James A. Polsinelli, UMKC School of Law alumnus and renowned Kansas City attorney, donned the regalia of a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa at the School of Law commencement May 18, 2013.
Polsinelli was hooded by UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton and was introduced by School of Law Dean Ellen Suni in the following way.
Today we are presenting an honorary doctorate, a degree conferred as a means of honoring a distinguished individual’s contributions to a specific field and to the community.
UMKC School of Law has a longstanding commitment to law and entrepreneurship, and James A. Polsinelli has had an outstanding career both as an entrepreneurial lawyer, building his small firm into a national powerhouse, and as a lawyer for entrepreneurs. Mr. Polsinelli graduated with distinction from UMKC School of Law in 1967. He was a contributing editor to the UMKC Law Review and a member of the Order of the Bench and Robe. Now, after more than 40 years as a prominent attorney, recognized for building his own firm and helping clients to build their businesses, Mr. Polsinelli is here to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.
Mr. Polsinelli began his firm with two partners. Today, the firm, soon to be called simply “Polsinelli,” has offices in 16 major U.S. cities, employs over 600 attorneys, and is recognized as one of the top 100 firms in the country. From the outset, Mr. Polsinelli has an entrepreneurial spirit and enjoyed corporate law because it allowed him to add value to his clients’ businesses while maintaining relationships and working with clients on an ongoing basis. His extraordinary talents as a business lawyer and rainmaker substantially contributed to the growth and development of the firm, which represents its clients as Jim Polsinelli always has—with passion, ingenuity and a sense of urgency.
Jim Polsinelli has deep roots in and commitment to the Kansas City community, and this commitment extends to supporting important local educational institutions. In addition, he has made significant contributions through his leadership as chair of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the Jackson County Land Trust Commission. And his firm gives thousands of hours in pro bono legal and support service to those who cannot afford them. The name James Polsinelli has been synonymous with entrepreneurship in the Kansas City legal community for many years. As UMKC School of Law strives to become a leader in legal entrepreneurship, and as we work with the university and the community to make Kansas City the most entrepreneurial city in the country, Jim Polsinelli and his firm continue to play an important role in providing the legal expertise necessary to make that a reality.