Karen Tokarz

Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law & Policy, Director, Negotiation & Dispute Resolution Program, and Director, Civil Rights & Mediation Clinic, Washington University School of Law

As did the Virgils, Karen unquestionably considers service to the community to be a way of life and her life’s work embodies the core values their award seeks to honor. More than anyone else I know, Karen goes above and beyond her professional responsibilities in her service to the St. Louis community. She has a life-long commitment to equal justice and public service and is dedicated to serving others.

Ethic of Service Award Nomination

Professor of law at the Washington University School of Law since 1987, Karen Tokarz is an internationally recognized expert in mediation, dispute resolution, civil rights, and clinical legal education. In 2008, she was named the inaugural Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law & Policy at the law school. At the law school, she coordinates the Public interest law & Policy Speaker Series, and serves as the faculty advisor for the Journal of Law & Policy, OUTlaw, and the American Constitution Society. 

Director of the law school’s Negotiation & Dispute Resolution Program, Professor Tokarz has been named to Best Lawyers in America in the field of Mediation every year since 2010. In fall 2019, she was inducted as a Distinguished Fellow in the International Academy of Mediators. She currently serves as director of the law school’s Civil Rights & Mediation Clinic, and founder and president of the St. Louis Mediation Project, which provides free eviction mediation services in the courts and the community. She has mediated over 750 cases, primarily in the areas of civil rights and discrimination, over the past 25 years. 

Professor Tokarz has received several teaching and client advocacy awards, including Washington University’s Distinguished Faculty Award at Founders Day 2005, the Student Bar Association Experiential Professor of the Year, and the Black Law Student Association Instructor of the Year. 

Professor Tokarz served on the Ferguson Commission Municipal Courts & Governance Working Group and currently serves on the Missouri Supreme Court Commission on Racial & Ethnic Fairness. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Center for State Courts National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices. 

Education: A graduate of Webster University in St. Louis with a major in social and behavioral science, Professor Tokarz received her Juris Doctor degree from Saint Louis University and a graduate law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.