Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Tribute to Kansas City's Women Trial Lawyers

When I got out of law school,almost thirty years ago, there were few female role models that I admired.  I wanted to be a trial lawyer, and there were few women trial lawyers, especially women lawyers, in Kansas City.  Most female lawyers back then, and for years after, female lawyers tended to safer routes, with guaranteed salaries and little trial forays. The women who tried cases were oftentimes government employees, prosecutors and public defenders, who got paid regardless of the outcome of a trial. However, I was lucky.  Martha Hickman, a maverick, took me under her wing, and let me try my first jury trial. Of Mentors, Mavens and Mavericks.  That was 1984. There were few women plaintiffs' lawyers who first-chaired trials at that time.  

Happily, in recent years, more and more women have braved the travails of a true trial practice.  I am honored to be in their presence. We, in law, as in other professions, have self-congratulatory awards engineered by marketers to "honor" those in our profession. We have "Super Lawyers" and Best of the Bar," which remind me of popularity contests, sometimes with little regard for true grit. 

I decided, in this blog entry, to honor those women in our profession who I have personally seen demonstrate true courage and refusal to defer to traditional firms and authority figure.  Here is my list:

1.   Martha Sperry Hickman - the only true female role model I had in 1983.  A daughter of a judge who did not cow to the norms of the 20th Century and who is still in practice, on her own after 50 years. 

2.  Marie Gockel, my sister in the practice of law, both in law school and in practice.  She has been my law partner since 1995, since the formation of our firm. She is the bulldog of our practice.  When she gets a hold of a case, she does not let go. 

3.  Kristi Kingston, my other law partner who has been with our firm since 1996, with debate and trial advocacy accolades pre-dating her work for us. She has courageously tried cases, both good and bad, with remarkable results. 

4.  Denise Henning - Denise, of the Henning Law Firm, has been both courageous in the courtroom and in all aspects of her life. She is truly a role model and an amazing person. She is amazing. 

5.  Nancy Kenner - who left the comfort of a big firm to make a difference on her own terms. She is a leader. 

6.  Amy Coopman - not afraid to throw herself fully into controversial cases and gives her heart and soul to her clients. 

7.  Amy Maloney - who is in trial as I write this. She works hard and goes where the. More timid among us are afraid to tread. I admire her willingness to fight, regardless of whether she ruffles good ole boy feathers. 

8.  Anne Schiavonne - who left the security of a big firm to co-found one of the most successful plaintiffs' firms in Kansas City.  She is a powerhouse. 

9.  Phyllis Norman Komoroski - a powerful young lawyer who is just fearless.  She makes me laugh. 

10.  Karen Howard - She is a pit bull, thorough, tough and courageous. She doesn't get enough credit.  

It is so good to see these powerful women who are also powerful trial lawyers. What great role models!


  1. The women on this list are true trial lawyers - very comfortable and effective in the courtroom. They do not receive the recognition they deserve. Great post.

    Brandon Boulware

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