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John R. Phillips

John R. Phillips

Senior Counsel
Kansas City
office: 816.983.8119
fax: 816.983.8080

As a labor and employment attorney, John counsels hospitals and health systems, boards of directors, general counsels and chief executive officers (CEOs), as well as human resource executives, on employment matters and traditional labor relations.

In addition, John has recently devoted a large portion of his practice to serving as neutral mediator or arbitrator in complex healthcare matters, as well as commercial, securities, product liability, employment and class action cases. John’s industry experience includes:

  • 20 years’ experience handling nearly 300 medical malpractice defense cases.
  • Mediating pharmaceutical and health insurance matters.
  • Serving as employment counsel for Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City for 30 years.
  • Serving as employment counsel for a Kansas City-based pediatric hospital for 20 years.

John also defends Midwestern companies on a national basis in class and collective actions, as well as individual discrimination cases, governmental and regulatory actions. His deep experience achieves favorable outcomes in collective bargaining negotiations of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).




  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, 2010-2016
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Arbitration, Employment Law-Management, Labor Law-Management, Litigation-Labor & Employment, Mediation, 1993-2019; Kansas City Mediation "Lawyer of the Year," 2012, 2014; Kansas City Arbitration "Lawyer of the Year," 2015
  • Chambers USA, Labor & Employment Law, 2003-2017; Eminent Practitioner, 2018
  • International Relations Council, Mike Wood Presidential Citation of Merit, 2010
  • Kansas City Business Journal, Best of the Bar, 2002-2012
  • The National Law Journal, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Champion, 2016
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
  • Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2005-2018; Top 100, 2005-2011, 2013-2014, 2018; Top 50 Kansas City, 2005-2009, 2011, 2014; Top 10, 2006


  • J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law
    • cum laude
      • Order of the Coif
      • Honorary barrister
      • Missouri Law Review, editor-in-chief
  • Peking University Law School Summer Program, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Oxford Summer Law Program, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • B.S., University of Missouri-Columbia
    • cum laude


  • Missouri
  • U.S. District Court, District of Kansas
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • AAA Complex Commercial and Employment Law Arbitration/Mediation Panels, 1990-present 
  • American Bar Association, Asia-Pacific Mediation Leadership Conference, co-chair, Hong Kong, 2013
  • American Bar Association, Dispute Resolution Section, 2000-present; chair, 2012-2013
  • American Bar Foundation, fellow 
  • American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, fellow 
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, fellow
  • College of Commercial Arbitrators, fellow
  • CPR/CCPIT U.S.-China Mediation Panel, 2006-present
  • CPR National Panel of Neutrals, 2000-present 
  • Cy Pres Committee on Funding for Missouri Legal Services Programs, 1998-present 
  • Dalkon Shield Arbitration Panel, 1992-2004 
  • Global Kansas City Commission, 2006-2010
  • International Academy of Mediators, distinguished fellow
  • International Relations Council, Board of Directors, 2002-2010
  • Kansas City Chinese American Association, 2009-present
  • Kansas City Labor-Management Council, Executive Board, 1996-present 
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association; Labor Law Committee, 1980-present; Managing Partners Committee, chair, 1998-2002; ADR Committee, chair, 2002
  • Merrill Lynch Sex Discrimination Claim Resolution Process, 2004-2007
  • Missouri 16th Judicial Circuit Case Management Committee, 2004-2009
  • The Missouri Bar, Labor and Employment Committee and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, 1986-present
  • Missouri Supreme Court Automation Committee, 1998-2002
  • Missouri Supreme Court Commission on Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2008-present
  • National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals; charter member, 2010-present; Missouri Chapter, charter member, 2012
  • Quintiles Institutional Review Board, 1990-2009
  • Shanghai International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Panel of Arbitrators, 2012-2015
  • Society for Human Resource Management, State Council Legislative Affairs director, 1990-present 
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Bloch School of Business, Human Resources Advisory Council , 1996-2011 
  • U.S. District Court Early Assessment Program, Mediation and Arbitration Panels, 1992-present 
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, Civil Justice Advisory Committee, 1992-1994
  • Defended in nearly 300 medical malpractice cases over the past 20 years.
  • Mediated pharmaceutical and health insurance matters.
  • Employment counsel for Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City for 30 years.
  • Employment counsel for a Kansas City-based pediatric hospital for 20 years.
  • Served on the Institutional Review Board for the pharmaceutical services company Quintiles Inc. for nearly 20 years.
  • Lead counsel in more than 30 jury trials, with more than 85 percent resulting in a defense verdict.
  • Counseled clients through numerous audits and compliance checks by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and avoided potential affected class findings with the OFCCP and the Department of Labor (DOL).
Community Leadership
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Kansas City, legal counsel
  • Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, 2001-present; vice president, 2000-present
  • Kansas City Industrial Council, legal counsel
  • Kansas University Research Institute, Board of Directors, 2007-2009
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Society of Fellows, Business Council Steering Committee, 2000-present; Art Advocates Steering Committee, 2006-2011
  • Saint Luke's Cardiovascular Consultants, Board of Directors, 2009-present; secretary, 2010-present
  • Saint Luke's Health System, Board of Directors, 2004-present; secretary, 2008-present
  • Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City, Board of Directors, 2000-present; secretary, 2008-present
  • Society for People’s Friendship with China, vice president, 2000-present
  • University of Missouri Board of Curators, 2013-present