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WJA 2022: Chelsea McClain Pierce

Chelsea McClain PierceHumphrey, Farrington & McClain

“Throughout my law career, the common denominator is that I’m not afraid to innovate where a system or process isn’t in place,” says Chelsea McClain Pierce. There is sufficient evidence to support her statement.

After earning her JD from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, Pierce was hired as an assisting prosecuting attorney with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. She was the founding attorney for the grant-funded cold case unit. “I developed the entire unit,” she says. “I began in the crime lab, categorizing all the evidence still available. For several months, I created a database from scratch. Then we used the evidence to provide the framework for deciding which cases we should pursue as a unit.”

Pierce also developed all the processes for working with the Kansas City Police Department and the Kansas City Crime Lab. The creation, development and implementation of the databases led to the prosecution and conviction of a rapist.

In her current practice, Pierce specializes in multi-party litigation and organizes cases involving hundreds of different plaintiffs and claimants. She has significant experience in both litigation and arbitration proceedings and has represented clients across the country in personal injury and employment actions. She is a shareholder with her firm.

Pierce was part of the trial team for a protracted set of arbitrations against DST Systems in Kansas City. Her tenacity and organizational skills served the team well in keeping up with scheduling, deadlines, conference calls, expert reports and hearing dates for more than 400 arbitrations. Opposing counsel included four different law firms — two of which have more than 500 lawyers — and arbitrators across the country. Her innovative ideas for moving the claims forward ensured wins at a startling rate and helped their clients get the justice they deserved.

“During the pandemic, we created a completely new forum of multi-party Zoom arbitrations,” Pierce says. “We were able to try hundreds of arbitrations at a time when all other litigation was effectively stalled. It was thrilling to be able to do that for our clients.”

Pierce’s father is one of the partners in her firm and a trial attorney. She grew up watching him help his clients and advocate on their behalf in the courtroom. She is the oldest of six children, and five of them have gone to law school. Three of the six plus her brother-in-law currently work in her firm.

“My parents were fond of saying that to whom much is given, much is required,” Pierce says. “My siblings and I use that as a guidepost.”

One of Pierce’s favorite achievements is earning the Chef de Cuisine designation from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. Her father refers to her as Chef-at-Law.

Giving back to her community is a top priority for Pierce. She serves as a board member with Independence Square Association; board member for Peace Pathways, which is developing The Peace Pavilion children’s museum; board member for the Music Arts Institute; and on the alumni board of Graceland University, her alma mater.

Women's Justice Awards 2022