Each year, the UMKC Law Foundation and Alumni Association recognize exceptional alumni and friends of the School of Law with joint awards acknowledging philanthropy, leadership, service to the School of Law and the legal community, and lifetime achievement. Honorees will be recognized during The Big Event on February 23, 2019. The winners will be provided with a recognition gift expressing the appreciation of the UMKC Law Foundation and the Law Alumni Association.

Decade Award – Abraham Kuhl (’08)

Abe Kuhl is a Partner at Young Jakobe & Kuhl LLC. In his ten years of practice, Abe has made outstanding contributions to the legal profession and has a well–deserved reputation in the legal community. He is a respected member of the family law bar, both in Eastern Jackson County and the state of Missouri. Abe is an adjunct professor at UMKC School of Law and serves on the Law Alumni Association Board. He serves as Chairman of the KCMBA DomesticRelations committee, serves as the President of the KCMBA Family Law Section and past member of the Board of Directors for the KCMBA, and is currently serving on the board of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation. He also volunteers his time to charitable organizations and causes, in the Lee’s Summit and Kansas City areas. He provides pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence through the Volunteer Attorney Project and provides pro bono legal services to our military veterans through the Military Matters program.

Pat Kelly Service Award – M. Blake Heath (’09)

Blake Heath is the owner of M. Blake Heath, Trial Attorney, LLC. He focuses his practice on helping clients in complex personal injury suits, product liability claims, medical malpractice lawsuits, and insurance coverage disputes. Blake started giving back to UMKC School of Law almost immediately after he graduated. He started serving on the Pat Kelly Poker Tournament Committee in 2010, and he took over as chair of the committee in 2013, a role he still holds. Blake also serves on the Law Alumni Association Board, and he is a member of the Bob Downs Golf Tournament Committee. In addition to his work with the various committees, Blake has taught continuing legal education seminars through the UMKC School ofLaw such as the mock civil trial put on at the law school each year. Blake has not only given back his time to the Law School, but he has also supported theSchool financially as a consistent donator to the Law Foundation and events held for the law school.

Pro Bono/Public Service Award – Hon. Karen L. Krauser (’02)

The Honorable Karen L. Krauser serves as a Circuit Judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit Court. Judge Krauser has dedicated her career to public service.  She began as an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Clay County Prosecutors Attorney’s Office, eventually working her way to the role of Deputy Chief.  Judge Krauser has worked to improve the quality of our justice system and the overall betterment of the legal profession thorough her appointed positions and dedicated efforts on multiple committees and sub committees. She also generously devotes her time, energy and resources to many professional and charitable organizations.



Lifetime Achievement Award – Fred L. Slough (’74)

Fred’s first trial experience was as a criminal defense lawyer, often appointed, with little or no pay. He continued to practice criminal defense until he moved over to plaintiff’s side personal injury, civil rights and discrimination cases. Fred is now a solo practitioner at the Law Office of Fred Slough. He continues to work on litigation and is also a mediator. Fred is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, the National Employment Lawyers Association – Kansas City, the National Lawyers Guild, the Kansas City Metropolitan BarAssociation and the Missouri Association Against the Death Penalty. In addition to Missouri state courts, Fred is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States, 10th and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, United States. District Court for the Western District of Missouri and the U.S. District Court for theDistrict of Kansas.

Philanthropy Award – Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium (KCEPS)

The Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium (KCEPS) has been associated with the UMKC School of Law since 1981.Since then, the UMKC Continuing Legal Education program provides services to this organization and presents three seminars that attract more than 1,000 professionals each year. Additionally, to encourage law students to consider the field of estate planning as a career, the KCEPS Prize was established in 1999 and is annually awarded to students who write an exemplary paper on an estate planning or taxation problem or who distinguish themselves during an internship in a law firm that specializes in estate planning. In 2017, KCEPS established the Myron Sildon Endowed Scholarship that is awarded to 3L or LLM taxation students. The scholarship honors the legacy ofMyron Sildon, the founder of the organization. KCEPS has not only made significant financial commitment to the UMKCSchool of Law but has helped expand the reputation of the law school to the estate planning community and beyond

President’s Award –  Honorable Lajuana Counts (’88)  James R. “J.R.” Hobbs (’81)

The Honorable Lajuana Counts is a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the WesternDistrict of Missouri.  She served asAssistant United States Attorney for the Western District for nearly thirty years. Lajuana’s enthusiasm for service seems limitless. She is the immediate past president of the Law Foundation and her continuing service to UMKC earned her the prestigious Bill French Award. She has served on the Jackson County BarAssociation since it was founded and is a past president. Within the KCMBA, she served as co-chair of the diversity initiative and was in line to serve president before her judicial appointment took precedence. The same story of service and leadership can be found through her involvement in the National BarAssociation, the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, the UMKC Women’s Council, and the Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance.

James R. Hobbs is a shareholder at Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian, P.C.  He has an active practice in the areas of white-collar criminal defense, criminal defense, and commercial litigation.  He represents individuals and businesses.J.R. is a past president of the Law Foundation and continues to serve as an adjunct professor at UMKC School of Law. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, a Fellow in the InternationalSociety of Barristers, and a member of the American Board of TrialAdvocates.  He has served on the MissouriAppellate Judicial Commission and is currently a member of the Missouri SupremeCourt Commission on Race and Ethnic Fairness. J.R. Hobbs is a past recipient of the Lon O. Hocker Memorial Trial Lawyer Award bestowed by the Missouri Bar Foundation and recipient of the Dean of the Trial Bar, awarded by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.