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WJA 2021: Nichelle L. Oxley

Nichelle Oxley is now a shareholder and personal injury litigator at Humphrey, Farrington & McClain. It’s the same firm where she used to clerk.

oxley“I didn’t want to be a litigator,” says Nichelle Oxley. “The very first day of my clerkship, I was bitten by the litigation bug. I went home saying that I had to be a trial attorney.”

Oxley handles products liability, chemical exposure, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, motor vehicle accidents, trucking law and pharmaceutical liability cases. She has authored appellate briefs in the Missouri District Courts and in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

“Our firm tries more cases than many firms in the nation,” she says. “I found what I want, and I’m holding on to this.”

Early in her career, her firm teamed up with two other Kansas City plaintiff firms to try a breach of contract case in New York City.

“Everything was very exciting in downtown Manhattan,” she said. “I got to see how different law firms work and collaborate together to get a result. I stayed up all night, every night for two weeks. That was valuable trial experience, and I learned from some of the best litigators.

During her first time in New York, the team received a verdict for $60 million.

In her first case to first chair, Oxley “handled everything from beginning to end.” Her client had a criminal record from 20 years prior to his injury. The defense refused to offer him a dime and thought the jury wouldn’t give him anything, since he had less than $15,000 in medical expenses.

“At trial, the defense tried to paint him as a bad person,” she says. “The jury saw that he wasn’t. It was rewarding to be able to go to bat for him.”

They received a $235,000 verdict.

“Our firm takes cases that others don’t want,” Oxley says. “Just because a case isn’t presented to us wrapped up with a bow doesn’t mean we should turn it down. Those people need representation also. We take them across the finish line when other firms don’t want to touch them.”

“I’m the person in the office who helps with every trial I can,” she adds. “Often when I go into the courtroom, I’m the only woman there.”

Oxley thrives on encouraging other female lawyers and serves as a mentor through the Association of Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City. Four years ago, when she attended a CLE for female litigators, she met several young female Kansas City plaintiff attorneys there.

She later contacted them and started a monthly gathering where they talk and share. They also use an email chain to help one another with cases. Since they began gathering, several have gotten married, had children and become partners in their firms.

“I remain hopeful for the future of women in the legal profession,” she says. “We need more women in the courtroom.”

Women's Justice Awards 2021

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