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WJA 2022: Joan Sheridan

Joan SheridanFranke Schultz & Mullen

“I was working in Human Resources, right out of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in anthropology,” says Joan Sheridan. “My boss was very good at figuring out people’s skill sets and career paths. She suggested I go to law school. I applied and was accepted. She told me: ‘If you don’t go now, you’ll probably never do it.’ So I went to law school.”

Sheridan earned her JD from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. While in law school, she became a U.S. citizen. “My parents are Irish, and I was born in Ireland,” she says. “I understand the entire U.S. citizenship process because I had to go through it.”

Today, Sheridan is a partner in her firm. She specializes in commercial and business litigation, premises liability, employment litigation, insurance defense litigation, personal injury defense, and trucking and automobile litigation. In the courtroom and in mediation, she has obtained numerous victories.

“At Franke Schultz & Mullen, I have many opportunities to grow as an attorney,” she says. “I have the benefit of working with some of the brightest and most skilled trial attorneys in Missouri and Kansas. They set a great example of how to practice law.”

One of her most memorable cases settled on a Friday afternoon before the trial was to begin on Monday. She was representing a nonprofit organization that operated a residential group home for young adults who were coming out of the juvenile system or the state’s custody and transitioning to adulthood. The case involved two boys who got into a physical fight. The plaintiff sued the nonprofit, and the nonprofit had never been sued before.

“We tracked down residents who were living in the home at the time of the fight,” Sheridan says. “We learned that the fight had been staged for social media, and we found the boy who made the video. When opposing counsel heard this, she settled for the original offer we had come to during mediation.”

One of Sheridan’s passions is mentoring younger attorneys. She serves as co-chair of the firm’s lawyer recruiting committee. She also leads her firm’s mentoring program, helping new associates to acclimate to the firm and to the practice of law. Associates are required to join the firm’s kickball team, and she serves as team captain. Under her leadership, their team won league championships in 2016, 2020 and 2021.

Sheridan’s volunteer activities for the Association of Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City (AWL) focus on helping women and girls. She assists with resume workshops, mock job interviews, and appropriate clothing for job interviews. She is also part of the Connections Group for young female attorneys. She enjoys participating in the K–12 reading buddies program and talking to groups about the legal profession.

“In the practice of law, I’m courteous and professional, even when the other side isn’t,” Sheridan says. “You can still be an effective attorney and help your clients with that mindset. You don’t have to be tough and aggressive to succeed.”

Women's Justice Awards 2022