Featured Alumnus: Jeffrey McCarther

For Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey McCarther, choosing Mizzou Law was a homecoming of sorts. After going to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to study economics for undergrad, McCarther was ready to return home. Though the pull of staying around Chicago was strong, McCarther knew he wanted to eventually reside in his native Kansas City.

At Mizzou Law, McCarther said he encountered “great faculty that challenged in ways I hadn’t yet experienced.”

In McCarther’s time at Mizzou law, the old adage that law school didn’t teach you how to be a lawyer but, rather, how to think like a lawyer rang true.

“Through the faculty’s use of the Socratic method, I began to hone my logic, sharpen my arguments, and think better and faster on my feet,” he said. “I owe a lot of my success to the lessons the Mizzou faculty imparted upon me,”

Along with the faculty, McCarther found many friendships in Mizzou Law’s “very open, friendly, and social student body.”

“From the study groups to the tailgates, I had an incredible time learning about and from some brilliant people, several of whom are lifelong friends,” he said. “It was an unforgettable three years.”

Throughout law school, McCarther knew he wanted to be in public service.

“I always felt that coming from where I’d come from and getting as far as I had, I owed it to my community to give back during my career,” he said

Starting his second year, and having had great experiences with courses related to criminal law, especially including Evidence taught by Professor Frank Bowman (himself a former Assistant United States Attorney), McCarther decided criminal prosecution would be his path. But, immediately after graduation in 2009, with the economy in deep recession, he accepted a position as an associate for the prestigious Kansas City firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.

“This wasn’t really a time you could pass up a job like that, especially with all my student loans,” he said.

Although McCarther had received a full-ride scholarship to Mizzou Law, he had accumulated over six-figures of student loan debt as an undergraduate and wanted to pay it off before entering the public sector. He did. From Shook he made a brief stop with the Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor’s Office, before joining the Department of Justice in 2014.

Now, McCarther is an Assistant United States Attorney (aka federal prosecutor) in the Violent Crime & Drug Trafficking Unit in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri. There he has prosecuted numerous criminal cases, including over 20 trials to verdict. For his trial work, McCarther was the 2019 recipient of the KCMBA Thomas J. Conway Award which recognizes a young trial lawyer “with courage and zeal for the client” and a “collegial attitude toward fellow lawyers”.

McCarther attributes his career success in part to his parents who have served and have helped shape his work ethic.

“They helped imbue me with some major career principles: 1. Work hard at your job; 2. Become great at your job; and 3. After 1 & 2, be confident in your ability to do your job well,” he said. “The rest will fall into place.”

Outside of his career, McCarther dedicates time to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City and loves to spend time with his wife, Meghan Lewis (Class of ’09), their two-year-old daughter, Eve, their newborn son, Gabriel, and their dog, Charlie.