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WJA 2022: Crystal Cook Leftridge

Crystal Cook LeftridgeStueve Siegel Hanson

Holding corporate America accountable is one of the driving forces for Crystal Cook Leftridge in her career. “I get the most fulfillment out of cases that make a direct impact on my clients’ lives,” she says. “Cases that get them the wages they earned or paid back for the harm caused by a defective device or pharmaceutical drug. Each case brings its unique challenges and legal questions.”

Leftridge’s path to her legal career began with an internship and then a full-time position at the White House in Washington, D.C. She worked in the Office of the Vice President as executive assistant for the Office of Mrs. Cheney for two years. When she decided to stay in D.C., she worked in government relations for a law firm. Those experiences inspired her to enter the University of Kansas School of Law, where she earned her JD.

Today, Leftridge is an attorney handling her firm’s most complex litigation. Her practice areas are mass torts — defective devices and pharmaceuticals, and employment — wage and hour. As part of the mass tort litigation team, she represents clients against pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies for alleged drug side effects or product defects. She has handled large-scale class action lawsuits and mass tort actions against Taxotere, Risperdal and others. She is part of a team representing U.S. service members and veterans who suffered hearing loss following the use of allegedly defective earplugs that a company knowingly distributed to the military.

One of her favorite moments as an attorney was during her first federal trial in Phoenix, Arizona. “I was brought on to support our trial team,” she recalls. “I ended up putting on a plaintiff during trial. As a younger associate, this was a wonderful learning experience for me.”

One hallmark of her practice was the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) litigation against DIRECT TV. The case was decertified. “Not moving forward with the litigation would have been the easiest thing to do,” she says. “But we refiled hundreds of individual wage and hour cases in 42 states. Litigating on behalf of plaintiffs across the country was a lot of work. After 10 years of litigation, it ended in a favorable resolution. We successfully settled the final case in 2021.”

Leftridge extends her desire to make a difference in others’ lives to her activities outside the law office and courtroom. She frequently presents on legal career options to students in her hometown of Hays, Kansas, and at her alma mater schools, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) and the University of Kansas School of Law. She also serves as an adjunct professor at FHSU, teaching a course on American civil liberties. She tutors elementary school students through Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance.

“Our firm provides extremely high-quality representation,” Leftridge says. “Our clients are heard and involved in the litigation as it progresses. Being a contingency-based firm, we take high-risk cases. Providing our clients with high caliber work product gives more people access to justice each and every day.”

Women's Justice Awards 2022