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Life lessons from Priory and the Marines prepped Brian Kaveney ’94 for unique law practice

Brian KaveneyWhen Brian Kaveney, '94, was a senior at Priory working on his senior thesis, Mr. John Mohrmann was his adviser, and they would meet at the Brentwood Steak ‘n Shake to discuss his project as the process went along. “How many teachers would go out of their way to meet you at a Steak ‘n Shake at night to discuss revisions to a paper? The dedication of the Priory faculty was exceptional,” he says, making the point that experiences like that one at Priory have laid a foundation for his career helping others in a variety of different ways.

At Priory, Brian played football and baseball and wrote for The Record. Like many alumni, he says writing is an important skill Priory imparted on him. “You have to be meticulous. The vocabulary you use has meaning,” he says. “Priory teaches you to have the discipline to plow through projects.”

After graduating, he attended The College of the Holy Cross and earned a degree in history, with honors, earned membership in the National Jesuit Honor Society, and had a full scholarship in the Marine Corps ROTC program. “I knew going in that I wanted to be a U.S. Marine infantry officer,” he says. As an infantry officer, he received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Additionally during his Marine Corps service, he worked as an aide to the Secretary of the Navy in the Pentagon, specifically an action officer, writer, and researcher for the Secretary of the Navy’s White House Liaison and Protocol Office.

“Working in the Pentagon gave me a broad perspective of military operations, and helped me identify the unique opportunity in the legal space that my work occupies now.”

Brian Kaveney yearbook photo
Brian's senior photo
in the 1994 yearbook

That space is in security clearances, legal compliance and confidential information protection for all kinds of organizations, including defense contractors and companies that are highly regulated. After his time in the Marine Corps, he attended law school at St. Louis University (where he met his wife, Becky Sauer), then joined Armstrong Teasdale, a law firm with offices across the U.S. and in China, where he founded the firm’s Industrial Security Practice.

His team at Armstrong Teasdale is the only one of its kind outside of Washington, D.C., and has a full-service mission that involves a mix of attorneys and other subject matter experts like retired law enforcement agents. His task-based organizational structure is a model he learned in the Marine Corps.

“We work in investigations, acquisitions, citizenship matters, research labs…anything that involves sensitive, protected information,” he says. “It’s fast-paced work. You have to be proactive and forward-thinking. Every situation is different, so there’s not a lot of repetitiveness.”

In addition to his work at the firm, Brian volunteers for several non-profit veterans organizations and helps with pro bono legal work on PTSD and combat injury cases. “A lot of times when you’re working with charities, the compliance rules can pose a significant number of problems,” he says. “Working with these organizations is very rewarding.”

In his spare time, Brian is a triathlete and competes in an adventure race with a team of Army Rangers. The adventure races are 18-hour-long skill competitions that are contested in teams of four, often in the Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri. “They can be challenging, but it’s rewarding to be able to still use some of those skills from the military such as land navigation with a compass,” he says.

He and Becky have three children: Sean, 8, Grace, 6, and Kit, 5.

“I have to credit Priory, particularly the monks and faculty, so much for both the academic and spiritual life preparation I had there,” he says. “You really come out of Priory with a solid compass for making the right choices, and the faith aspect of the school helps you with any challenges you face. The monks emphasize treating others with respect and living a simple life.” 

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


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