Julius Oswald watched his father as a county judge in Cooper County, Mo., in an old courthouse, but his real tip off into a law career came in college when he heard discussion of separation of church and state.

Julius Oswald watched his father as a county judge in Cooper County, Mo., in an old courthouse, but his real tip off into a law career came in college when he heard discussion of separation of church and state.

“This was at a Catholic college (Rockhurst), and I thought that was pretty interesting for an institution that’s sort of related to religion wanting separation of church and state,” Oswald said. “I was pretty well convinced it was something I wanted to do.”

Sitting in his Blue Springs office at Cochran, Oswald & Roam LLC, Oswald recalled memories during his nearly 40-year law career. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in industrial relations from Rockhurst, Oswald earned his juris doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In 1967, the Vietnam War was at its height, and Oswald was a recent law-school graduate. He had a difficult time gaining his first employment, but he worked briefly at a law firm in Kansas City.

Within two or three years, he started looking again. Oswald was married, and he wanted an area to settle down that had potential for growth. After looking all across Missouri, he spoke with Jack Cochran, a former classmate at UMKC, and the two decided to partner in their own Blue Springs law firm in August 1970.

“The town at that time was just about ready to break open,” Oswald said. In 1970, Blue Springs had a population of fewer than 7,000 residents. Today, its population stands at more than 54,000 residents.

“It was sort of THE place, believe it or not,” he said. “I’ve seen most of the houses built around in the area. I could write a book on some of the developers and some of the idiosyncrasies that some of those people had. It’s been fun watching them go and grow.”  

Oswald has served as counsel for the Blue Springs School District and other school districts for more than three decades.

As the first member of his family on either side to attend college (his father’s role as a judge was what today would be considered a county commissioner), Oswald said he is a firm believer in the educational system and its ability to help students achieve their dreams.

“I think it’s done wonders to help me be successful,” he said, “financially, to some degree, but more, to be in tune to work with people, deal with people, relate to people and hopefully, help people.”

He particularly enjoys serving on committees that help select scholarship recipients. Oswald’s “biggest thrill,” he said, comes in awarding scholarships to those students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.

“It requires a letter of reference that this poor kid that they think has got a lot of potential but can’t get the grades because they’re the sole support as a senior in high school for five brothers and sisters and that sort of thing,” Oswald said.

“It just makes you cry, quite frankly. I’ve tried to help some of these kids myself. I want them to have every opportunity to get ahead.”

In a job that varies between 50 to 60 hours each week, Oswald, 67, said the “R word” of retirement is one that hasn’t been in his vocabulary.

He subscribes to about 30 periodicals, enjoys a good game of golf and admits that he’d like to get back to his horse-riding days sometime.

Few people know about Oswald’s love for ranches and horses, he said, and whenever he drives past the Flint Hills along Interstate 70 in Kansas, he’d “like to get on a horse and take off.”

But Oswald’s absolute favorite thing right now is coordinating the monthly legislative briefings in Blue Springs, which he started on his own in 1972.

He recalled that in their first 10 years, the legislators didn’t allow members of the press to attend the briefings.

“I have so much fun with those guys,” Oswald said with a laugh. “I still have a lot of fun with it because those guys are only human.”