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Nikki Hutson, 29
Associate Attorney at Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson P.C.
ï¡¿Growing up in Webb City as the daughter of small-business owners, Nikki Hutson always knew she’d either go into business or become an attorney. With an undergraduate degree in business management from Missouri State University and a law degree from the University of Missouri, Hutson is getting the best of both worlds as an associate attorney at Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson, a firm that represents many organizations—especially schools and hospitals—in southwest Missouri. “I think I needed both [the business and the law] sides in what I’m doing,” she says. “I work a lot for management and obviously the law shapes all sorts of policies in a business setting.”
In addition to her busy role at the firm, Hutson recently coordinated the volunteers for the Junior League of Springfield’s high-profile poverty-discussion series featuring Dr. Ruby Payne. The year-long project—which included funding and collaboration with nearly a dozen other local agencies—occurred over two exhausting days in February. Hutson also sits on the board for the Ozarks Health Advocacy Organization and helps the group allocate approximately $80,000 in grants to nonprofit agencies every year, a role that deepens her knowledge and relationship with nonprofit groups from around the area.
Education: I graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Management, minor in Legal Studies with honors in 2007. I then attended law school at the University of Missouri where I received my juris doctor (J.D.) in 2010.
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
Because I am from a small town in the area, I came back to Springfield after law school to be close to family. Also, I was lucky enough to find a position at a firm in Springfield after law school. About a year later, I found my niche and joined Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson, P.C. I have been here ever since.
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
When a client comes to me, they are typically seeking advice for a problem or a potential problem. I feel privileged to do what I do every day in that individuals and businesses trust me to advise them through what can be their most delicate and stressful situations. Because I believe that my passion for my profession is, in part, due to my curiosity, I really enjoy assisting clients through these situations. It really just comes down to finding a solution for a problem.
3. Tell us about your family.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
Are hobbies what you do with free time? What’s free time? When I do have free time, I love to stay active in a variety of ways, including my regular TRX and Pilates classes. When the weather is nice, I love to get outside—preferably on a patio at happy hour with friends.
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role? Why is it important to you?)
I am a member of the Junior League of Springfield. I am currently on a committee that has helped plan and organize poverty expert Dr. Ruby Payne’s visit to Springfield. I am also a board member of Ozarks Health Advocacy Foundation, a board member of the House Corporation of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority at Missouri State University, and a member of The Network.
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role?)
Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association
Missouri Bar Association
American Bar Association
7. How would you define the secret to success?
Hands down, work ethic. Success comes from hard work, dedication and commitment, which is not always easy. I believe that successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
The diversity. No two days are ever the same. It always keeps me on my toes!
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
I love that Springfield has the feel of a big city and a small town. Everyone is connected. I enjoy that people in 417-land have such a dedication to supporting local businesses and industries. They also take pride in giving back and making 417-land a better place to live.
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
The tough times will only make you stronger and develop your character.
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
I have wanted to be an attorney for as long as I can remember. I am not sure I really knew what an attorney did at age 5, but I wanted to be one nonetheless.
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
Ambition. Work ethic. Integrity.
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
My friends would say it is my hard work, but I think it is my ability to dedicate myself to a busy career that I love and still give back to my community through my volunteer efforts.
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
I’m sorry, but that is protected by attorney-client privilege.
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
In my line of work, I typically see clients under stressful situations. I am proud anytime a client is pleased with our progress or an outcome on a particular matter.
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
Andy’s James Brownie Funky Jackhammer with chocolate custard makes life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without an IV of coffee.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm still having this much fun.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would pay off my law school loans.
The best part about being a 20 Under 30 is being recognized for my accomplishments.