Joel Christensen received an Alumni Achievement Award
Photo by Brea Cunningham

Part of the promise of a liberal arts education is that it has the potential to introduce students to entirely new fields of study they never even knew would interest them.

This is not a story about that kind of student, though. When Joel Christensen first visited the Knox campus as a high school junior, he already knew that he wanted to pursue a career in law. He met with Professor Lane Sunderland to learn more about the College’s pre-law program, about the political science department, and about internship opportunities for students interested in going on to law school. He liked what he heard.

By the time he graduated from Knox, with a double major in political science and philosophy, Christensen had completed three internships—one with a private law firm, one with a state public defender, and one with the Supreme Court of the United States, where he helped the Court prepare for the investiture of Chief Justice John Roberts. At Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, he distinguished himself with the quality of his writing, going on to serve as editor-in-chief of Washington University Journal of Law & Policy and receiving the Mary Collier Hitchcock Prize for outstanding writing from the law school faculty. (Perhaps the highest endorsement of all: Christensen now teaches legal writing as a member of the school’s adjunct faculty.)

After graduating law school in 2010, he joined the firm of Devereux Murphy as an associate, then spent two years practicing with Armstrong Teasdale before joining his current firm, Behr, McCarter & Potter, P.C. In 2016, he was promoted to partner at what he describes as “the best law firm in St. Louis,” just six years into his legal career.

Christensen is deeply committed to the community where he works and lives, serving as a member of the St. Louis County Bar Association’s executive committee and as a member of the Lupus Foundation of America’s board of directors. “The Knox experience—academically and socially—gave me the tools to attend and succeed in law school and in society,” he says. “I think back regularly to experiences and conversations at Knox, and maintain close relationships with my friends and faculty—those relationships are among the most important in my life.”

What would you say is your most noticeable achievement?

My most notable achievement is personal: having a loving, supportive partner and best friend for my spouse and raising two amazing children with her.

Any advice for current students?

Enjoy every minute of life at Knox, but don’t be afraid to leave the Knox bubble when the time comes. Knox has prepared you well for whatever challenge comes next!

Joel Christensen and Professor Lane Sunderland