney from Kansas City.

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