When Kara T. Stubbs found products-liability law as a young lawyer, she knew she met her match.
“I found the science fascinating — why a device was designed the way it was, why a child car seat was designed in a certain way,” she said.
In nearly 26 years with Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice in Kansas City, she has created a products-liability practice that encompasses defense of pharmaceutical and medical-device manufacturers.
She said she enjoys taking a deep dive into the medicine and into a plaintiff’s experience with certain drugs and devices to figure out the potential causes of the plaintiff’s problems.
Stubbs also enjoys working with some of the leading experts in the various fields she represents and learning about the science behind the products.
“It’s so challenging, it’s so fun and it’s always so new,” she said. “I don’t feel like it’s always a cookie-cutter case. It’s kind of this great big puzzle that’s fun to figure out.”
Stubbs said her interest in becoming a lawyer began during her childhood. In high school, she took advantage of opportunities to meet with lawyers and sit in on meetings of a law club on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence in her hometown.
She went on to KU for her undergraduate degree and law degree. After graduating from law school in 1992, she clerked for Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas C. Clark, an experience she said was “probably the best thing I ever did.”
At the conclusion of trials, in the space between the defense resting and the case going into closing arguments, Clark closed off the courtroom and gave her 30 minutes to put on a closing for the case’s plaintiff or defendant, she said.
“He would sit in the jury box, and I would put on my close and he would critique that,” she said.
“ . . . It was an incredible education and the best gut check, validating I wanted to be a trial lawyer.”
Stubbs said the relationships she builds with her clients motivate her now.
“To me they are not companies. They are people who work extraordinarily hard,” she said. “They are all so committed to what they do for their company, it makes me want to be so committed to them, to get them the best result.”
Stubbs also is active in a number of legal organizations, and she is the chair of the board of directors for ALFA International, an international network of law firms.
But that’s not her first leadership role — early in her career, she served on the executive committee and became chair of the Young Lawyers’ Section of The Missouri Bar. She said that experience of networking with judges and peers continues to benefit her practice today.
She is also a volunteer for Lead to Read KC, a nonprofit organization which pairs elementary-school students with reading partners to promote early-childhood literacy.
She said it’s an issue close to her heart because her mother was a remedial English teacher.
“I feel like it’s a really great, hands-on way to make a difference in a child’s life,” she said.