Skip to content
RDM's office in Kansas City, MO.

With hard work, a bit of luck, and the best staff in the business, and of course our happy clients, Rasmussen Dickey Moore has been able to sustain growth through turbulent times. We’ve established ourselves as a premier small firm in the fields we serve. We’ve expanded from a small office in Kansas City’s Westport District to three branches in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Los Angeles with nearly two dozen top-tier attorneys. We are truly thankful for the clients, attorneys, and staff who have brought us so far.

In 2021, RDM celebrated an exciting and impressive milestone—25 years in business! While the ongoing pandemic preempted a silver anniversary party, we still want to take some time to reflect on the past quarter century, from humble beginnings to where we are today.

Rasmussen & Barton

On November 1st, 1996, Kurt Rasmussen, George Barton, and a handful of other attorneys from the Watson & Marshall law firm (including Clayton Dickey and Steve Moore) opened Rasmussen & Barton. The newly established firm first hung their shingle at 21 West 43rd Street in the Westport District of Kansas City. Kurt’s now-retired secretary Anita Kuhn recalls that first office as “not too good.”

“Leaky roofs, crows in the parking lot, people sleeping in the dumpster, one nasty bathroom in the basement,” were some of the challenges Clay recollects from the first year on West 43rd Street. “Anita wore her rain gear and brought a fishing pole to work to mark the occasion of the leaks.”

RDM's first office at 21 West 43rd Street in Kansas City's Westport District.
Our firm’s first office at 21 West 43rd Street in Westport, Kansas City.

The staff initially consisted of four employees, including Anita and paralegal Charles Blaschke, who still works for the firm today. According to the first issue of the R&B newsletter in the winter of 1996, the firm started off with “Corel Word Perfect 7.0 and Microsoft Windows installed on three PCs and two laptops; two laser printers; Savin 9600 copy machine; postage meter; one facsimile machine; phone system with voicemail and cost accounting procedures; scanner with sheet feeder; and of course—the office pen.”

“That first year was scary,” Clay recalls. “We no longer had the safety nets associated with a large organization—health care, steady paycheck, rent, utilities, and overhead being paid for by someone else. We had to pay the rent, buy the office supplies, make payroll, and advance costs to clients.”

However, at the end of their first year in business, the attorneys and staff at the fledgling firm had faith in their future and each other. The firm moved to newer office space on Roanoke Road in Westport and renamed itself to Rasmussen Barton & Willis to recognize the achievements of Randy Willis in developing the firm.

When George Barton left the firm to pursue a solo practice, the name changed again, with a couple of attorneys who stuck it out from the beginning—Clay and Steve—adding their names to the sign, becoming Rasmussen Willis Dickey & Moore.

Invitation to a 1998 open house at the office of Rasmussen, Barton, & Willis.
RDM founding member Kurt Rasmussen in the firm's early days.
Kurt Rasmussen in the early years.
Rasmussen Willis Dickey & Moore's former office at 9200 Ward Parkway in Kansas City.
RWDM’s office at 9200 Ward Parkway.
2006 Kansas City Business Journal photo of Kurt Rasmussen, Virginia Giokaris, Steve Moore, and Clay Dickey.

Into the New Millennium

By 2001, the firm had outgrown its Roanoke Road office and relocated to 9200 Ward Parkway, securing two floors of space and some creature comforts for the growing roster of attorneys and staff. Rasmussen Willis Dickey & Moore would operate from this location for the next 15 years.

Rasmussen Dickey Moore

RDM founding member Clay Dickey and retired secretary Anita Kuhn at RDM's 20th anniversary party.
Clay Dickey and retired secretary Anita Kuhn.

2016 was a year of many milestones. The firm, stronger than ever, celebrated its 20th anniversary. The firm relocated its Kansas City headquarters to the present office in the Holmes Corporate Center at 1001 East 101st Terrace.

Also in 2016, longtime partner Randy Willis retired. With that, the firm again changed its name and became Rasmussen Dickey Moore, or RDM, as we’re known today.

How Did We Get Here?

“Luck,” says Kurt. While luck certainly plays a role in the success of any business, most anyone at RDM will say there’s more to it than that.

