He says he tried in vain for years to slow his medical malpractice defense work at Norris Keplinger Hicks & Welder before leaving April and joining Jay Daugherty Mediation and Arbitration of Kansas City. He was one of the law firm’s founders. Leaving was a tough decision.
“My attempts to cut back had been unsuccessful because people kept calling me, and I kept saying yes, so I decided it would be better to make a clean break,” said Keplinger, 70. “In my new role, I’ll be able to focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to keep 60 plates spinning at once.”
Growing up in Girard, Kansas, Keplinger was interested in medicine, but determined he was better suited to be a malpractice defense attorney than a doctor. It turned out to be a good decision.
Over his career he completed more than 150 multi-day jury trials with a 92 percent success rate.
In 2007, Keplinger appeared in two Missouri Lawyers Weekly statewide superlatives — the top 10 defense verdicts and the top 10 plaintiff’s verdicts.
“I thought it was unusual to be listed on both the top defense and plaintiff verdict lists at the same time,” he said.
Keplinger explained as a defense lawyer, he occasionally takes plaintiff’s cases, and in 2007 he received a big verdict for a physician plaintiff.
“In my former career, I felt if somebody had been mistreated and needed justice, and I didn’t have a conflict of interest, I was willing to represent them, even if they were on the plaintiff side.”
Keplinger was a Summerfield Scholar at the University of Kansas, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, history, and English Honors. He earned his law degree at Southern Methodist University where he was a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar.
He is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers.
Keplinger is grateful for his first job as a golf caddy, which taught him valuable life lessons.
“Golf brings out the best and the worst in personalities, and you learn a lot about people when you caddy for them,” he said.
And more than anything, Keplinger is grateful for his career.
I feel like I made the right career choice and I’m very happy,” he said. “Looking back over my career years as a defense lawyer, I feel gratified, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”