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TOPEKA—Karen Arnold-Burger, chief judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals, is the 2021 recipient of the Robert L. Gernon Award presented by the Kansas Continuing Legal Education Board.

Established in 2005, the Gernon Award recognizes individuals or organizations demonstrating a unique commitment to legal education for lawyers in Kansas and for providing outstanding service to continuing legal education.

Arnold-Burger was nominated by the Kansas Women Attorney’s Association, the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka and Chief Justice Marla Luckert. In the nomination letters, all highlighted the impact Judge Arnold-Burger has had on the legal profession in Kansas. 

“Chief Judge Arnold Burger has a gift for engaging all of these audiences, delivering her educational tonic in the most entertaining way, as evidenced by the near constant demand for her appearances,” Luckert said in her nomination.

Arnold-Burger has presented over 118 continuing legal education and continuing judicial education programs in the past 10 years, the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka said in its nomination.

“As lawyers and judges our lives are so busy,” Arnold-Burger said. “Continuing legal education really forces us to stay up-to-date in our substantive areas of law and reminds us of the importance of ethical behavior. 

Arnold-Burger also mentioned that she enjoys finding topics that fit into the “we don’t know what we don’t know,” category, and that she loves seeing lawyers and judges experience that “aha” moment.

Arnold-Burger graduated with a degree in political science and psychology from the University of Kansas in 1979 and from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1981. She was a municipal court judge for 20 years in Overland Park before joining the Kansas Court of Appeals in 2011.

She has served as president of the Kansas Municipal Judges Association, Earl E. O’Connor Inn of Court, and the Johnson County Bar Association, as well as a member of the American Bar Association, University Kansas School of Law Board of Governors, and the National Judicial College Faculty Council. 

Justice Robert Gernon served on the Kansas Supreme Court from 2003 until his death in 2005 and previously on the Kansas Court of Appeals from 1988 to 2003. He worked to improve the training, education, and professionalism of attorneys in Kansas and across the nation.

“Judge Arnold-Burger inspires us all to be better,” said the Kansas Women Attorneys Association in its nominating letter. “She lives up to Justice Gernon’s memory and the standards he set for us all.”

Past award recipients are:

  • 2019—Laura Shaneyfelt, Lawrence

  • 2018—Stephen Angermeyer, Pittsburg

  • 2017—David E. Pierce, Topeka

  • 2016—Foulston Siefkin law firm, Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City

  • 2015—Jan Hamilton, Topeka

  • 2014—Steve Obermeier, Olathe

  • 2013—Robert Collins, Wichita

  • 2012—Cynthia Grimes, Lenexa

  • 2011—J. Nick Badgerow, Overland Park

  • 2010—Jack Scott McInteer, Wichita

  • 2009—Mira Mdivani, Overland Park

  • 2008—Sheila Reynolds, Topeka

  • 2007—District Judge Robert J. Schmisseur, Pratt

  • 2006—Philip Bowman, Wichita


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