Will Taylor spent many years as a construction worker, taxi driver, nightclub security worker and teacher before entering the St. Louis University School of Law at age 34. He had already worked his way through the University of Missouri – Columbia, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, and the St. Louis University Center for Urban Programs, where he received his Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs in 1973. Before beginning his university education, Will served in the United States Air Force for four years, including one tour of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
Raised primarily in the lower-middle class neighborhoods of St. Louis, Will naturally assumed he would practice criminal law. However, during his third year of law school, a close woman friend was kidnapped from a well-known entertainment area in St. Louis and brutally gang-raped. He became outraged when, after his own investigation, he learned the security in this area was practically non-existent.
Will’s first case after receiving his license to practice law was a lawsuit filed against the bar from which his friend had been allowed to walk unescorted to her car and the redevelopment company that refused to repair streetlights that had failed on many previous occasions. The case was dismissed by a judge who refused to hear the evidence, simply ruling there was no legal duty for a business entity to provide security to a customer or business invitee. The Missouri Court of Appeals agreed.
After such a blow, Will realized that the issue of private businesses providing security to their patrons had never been thoroughly presented to the courts of Missouri. In fact, only a handful of such cases had ever been filed anywhere in the United States. After forming close relationships with a number of victim service organizations, he decided to continue filing such cases until the courts were compelled to address the issue of landowners’ responsibilities to their patrons.
In 1982, Will managed to persuade the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the landmark case of Virginia D. v. Madesco Investment Co., 648 S.W.2d 881 (Mo. banc 1982). That case involved the rape of a customer of a restaurant, located in a first class hotel in downtown St. Louis. The young woman went to a downstairs rest room, where she was attacked by a man who had entered the hotel undetected by security personnel.
The Supreme Court of Missouri, for the first time held that businesses must, under certain circumstances, provide a reasonable level of security for their patrons. From this first success, Will continued to pursue the cause of victims and has managed to expand the law of victims’ rights in Missouri and elsewhere in the United States. After more than 20 years of advocacy, crime victim lawsuits have become some of the most feared by defense law firms and insurance companies.
After several years practicing law on his own, his son Joe joined him and they formed the firm Taylor & Taylor P.C.
Will retired in 2015 and now spends his ample free time with his 5 grand kids and traveling.