“Our mantra for the past 25 years has been, ‘There is no substitute for hard work,’” says Steve. “Hard work pulled the firm through tremendously challenging times—9/11, client bankruptcies, market crashes, and the current pandemic. There is no real mystery to creating a successful law firm. The harder you work, the more successful you will be.”

RDM founding members Steve Moore and Clay Dickey.
Steve Moore (left) and Clay Dickey (right).

Clay reiterates the value of hard work. “What sets us apart is dedication to representing our clients with zeal. We have an ethical duty to be zealous in our representation. We should never allow our adversaries (and our competition) to out-work us. Our clients pay us well to represent them and we owe them nothing short of our best foot forward in every case.”

“I’m confident our clients see that we care more than most about thinking outside the box and creatively thinking about how best to succeed in a case that is tailored to the peculiar facts of any given challenge. We come to work each day with enthusiasm and a willingness to do the best job you can for our clients. They deserve nothing less.”

Behind the luck and the hard work, of course, are people. Dozens of present and past attorneys and staff have dedicated their day-to-day lives to providing exemplary work and quality service to our clients for 25 years and counting.

Despite the constant work, Anita Kuhn recalls, “we always stopped for people. We take a moment to reflect, we celebrate each other, and we take time to help each other.”

The Army National Guard Team Medal presented to Rasmussen Dickey Moore by Col. Chuck Blaschke, RDM paralegal.
The National Guard Team Medal presented to RDM by Col. Chuck Blaschke.

One notable example is when paralegal and National Guardsman Col. Chuck Blaschke was deployed to Iraq in the early 2000s. “The respect that Kurt and the firm had for me as a guardsman and soldier through two deployments was remarkable,” says Chuck. In return, Chuck presented the firm with the Army National Guard Team Medal as a thanks for the support shown while he was away serving the country.

Another paralegal, Teresa Tallman, has been with the firm for most of its existence, recently celebrating 22 years with RDM. She’s made her dedicated work with us a family affair, with her daughter Brittany Leonard also working at the firm as a paralegal.

“The people who deserve special recognition for the success of our law firm are our families,” adds Steve. “They were (and still are) the support system that have allowed us to make innumerable personal sacrifices that have resulted in a successful law firm. Our key to success has been and will always be a strong work ethic, and our families have made that possible.”

To the Future

Rasmussen Dickey Moore named to US News & World Report's Best Law Firms for 2022.

RDM has come a long way over 25 years, expanding to three offices in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. However, our commitment to our core values—dedication, flexibility, and value—have always stayed the same. And while we’ve grown, we still acknowledge the importance of maintaining a lean, efficient organization to be able to provide top-tier service to our clients nationwide at an extraordinary value.

Recently, RDM was recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Law Firmsfor our work in products liability defense, mass torts defense, and franchise law. Kurt Rasmussen, Clay Dickey, and Joseph Dioszeghy have been once again named to the Best Lawyers list. And Kurt Rasmussen and Steve Moore were listed as 2022 Super Lawyers in products liability defense.

We’re immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve our clients, whether it be from day one of a case or down to the wire before trial. Our attorneys and staff are eager to demonstrate our dedication and attention to detail that have set us apart over the last 25 years.  

RDM attorney Sarah Schwartz discusses legal services supporting veterans.

For my very first job as an attorney, I got to work with veterans as an Equal Justice Works fellow starting Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Veterans Project. It was the most rewarding way to begin my legal career that I could ever imagine. I had the honor of representing veterans and their family members in the St. Louis region over the course of two years. These cases arose from a variety of significant civil legal needs that are common among veterans and their families including housing, public benefits, family law, domestic violence, and consumer issues.

I am not being hyperbolic when I write that there was a massive number of cases that flooded into our office. While we were successful in helping numerous veterans who contacted us, there were still many we could not represent due to the limits of our own resources. For every veteran we could help, there were more who were unable to access the legal assistance they needed. According to the Legal Services Corporation, in 2017, “71% of households with veterans or other military personnel reported experiencing a civil legal problem in the past year.” Furthermore, veterans and military personnel reported receiving “inadequate or no professional legal help for 88% of their civil legal problems in 2017.” These issues persist to this day and have also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, how can the legal community help tackle these overwhelming needs?

