Alumnus Focuses on Giving Back

School of Law selects Paul F. Kavanaugh to receive Alumni Award
Paul Kavanaugh
Paul Kavanaugh (J.D. '84)
Attorney, Rollins/Kavanaugh, PC

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2019, UMKC School of Law is honoring Paul F. Kavanaugh (J.D. ’84) with their Alumni Achievement Award.

As a trial lawyer specializing in medical malpractice, Kavanaugh has represented seriously injured clients for more than 30 years. As co-founder of the Kavanaugh Charitable Trust, started with his wife Debbie (B.S.P. ’85), he has funded elementary schools in Cambodia, donated wheelchairs to the underserved and created a scholarship for UMKC Law students. Kavanaugh spoke with us about his dedication to giving back.

How did you come to focus on medical malpractice/negligence as your field of specialty?

I started working with two prior UMKC School of Law Alumni Achievement Awardees, Lantz Welch (J.D. ’59) and James “Jim” Bartimus (J.D. ’77), as a law student. Jim specialized in medical negligence and I was drawn to it because of its complexity and the fact that it was considered one of the hardest areas to win at as a trial lawyer.

Through the trust, you’ve funded schools, clinics and roads in developing countries, donated wheelchairs and created scholarships at UMKC. Why is it important to you to give back?

We started the trust with two goals: to support higher education with scholarships for students in need at all of my colleges and both our professional schools (Debbie was the Alumni Achievement Awardee previously for the UMKC School of Pharmacy), and provide wheelchairs to mobility impaired people around the world. Both Debbie and I know that if we did not get our educations we would not be where we are or able to give back.

What advice do you have for UMKC students who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

Find out what you what to do and never quit. I was told “no” for student intern jobs by over a dozen firms. If I would have gotten any of those jobs, I would not be where I am.

About the UMKC Alumni Awards

Kavanaugh will be honored at the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awards on March 15. Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards events have raised more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Published: Jan 24, 2019

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