“I was always really more drawn to the business side of law.”

Looking over Barbara Enneking’s career, it’s easy to see how true that is.

Enneking serves as general counsel of the Bi-State Development Agency, better known as Metro. It is one of Missouri’s most unusual public entities because, as the name applies, it is not entirely a Missouri agency. As an interstate compact created by the states of Missouri and Illinois and an act of Congress, Bi-State operates a vast array of transportation-related operations east and west of the Mississippi.

“We have very important powers because we can operate on both sides of the river,” Enneking said.

After earning her law degree from Capital University in her home state of Ohio in 1979, Enneking and her husband moved to Missouri. She spent four years as an assistant St. Louis County counselor.

“It actually was a great grounding for somebody who was not from the area but then became invested in a lot of the participants and issues,” she said.

She went on to hold tax attorney positions with AT&T, Farm Credit Banks of St. Louis and Ameren. Along the way, she obtained her CPA certificate, followed by an LL.M. in taxation from Washington University. Then in 1999, she changed courses and joined the Center for Emerging Technologies (which later became part of the Cortex Innovation Community), helping start-up companies in such areas as information technology and bioscience.

“It was the ’90s, and the whole world of tech and new company development and lots of exciting things were percolating and happening,” she said. “I thought I’d like to branch out and do something in a more adventurous vein.”

Enneking joined Bi-State in 2014 and now works to bring innovation to such areas as the expansion of light rail to St. Clair County, Illinois, and connecting the river ports of St. Louis to the Plaquemines Port Harbor nearly 700 miles south in Louisiana.

Bi-State’s enterprises include the various Metro services, the Gateway Arch Tram (in conjunction with the National Park Service) and the St. Louis Downtown Airport. Bi-State also has affiliated not-for-profit operations such as Arts in Transit and the Bi-State Development Research Institute. A new initiative, the St. Louis Regional Freightway, is designed to coordinate freight activity in the St. Louis region.

“You would think that would be a natural for St. Louis, given its history. We have all these Class 1 railroads. We have all this trucking and warehousing on both sides of the river,” Enneking said. “And yet none of these people has ever really been in the same room together to talk about their issues in the region in a collaborative way.”

Enneking oversees a four-person staff and a raft of outside counsel in fielding legal issues ranging from labor and employment issues to the intricacies of maritime law when a barge collides with the Eads Bridge.

“For me, it’s kind of the best of both worlds,” she said. “I deal with and get to interact with some really talented and fabulous, committed people inside the organization, and yet I also get to interact with a whole host of the local bar who are really stellar in the areas in which they work.”

2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Barbara A. Enneking