John Franke and John Schultz, friends since their college days at the University of Missouri-Columbia, shared a vision to have a trial practice law firm that aggressively defended cases in a cost efficient manner. In 1992, they left their positions at large law firms to form Franke & Schultz, P.C. and opened the firm's office in the Commerce Tower in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Within weeks, the Martindale-Hubbell national rating service for attorneys awarded John Franke and John Schultz with "AV" ratings, the highest ratings available for legal ability and ethical standards.
Demand for the firm's services exceeded expectations and by the summer of 1992, John Mullen was hired as the firm's first associate. John began developing the firm's practice in Southwest Missouri and by 1993 he was representing insurance carriers in personal injury and insurance coverage litigation throughout Missouri. In 1994, Brad Nielsen left another large Kansas City law firm to join the firm. Brad's trial practice soon began to grow and the first of several office expansions was underway. Ryan Karaim, who had earned a reputation as an aggressive and skilled trial lawyer, moved his practice to the firm in 1994. The AM Best Directory added Franke & Schultz, P.C. to its list of Recommended Insurance Attorneys in 1994.
By the late 1990s, the firm's attorneys were litigating and trying lawsuits to jury verdicts throughout Missouri and Kansas. The firm's docket in Southwest Missouri continued to grow and a decision was made to open a Springfield, Missouri office.
The firm's recruiting efforts continued, as the firm realized that more experienced trial lawyers were needed to satisfy its growing client base. To that end, Jill Frost Smith joined the firm in 1996. Jill's representation of Phillips Petroleum, Shell Oil Company and Conoco-Phillips added to the firm's growing list of corporate clients, which by that time included Ford Motor Credit, Marriott International, Domino's Pizza and Durham School Services. Keith Cary brought 15 years of trial experience to the firm when he joined the partnership in 1997. The firm was chosen as one of the top firms in the United States by the American Lawyer Magazine that year based on the "Client's Choice" Survey, which asked 400 companies which firms they would select for service, quality and value.
As the firm began to handle more complex litigation, including product liability and construction defect cases, the firm looked to Mike Tubbesing to direct that litigation. Mike's background as an Aerospace Engineer and experience testing Advanced Cruise Missiles for the United States Air Force made him the ideal lawyer to handle cases involving engineering issues.
Nikki Cannezzaro was working as a law clerk for the Honorable Robert Ulrich on the Missouri Court of Appeals when the firm approached her to join the firm as an appellate specialist. Nikki's practice quickly expanded beyond appellate work to include a very active and successful trial practice. Nikki's success as a trial lawyer resulted in her election to the partnership in 2005.
The year 2002 marked the 10-year anniversary of the firm and in recognition of the tremendous contribution John Mullen had made to the success and growth of the firm, John became a principal in the firm and the firm's name changed to Franke, Schultz & Mullen, P.C. The firm was now one of the Top 25 law firms in Kansas City, as announced by the Kansas City Business Journal.
By 2006, Franke, Schultz & Mullen had grown to a total of 23 lawyers in its two offices and employed a professional support staff of 30, but the firm's focus continued to be on client service. The BTI Consulting Group in Massachusetts issued the Client Relationship Scorecard for Law Firms, based on a national survey of Fortune 1000 managers who hire law firms. Franke, Schultz & Mullen was recognized in this survey as "One of the Top Performing Law Firms in the United States." The firm was also selected in the categories of "Best Client Service", "Best at Keeping Clients Informed" and "Best Regional Reputation."
After almost a year of renovations, the firm's Kansas City office relocated from its downtown office to its own building located in south Kansas City at 8900 Ward Parkway in late 2006. In 2007, the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation recognized Franke Schultz & Mullen, PC with a Cornerstone Award, a program that was started more than 20 years ago to recognize the best of Kansas City's economic development projects, for the renovation of its new office.
Partners in the firm have successfully tried more than 400 civil trials to a jury verdict. Each of the partners spend time each year educating other attorneys by speaking at continuing education programs and have published books on topics ranging from Evidence to Trial Practice to Proper Handling of Insurance Claims. Today, 22 years after its inception, the firm has grown to a total of 30 lawyers in three offices across the state of Missouri, but our firm's philosophy remains the same - aggressive representation of defendants in civil litigation in a cost efficient manner - a philosophy that will remain intact for the next 22 years and beyond.