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E.E. Keenan, 34

E.E. KeenanPartner, Keenan & Bhatia

Location: Kansas City

Practice Areas: Employees’ rights and employment discrimination (plaintiff-side)

Law School: Harvard

In just a few short years of practice, E.E. Keenan has made a big impact in employment law.

Keenan and his wife, Sonal Bhatia, started their firm a month after they got engaged in 2012. In such a practice, Keenan said, “There are no hierarchies.”

Their approach has led to impressive results. In 2018, they won a $6.4 million verdict for a sales manager who was fired from a pharmaceutical company and a record-setting $8.5 million verdict for an African American woman who alleged discrimination by the gas company now known as Spire.

They also pursued a case on behalf of an unmarried woman who lost her job at a Catholic school after she became pregnant. Though unsuccessful, the suit is believed to be the first brought under a Missouri law that prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees for refusing to obtain an abortion.

What advice do you have for young lawyers?

Partner up with people who have skills you don’t have: Sonal is the most brilliant person I’ve ever met, and she teaches me new things constantly. Be collaborative, reach out for advice and bring people in. The practice of law is a team endeavor.

What inspired you to get involved in the legal profession?

My childhood mentor Albert Riederer, who was Jackson County prosecutor and a judge. I’ve always been upset by injustice, and particularly oppression of workers. We have an unequal society. I wanted to do something about that and empower workers. Albert showed me how law and political activism related to each other.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what profession would you have chosen?

I always wanted to be a lawyer! But if not, there’s a decent chance I would have become a Jesuit priest. There have been a number of Jesuits in my family, and I’m inspired by how priests sacrifice so much for the community.