Tristan focuses her practice in constitutional and energy law. In that capacity, Tristan prosecutes and defends challenges to state and federal legislation, leading the firm’s constitutional law efforts, and she leads the firm’s comprehensive national and international litigation involving the petroleum, natural gas and electric power industries.

Acting as lead counsel in energy-related litigation, Tristan defended companies in areas including product liability, environmental and toxic tort, antitrust, consumer fraud, and commercial disputes; she also leads federal and state governmental investigations and administrative proceedings.

Tristan advises international and national energy companies on climate change matters at the federal and state levels and is lead counsel in climate change litigation pending in federal and state courts.

With vast experience in class actions and multidistrict litigation, Tristan currently serves on a national MDL Joint Defense Steering Committee and routinely advises companies on effective risk management practices.

Tristan has spoken and published widely on these matters, and has been quoted in national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and ABA Journal. In 2013, the Association of Corporate Counsel recognized Tristan as a “Value Champion” for her “innovative, collaborative and savings-driven approach” to defending retailers and wholesalers in the nationwide “hot fuel” litigation. This defense work also garnered praise from The National Law Journal, which named her one of the nation’s top 50 Energy & Environmental Trailblazers in 2015, and Missouri Lawyers Media, which honored her as a 2013 Legal Champion. 

Representative Matters

Represented a homeowner in an appeal of a zoning board's ruling, where the Kansas Court of Appeals held that a lower court erred when it applied a reasonableness standard to review of the zoning board’s decision and that the correct standard of review for regulatory and statutory criteria is de novo. Layle. v. City of Mission Hills, Kansas, No. 116, 095 (Kan. Ct. App., Aug. 17, 2017).

Led a legal team representing 12 retailer and wholesaler defendants under an innovative joint litigation strategy where she tried and won unanimous defense verdicts in the first bellwether consumer fraud class action, and she made new case law with a resulting 10th Circuit decision, which established the “First Amendment Associational Privilege” against disclosure of petitioning strategies.

Served as lead counsel along with Laurence H. Tribe in Petrella v. Brownback, (USDC KS 10-cv-2661 JWL/KGG; 10th Cir. 11-3098), which involved a constitutional challenge to the Kansas school finance system and the state cap on local spending for public education.

Publications and Presentations

Class Action Settlements, DRI Class Actions Seminar: Latest Developments in Law and Practice, Washington, D.C., July 21, 2017.

Chair, National Foundation for Judicial Excellence Annual Symposium 2015.

A.J. Ferate, Tristan Duncan and the Hon. Patrick Morrisey, Energy Panel: The Illegality of the EPA’s Power Plan, Southern Republican Leadership Conference, May 23, 2015.

Tristan L. Duncan, Sheryll Cashin & Laurence Tribe, Getting the Best Education for All Our Kids: The Lawsuits That Could Transform American Public Schools, Aspen Institute Justice and Society Program, Sep. 30, 2014.

Chair, National Foundation for Judicial Excellence Annual Symposium 2014.

Tristan L. Duncan, Martin H. Redish, The Constitutional Limits on Class Action Lawsuits: The Scholar and Practitioner Perspective, DRI Class Actions Seminar, July 25, 2014.

Tristan L. Duncan, (Handi-)Capping Equality and Excellence: the Unconstitutionality of Spending Caps in Public Education, 45 The Urban Lawyer: The National Journal on State and Local Government Law, 183 (Winter 2013).

Tristan L. Duncan, The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change Litigation: How to Successfully Navigate the Shifting Landscape, The Legal Impact of Climate Change (Aspatore 2012).

Tristan L. Duncan, Commentary, Balancing power – lawyers, guns and money, The National Law Journal, Apr. 11, 2012. 

Tristan L. Duncan & Jonathan S. Massey, AEP’s Tipping Point: Implied Preemption of Climate-Change Common Law Claims, 179 Critical Legal Issues: Working Paper Series (Wash. Legal Found. Feb. 2012). 

Tristan L. Duncan, Manuel López & William F. Northrip, Tenth Circuit Limits First Amendment Privacy Rights for Advocacy Groups, 9:1 ABA Energy Committee Newsletter, Oct. 2011, at 7.

Laurence H. Tribe, Joshua D. Branson & Tristan L. Duncan, Too Hot for Courts to Handle: Fuel Temperatures, Global Warming, and the Political Question Doctrine, 129 Critical Legal Issues: Working Paper Series (Wash. Legal Found. Jan. 2010).

How Even the Faint of Heart Can Survive MDL, Wichita Bar Association CLE Symposium: The Medium is the Mess - iPractice in the e-Age, Apr. 23, 2010.

Tristan L. Duncan, William F. Northrip, & Kevin R. Corlew, Border Wars: Political Questions Presented by Common-Law Claims in Climate Change and Fuel Temperature Litigation, Energy Committees Newsletter (ABA Section of Env’t, Energy & Resources), Apr. 2010, at 10.

Constitutional Test Cases: Challenging the Constitutionality of Joint and Several Liability in Product Liability and Toxic Tort Litigation, Bacon Thomas CLE Presentation, Feb. 23, 2007.

Potpourri of Ethics Issues for the Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Attorney, American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, 15th Annual Spring Conference, Apr. 6-8, 2006.

Building the Reasonably Safe Product: The Impact of Product Liability Lawsuits on Manufacturers, Stinson Morrison Hecker Conference: Preventing Product Liability Litigation, Jan. 15, 2004.

State Tort Reform Update, National Propane Gas Defense Association Boston Conference, Apr. 17, 2002.

A Comparative Analysis of State Tort Reform: What’s Working and What’s Not, Product Liability and Product Safety Council of the Manufacturers Alliance (Captiva Island, Florida), Oct. 14-16, 1999.

Tristan Duncan, Narrative Jurisprudence: The Remystification of the Law, 7:1 The Journal of Law and Religion 105 (1989) (The Robert M. Cover Symposium).

Media Highlights

Andrew Strickler, Shook Hardy, Seyfarth, Among ACC’s Value Champs, Law360, Jun. 19, 2013. 

Scott Lauck, Hot Fuel Team: Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Legal Champions, Missouri Lawyers Weekly, Jan. 2013. 

Steve Vockrodt, Johnson County property owners’ lawsuit will challenge Kansas school financing, Kansas City Business Journal, Dec. 10, 2011.

Matt Campbell, ‘Armageddon’ scenario hangs over suit seeking to scrap local school spending cap, The Kansas City Star, Oct. 3, 2011.

Stephen Montemayor, Judge dismisses Shawnee Mission parents’ lawsuit, Shawnee Dispatch, Mar. 16, 2011.

Stephanie Simon, Judge Bars School Tax in Kansas, The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 11, 2011.

Stephen Montemayor, School lawsuit in national spotlight, Shawnee Dispatch, Feb. 23, 2011.

Judge: School Funding Injunction Ruling Likely In 2 To 3 Weeks, The Associated Press, Feb. 19, 2011.

Johnson Co. group takes school concerns to court, The Associated Press, Feb. 17, 2011.

Parents challenge state’s ed spending cap, The Associated Press, Feb. 15, 2011.

Mission Valley and Brookwood parents now pin hopes on federal lawsuit, Prairie Village Post, Dec. 14, 2010.

Beth Vaughn, Shawnee Mission School District faces lawsuit filed by angry parents, three days before final votes, ABC Action, Dec. 10, 2010.

Scott Rothschild, Vonnegut: Lawyers could use literary lesson, Lawrence-World Journal, May 5, 2005.