Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Don't miss
Home / Supplements and Special Sections / WJA 2018 / Litigation Practitioner: Nikki Cannezzaro

Litigation Practitioner: Nikki Cannezzaro

Franke Schultz & Mullen

Nikki Cannezzaro lives to try cases.

The partner with Franke Schultz & Mullen has been in her role for 17 years, during which she’s won nearly 50 jury trials ranging from products- and premises-liability cases to multiple-fatality trucking and automobile accidents.cannezza-nikki-003

“I tell everybody, if I could get the role of just coming in and trying cases and not having to do everything in between, that would be my ideal job,” Cannezzaro said with a laugh, adding she enjoys the adrenaline and excitement that comes with the job.

Cannezzaro has a reputation for not backing down from a challenge, even when the clock is against her, having taken on several big-stakes cases just days before trial and winning. She’s well-respected by her peers and has been the recipient of many awards and appointments.

She has received: The prestigious Thomas J. Conway Award from the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, recognizing outstanding trial skills coupled with the ability to be a fierce advocate and a good friend to opposing counsel at the same time; the Lon O. Hocker Memorial Trial Lawyer Award from The Missouri Bar Foundation, recognizing unusual proficiency in the art of trial advocacy; and the Donald J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award, recognizing outstanding achievement in appellate advocacy.

She is the secretary for the Western Missouri/Eastern Kansas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, past president of the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, past president of the Diversity Section of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, and current president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

Unique for the volume of cases she’s tried in the civil arena, Cannezzaro spends a lot of time building relationships with her peers across the state. She’s made it a personal goal to bring awareness to the significant disparity in the number of women who serve as lead trial counsel in comparison to their male counterparts. She said she can recall only one occasion when her opposing counsel was a woman.

Working collectively with fellow attorneys and judges, Cannezzaro is exploring ways to narrow that gap. She recognizes change has to start within the system, which will lead to clients thinking differently about women in such roles as well.

“There’s no reason for that other than that’s the way it is,” she said. “History continues to dictate the way it goes, so until we continue to recognize women for their trial skills, I don’t know that things will change.”