“My grandfather was a fire chief,” says Karrie Clinkinbeard. “My dad is a fire chief. My nephew is a firefighter. I have uncles and cousins who are in fire service. I wasn’t willing to run into a burning building, so I became a fire lawyer.”
A partner in her firm, Clinkinbeard focuses on fire, explosion and electrocution litigation, toxic torts and catastrophic incidents, product liability, contract disputes, personal injury and life, health and disability matters.
She was co-lead counsel in Abbott v. Missouri Gas Energy, which arose out of an industrial furnace explosion. After a week-long trial, the jury returned a defense verdict — the largest defense verdict in Missouri for 2014.
A well-recognized attorney in fire litigation, Clinkinbeard has tried numerous jury cases to verdict in state and federal courts across the country. In addition, she is certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Fire Academy, as a Certified Instructor for fire litigation analysis and investigation and courtroom testimony courses.
One of her most interesting cases came early in her career, when she had just completed her JD from the University of Kansas School of Law. The case involved a release of natural gas in the Hutchinson, Kansas, area. “It was a geological phenomenon that was later featured on a Discovery Channel show,” she says. “Gas had migrated about seven miles, through geology, to the town. Nineteen lawsuits and two class actions resulted.”
Four of those cases went to trial, and Clinkinbeard was in court every day. “I learned litigation from the masters,” she says. “I managed thousands of pages of exhibits. I observed the questioning of witnesses. It was very hands-on for me.”
Described by many as a powerhouse in the courtroom, Clinkinbeard is also known as a woman lawyer who steps up for other women, for her community and for her firm. She has been recognized by her peers as a Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyer and Rising Star for 10 consecutive years.
For five years, Clinkinbeard served as the managing partner of Armstrong Teasdale’s Kansas City office. During that time, the office nearly doubled in size to 31 attorneys with all practice areas represented.
“Practicing law and doing administrative work at the same time is challenging,” she says. “I can’t take all the credit, but I met many of my goals as a leader. We have a fantastic team. In the COVID environment, it was a tremendous undertaking to move everyone out of the office, go remote, and then bring people back into the office. We remained productive, and we gave our employees the professional and personal resources they needed so they could do their jobs and be part of the team.”
Clinkinbeard strives to do everything she does within the legal community with civility. “It’s important to me to do the right thing,” she says. “Being an advocate for my clients without playing games or skirting the rules. Being civil to my opponents and people I’m deposing. I strive to approach every case and every opposing counsel in that manner.”