Ricket Law Firm
Ashley Ricket still recalls the time when, as a young child, she first said she wanted to be a lawyer.
“Somebody laughed at me. I’m not quite sure who it was, but they joked and said ‘Well, good luck with that,’” she remembered. “From that point forward, when somebody tells me that something shouldn’t be within reach, I make it within reach.”
Recently, a lot of things have come within reach for the University of Missouri-Kansas City grad who started her own firm in 2016 just two and a half years after making partner at Dollar, Burns & Becker. Practicing primarily in nursing-home and day-care abuse and neglect cases, she has made a name for herself by giving voice to those who all too often go unheard.
Ricket faces a tough challenge this year. Her client, a minor, was the victim of sexual abuse at a public elementary school.
The school argues that it is protected under sovereign immunity. The Court of Appeals Western District agreed. Last year, it ruled that political subdivisions such as schools can’t be sued under Missouri’s Human Rights Act.
For most cases, the Court of Appeals is the end of the line. But Ricket asked the Missouri Supreme Court to intervene, and the court took the case. A decision is expected later this year.
In 2012, Missouri Lawyers Media named her a Rising Star in its annual Women’s Justice Awards and included her on its statewide list of “Up and Coming” lawyers.
“I started the firm to help people,” said Ricket, a native of Overland Park who counts Ruth Bader Ginsburg among her heroes.
“That’s what I identify with, people who don’t have much recourse, so they need somebody like me to speak for them.”
She said starting her own firm wasn’t easy but, as always, she enjoys the challenge.
“It’s been hard, but it is rewarding because that’s exactly what I wanted,” she said, laughing. “I wanted to call the shots. I wanted to know what it was like because all the attorneys I worked with talked about it. They were like, ‘When I started my firm . . .’ I just really wanted to be like them and speak about the same experiences.”
She said she believes she can make a difference by educating institutions and shining a light on practices and problems of which the care facilities may not even be aware.
“I feel like in each case, we can at least make a small difference by doing that and showing them what should be done in the future to prevent these things from happening. But also at the end of the case we also try to get some sort of policy implemented or agreed upon to be changed so that the facility can be better off from that point forward,” she said.
Above all, she said she ensures she is well-versed in the case by the time she enters a courtroom and has read all she can about a matter before proceeding to trial. The important thing is to ensure no stone is left unturned.
“I want to make sure I know everything when I’m going into a case,” she said. “Knowledge is power. I always feel the most comfortable when I’m the most prepared.”
And as befits any legal champion, she never forgets why she is there.
“I just put the weight of my clients on me,” she said. “They tell me what happened as far as they know and I have to figure it out from there.”
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