Attorneys Volunteering to Help Veterans

In addition to the clients we were able to represent, the project also worked with even more veterans to provide brief legal consultations and give them referrals to other organizations, including networks of private attorneys who could accept their cases pro bono.

I cannot express how impactful volunteer attorneys were in these roles, helping to fill the gaps as much as they could. Those who chose to utilize their law license to help a veteran keep a roof over their head, stop a predatory lender from financially exploiting them, or get out of an abusive relationship reported a sense of personal fulfillment in serving those who served our country.

This Veterans Day, I wholeheartedly encourage every member of the legal profession to assist our nation’s veterans and their families in addressing these outstanding legal needs. There are excellent organizations out there that you can contact and connect with abundant opportunities to serve our nation’s veterans.

Volunteer Opportunities

The need for legal assistance among veterans and their families is vast. There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities for attorneys seeking to serve veterans through pro bono work. Below are just a few of the organizations addressing the legal needs of veterans in our local communities.

The Kaufman Fund serves veterans and their families in the St. Louis, providing a number of services for low-income veterans. Their Veterans Legal Referral Program offers assistance with both civil and criminal legal matters. Attorneys interested in volunteering with The Kaufman Fund can apply here.

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri provides a broad array of services to the St. Louis region, including for veterans in our community. Find out more about volunteering with LSEM.

In the Metro East, Land of Lincoln Legal Aid serves veterans in the state of Illinois who need civil legal assistance. Attorneys can learn more about volunteering with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid here.

Kansas City Area Legal Resources for Veterans

Legal Aid of Western Missouri supports veterans needing civil legal assistance in Kansas City area and other portions of western Missouri. Their Veterans Relief Project helps veterans navigate legal issues including bankruptcies, foreclosures, student loans, and acquiring VA benefits. Western Missouri attorneys interested in volunteering can find out more about the Volunteer Attorney Project here.

Across the state line, Kansas Legal Services offers extensive legal assistance for veterans and their families. Interested attorneys can find volunteer opportunities here.

Los Angeles Area Legal Resources for Veterans

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Veterans Justice Center assists low-income veterans with a variety of legal issues. Attorneys interested in volunteering with LAFLA can find more information here.

Nationwide Legal Resources for Veterans

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosts events and law clinics across the country. You can find upcoming events and points of contact at the Veterans Justice Outreach Program website.

Books in a law library. RDM carefully studies contract language and contract law to ensure our clients know what they're signing.

The Eastern District of Missouri recently highlighted the importance of plain language, or the ordinary meaning doctrine, which suggests words in contracts should be given their everyday meaning unless the context of the contract indicates an alternative.

Pelopidas v. Keller

Pelopidas v. Keller involved a dispute between a previously married couple and their respective interest in a company. After divorcing, the couple agreed to retain their respective 50% ownership of the Pelopidas holding company. One spouse remained the owner/manager of the company and the other was an owner/employee drawing salary and benefits.

The owner/employee brought claims for breach of fiduciary duty in 2016. Ultimately, the owner/manager ex-spouse resigned from the company in 2019 and the company’s largest client and primary source of revenue terminated its business relationship with Pelopidas. Following these events, the parties mediated the lawsuit and entered into a written agreement titled “Memorandum of Settlement” outlining an agreed transfer of interest from the owner/employee to the owner/manager in exchange for a monetary payment.

The contract language included “Plaintiff’s stock shall be surrendered/sold, escrowed and pledged back to Plaintiff” and included a payment schedule over three and a half years. There was no effective date for the transfer of the owner/employee’s interest. In early 2020, the parties reached an impasse regarding finalizing the settlement and transfer of stock. The owner/employee then filed suit to enforce her version of the transfer of stock settlement which included a different effective date than that proposed by the owner/manager. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the owner/manager on the grounds that the effective date of the transfer of stock was the date in which the settlement was executed. The owner/employee appealed.

The Eastern District reversed the trial court’s ruling, instead directing the court to enter summary judgment in favor of the owner/employee. The Eastern District stated, “It is well established that the cardinal principle for contract interpretation is to ascertain the intention of the parties and to give effect to that intent.  To that end we use the plain, ordinary, and usual meaning of the contract’s words and consider the document as a whole.”

What’s The Difference Between Language of Performance and Language of Obligation?

