Clay was recently elected as the 80th president of the Lawyers Association of Kansas City, a bar association known for attracting and developing community leaders, serving the bar and charitable causes, and providing first-class speakers and learning opportunities for its members and the community.
As a successful litigator and appellate lawyer for over 15 years, Clay is an experienced attorney who has deftly handled complex litigation for individuals, national and local banks, small businesses, and Fortune 100 companies. Although his practice is centered in Kansas and Missouri, he has litigated cases throughout the country.
Trusts and Estates Litigation
Clay represents corporate trustees, individual trustees, insurance companies and all types of beneficiaries in trust disputes, such as trust-agreement interpretation, testamentary-capacity challenges, determination of benefits and the enforcement of trust, will and life-insurance policy provisions.
Clay represents banks and other financial institutions in commercial foreclosures, lender-liability actions, consumer-credit litigation, trust disputes and a host of other matters, including claims arising under the Truth In Lending Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and various states' adoptions of the Uniform Trust Code.
Business, educational, and non-profit clients turn to Clay for a variety of business-litigation matters, including business torts and contract disputes. He defends against claims brought under consumer-protection laws, such as the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). He has also defended global corporations in high-stakes and complex product-liability litigation, including tobacco litigation and breast-implant cases throughout the country.
The Blue Valley Board of Education appointed Clay as a commissioner on the Blue Valley Recreation Commission in 2015, where he serves his community and the school district where all nine of the children he shares with his wife, Dr. Sherri Martin, either attend or graduated. In 2008, he was selected to participate in and graduated from Leadership Overland Park, a competitive leadership-development program through the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, and participated in the chamber’s Economic Development Council Summit in 2009. In the mid-2000s, Clay served five years on the governing council and three on the board of trustees of the Church of the Resurrection, now the largest United Methodist congregation in the world at 20,000+ members. The organization elected him chairman of the council, a role in which he served for three years, and the Board elected him president of the organization for an unprecedented two terms.
He has been a planning-committee co-chair for the annual Stems event held at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens benefiting the Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park, led a foreign-policy group through the Foreign Policy Association and the International Relations Council for many years, and is a long-time team leader and former Kansas City chair for the annual Skippy & Skivvies Drive to benefit Operation Breakthrough. He and his wife are also ardent supporters of the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center in Overland Park and the related Tiny Tim Holiday Fantasy Gala held each Fall.
In 2003, Clay received the Lawyers Association of Kansas City’s prestigious Public Service Award for dedication to charitable, professional and community service.
Leader of the Bar
As President of the Lawyers Association of Kansas City, Clay launched an aggressive agenda of member outreach, first-class programming, foundation growth, and organization re-structuring by capitalizing on the LAKC’s storied history and developing relevant and meaningful opportunities for its members to serve and prosper in the community. The LAKC is widely known for its service-oriented projects that promote the philanthropic and community-bettering aspects of its lawyer members, such as hosting the annual Run for Justice 5K to benefit Legal Aid, the popular annual LAKC Golf Tournament benefiting a variety of charitable causes, and next year’s state championship rounds of the Missouri High School Mock Trial Competition. Clay has been a barrister in the Earl E. O’Connor Inn of Court in Johnson County, Kansas, and his other bar-related memberships include the Johnson County Bar Association, Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, American Bar Association, and Kansas Bar Association, where he served for three years on the Legislative Committee.
Before joining Shook, Hardy & Bacon in 1999, Clay achieved top national honors during a successful career as a senior account executive and field sales manager with Pitney Bowes, Inc. While there, he studied law at Loyola and also taught street law as adjunct professor at Lane Technical High School in Chicago.
Hudson v. UMB Bank, N.A. , 447 S.W.3d. 714 , 2014 WL 4192741 (Case No. WD77008) (Mo. App. W.D. Aug. 26, 2014). Serving as first-chair trial attorney, Clay won a trial-court victory in defending against claimants’ attempts to remove trustee and reform trust agreements. Clay then successfully briefed and argued on behalf of his client when plaintiffs appealed. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed.
U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Wild, 340 S.W.3d 139 (Mo. App. S.D. 2011). The joint-defense defense team selected Clay to take on oral-argument responsibilities for the appeal of this action, which sought to prevent trust disbursements to beneficiary. After Clay's argument, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s adverse judgment and directed the trial court to enter declaratory judgment in client’s favor.
Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Sumner, 44 Kan. App. 2d 851 (2010). As lead counsel, Clay secured summary judgment that granted client full relief on its claims, dismissal of appellant’s counterclaims, and an award of more than $200,000 in discovery sanctions in this mortgage-foreclosure action. Clay took lead on the appellate-court briefing and oral argument, and the Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed the result.
Cottey College v. The School of the Ozarks, Inc. , 299 S.W.3d 767 (Mo. App. S.D. 2009). In the Missouri Court of Appeals, Clay successfully briefed and argued the appeal to obtain a favorable ruling that upheld the win he and his team obtained in the trial court where they had defeated a testamentary-capacity challenge and attempts to adversely interpret trust documents.
Robison v. Bd. of County Commrs. Of Rush County, 151 P.3d 864 (Kan. App. 2007). In both the trial court and the Kansas Court of Appeals, Clay successfully defended a law-enforcement officer’s right to conduct background checks on an individual not suspected of any specific crime, so long as officer has legitimate purpose for doing so.
Sprague v. Household Int’l, 473 F. Supp. 2d 966 (W.D. Mo. 2005). After lengthy and arduous briefing, Clay successfully defended the use of an arbitration clause in client’s loan documents in obtaining dismissal of federal-court action. Clay and his colleagues obtained a full victory after a three-day arbitration hearing.