“Believe in yourself. Embrace the community around you. Take advice from people you trust. Love what you do.”
In their own words
My business partner and I started our law firm immediately after law school. We weighed our job offers, met with our mentors, and then ultimately decided opening our own law firm was our dream. We met in law school and were members of UMKC School of Law’s nationally recognized Mock Trial Team. We started our contingency-based law firm with virtually no money in the bank (thanks Sallie Mae?), but knew we wanted to dedicate our firm to representing people who were physically injured, emotionally harmed, or have been financially taken. We met with hundreds of people just to remind them we were out of law school and practicing, licensed attorneys. We started off sharing an office; not an entire office with multiple rooms. We literally shared a 10×10 room in some office space in North Kansas City owned by one of our mentors. We then moved into separate offices in a building downtown. Last year, we moved to the plaza where we hope to call home for the foreseeable future.
It has now been almost three years since we opened our doors. We have obtained millions of dollars in judgments and settlements. We have expanded our practice to a national level. We represent close to 1,000 corn farmers in In Re: Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, which is a national litigation consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas and Minnesota state court. We represent hundreds of clients in In Re: Bard IVC Filter Products Liability Litigation and In Re: Cook Medical, Inc, IVC Filters Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, which are product liability cases against the manufacturers of IVC (inferior vena cava) filters. We also represent over a thousand clients who have suffered severe hernia mesh complications, including nerve damage, infections, rejection requiring revision surgery, bowel obstruction, hernia recurrence and many others against manufacturing companies Ethicon/Johnson & Johnson, Covidien/Medtronic, Atrium/Maquet/Getinge Group, and Davol/C.R. Bard. Our firm will be announcing another national venture we are extremely excited about in the next few weeks… more to come.
I have been named an “Up and Coming” lawyer of 2016 by Missouri Lawyers Weekly. Every year, the legal publication honors lawyers under the age of 40 in their first ten years of practice who are making outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Missouri and who show the potential to make a positive difference. Most recently, I was honored to be recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star.” This prestigious award is given to only 2.5 percent of lawyers practicing within the state.
I have also been very active in the legal community. I am active with the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Association for Women Lawyers, and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (“KCMBA”). I participate in the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College regional meetings/focus groups to grow my trial skills. I serve on the UMKC School of Law Young Alumni Board and am the Chair of the KCMBA Young Lawyer’s Section Public Service committee. In April, I oversaw a week-long telethon where hundreds of members of our community called in seeking free legal advice. I was also in charge of a Goldilocks Mock Trial for 4th and 5th graders at Crossroads Academy of Kansas City. Part of my role on the UMKC School of Law Young Alumni Board includes helping UMKC raise funds to provide lunches to the BAR examiners in July. My firm also hosts an event at Boulevard in August called “En Banc.” En Banc is a yearly social event to welcome the newly graduated class, and to bid farewell to the graduating class that is aging-out of the Young Alumni group. This event is also meant to help re-connect all our young alumni with their legal colleagues and former classmates. My firm also does at least one community service event each month. We have formed a group to walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and Making Strides breast cancer walks, cooked meals at the Ronald McDonald House, sponsored UMKC alumni events, participated as judges for mock trials at the federal and county courthouses and have spoken to law school students about their experiences.
The biggest privilege I have is working for people who need me to be a voice when they are not heard. Clients rarely come into our office because something good has happened to them. I tell each of them that I want their burden on my shoulders.
The Kansas City community is everything to me. It is a place I have succeeded, a place I have failed, a place I have met life-long friends and a place I will always cherish. I have lived in the Kansas City metropolitan area all my life, except for college. I am the son of two nurses, Jim and Lynn Kinsman. My parents divorced when I was 11 months old. I lived with my mother and brother in Brookside until I was 5 years old. I am a product of Brookside Day School, which used to sit in the lot now occupied by 51 Main Apartments. My mother moved us to Mission, Kansas when my brother and I reached elementary school. She weighed her options of sending us to private school in Missouri, but ultimately decided the public schools in Johnson County were the best fit for us, and for her financially.
I graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 2007. In college, I knew I wanted to practice law in Kansas City, so I attended UMKC School of Law where I received an emphasis in trial practice and litigation. Kansas City means the world to me because of the people I grew up with. I am fortunate enough to have grown up with people from diverse backgrounds. I grew up in an environment where differences, whether they be cultural, socioeconomic, or ideological, were embraced. The people I grew up with mean a lot to me because they shaped me to be tolerant and openly accept others. This was, and is, the norm for us. I carry those experiences every day in my practice. I also see those same characteristics in most of the people who live in our community, which is what makes Kansas City such a wonderful place to live and work. I feel like every person I represent is someone I could have grown up with and that they are special in their own unique way.
Although my family members have been dedicated to careers that concentrate on enriching the lives of everyday people in this community, I am a first-generation attorney. Throughout my life, I have not only enjoyed interacting with the people of this community, but I have been devoted to being a voice for others when they need it most. The heart of my practice consists of advocating for people when they have been wronged. My experiences with the people in our community led me to this profession.
A day in the life
We typically start by meeting about the day’s tasks at hand, and look 7-14 days ahead to make sure we are using our time efficiently. The legal world usually runs in 30-day increments in terms of written work (e.g. motion practice, discovery requests, answers and responses). We always look ahead to determine the importance of the day. After a morning meeting, I usually respond to any outstanding emails and phone calls that I could not respond to the day before. The rest of my day is filled with written work mentioned above and corralling and reviewing client’s files for our mass tort cases. Some days are spent networking during breakfast or lunch, or making calls to our national co-counsel. No matter how busy I am, I always make room to read Ink Magazine and the Kansas City Star
I would like to be known as someone who not only did well, but did good. Sure, I want to have a successful career and keep Krause & Kinsman’s doors open until my business partner and I retire. We are building our business in hopes it will become a household name for decades to come. We truly believe we can achieve this. But we also truly believe we can have a positive impact on the Kansas City community. Whether it is cooking a meal for the families at Ronald McDonald House, raising money for and walking in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk or The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, or even starting our own foundation, we have made it a priority to better the community at large.
I have learned that all successful people are privileged with one thing in common: great mentors. People who struggle tend to not have a positive influence early on that they can look up to. They lack the opportunity to observe what it takes to rebound after failure, how to persevere, make an educated decision after careful evaluation, or simply receive positive encouragement. Many young people do not even have access to positive leadership. I’d like to be remembered for always having an open door to the younger generation. I would not be in the position I am today if it weren’t for the people I looked up to. Strong role models have played a pivotal role in my growth and development. If I can be a personal advocate in someone’s life, then I know I will leave this earth with a smile on my face.
In college, I came close to transferring to culinary school. I may have watched too many Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episodes. I have always had a passion for traveling, cooking, and eating. Cooking is my favorite hobby outside of work. I viewed the culinary world as a way to learn about new cultures and ideals. I continue to follow Kansas City’s food scene. There are so many great chefs and restaurants in our community. My favorite spots include Rieger, Happy Gillis, Osteria Il Centro, Eddie V’s, Joe’s Kansas City, and The Peanut. There are plenty of restaurants out there on my list to try.
Believe in yourself. Embrace the community around you. Take advice from people you trust. Love what you do.
You will fail or become discouraged a time or two early in your career. That is part of life. You will need guidance. Our community offers numerous networking opportunities that can be taken advantage of. Look to those who have the life or job you want. Reach out to them. Every bit of knowledge you obtain will guide your life’s goals. Never pass up a chance to learn even if it costs you in the short-term. There are plenty of people I have come across that have not found a career they are passionate about because they have not taken risks. Do not be afraid to look outside of your comfort zone to discover new opportunities.