The appeals court went on to determine the plain meaning of the use of “shall be” in relation to the transfer of the stock to determine the intent for whether it imposed a future obligation or immediate performance. The Court stated, “very simply, it is the only reasonable interpretation of the words “shall be” in [the contract clause], which clearly commands that each of these requirements occur sometime after [the date the settlement was executed].”

The Court went on to cite to the American Bar Association’s A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting which notes the differences between language of performance and language of obligation.

Language of Performance: Expresses actions accomplished by means of signing the contract itself, is typically accomplished by use of the word “hereby.”

Language of Obligation: States any duty a contract imposes on one or more parties and is typically accomplished by use of the word “shall” or “will.”

The Court noted that this plain language interpretation is reinforced by the fact that the dismissal of the underlying lawsuit was accomplished with the same language “shall be” with the intent that the lawsuit be dismissed at a future date following the execution of the supplemental documentation related to stock transfer.

“Hereby” vs. “Shall Be”

The takeaway lesson for businesses and contract drafters is to avoid utilizing any language of obligation if the intent of the parties is to effectuate the date of the agreement at the time of execution. In fact, the ABA manual specifically states in Section 3.72, that the word “shall” should not be used to express anything other than language of obligation in a contract. The alternative language to effectuate the date of the stock transfer as the date of the settlement execution could have been, “Plaintiff’s stock is hereby surrendered/sold, escrowed and shall be pledged back to Plaintiff.”

When drafting a contract, the details are of utmost importance. RDM’s Business Law Team understands the ins and outs of complex contractual agreements and can help you ensure that what you see is what you get. Contact RDM before you sign on the dotted line.

RDM associate attorney Jay Gillen.

Meet John A. “Jay” Gillen III, Rasmussen Dickey Moore’s newest associate attorney based in our Kansas City office. Although Jay only recently passed the Missouri bar exam, he is more than prepared to take on our clients’ cases and deliver the dedication, flexibility, and value for which RDM is known.

Why is Jay such a suitable fit for the RDM Team? He’s already spent three years with the firm as a law clerk, getting to know our attorneys, clients, and business.

The Summer Law Clerk Job

After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 2018, Jay was preparing to enter Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. Initially, he planned to study Constitutional law. But by chance, Jay was introduced to RDM founding member Clayton Dickey. Clay invited Jay to interview for a law clerk position with RDM. Before long, Jay found himself immersed in the litigation world.

During his first summer on the job, Jay worked closely with Clay to prepare deposition summaries and do background research on plaintiffs. “Reading through depo summaries gave a better insight into what happens and helped me to develop specialized knowledge,” says Jay of his first summer at RDM.

The following summer, Jay was part of a Trial Team, working closely with RDM’s seasoned trial attorneys to provide research assistance on cases. Jay suggests going beyond just what the attorneys tell you to look for. Take initiative and focus on the details. “It’s always fun to come up something and see the attorneys get excited. If I were doing this, what would I look for to win this case?”

Working summers with RDM was exceptionally valuable. Clay recalls, “As a summer clerk Jay got well-versed in a fun and interesting array of topics such as marijuana, genetics, and cattle farms.”

“A lot of law students looking to go into big law firms get thrown into a back room doing document discovery for years. At RDM, I was able to work closely with attorneys and start drafting memos and motions,” Jay says. “It was a big advantage.” Heading into his pre-trial litigation course in the fall of 2020, Jay was able to take the lead on group projects with his previous experience preparing deposition summaries and motions.

During his final school year, Jay was able to stay on the job remotely while finishing his final year at law school and studying for the bar exam through the summer. Jay had been working closely with Clay and associate attorney Farhan Zahid on a case and was able to continue contributing as he wrapped up his studies.

Member attorney Nathan Lindsey recalls similar valuable experiences. Starting as a law clerk with RDM as a 2L student, Nate worked on dispositive motions and international choice of law issues for cases headed to trial. “Those type of early opportunities sold me on the firm,” says Nate. The following year, Nate had a very unique opportunity when he was able to cross Missouri to assist in opening RDM’s St. Louis office.

From summer clerk to partner, Nate’s experience demonstrates the career possibilities made available at RDM. “We are truly a career-oriented firm. The firm values every one of our employees and provides opportunities to grow and fulfill their potential.”

Becoming an Associate Attorney

After having demonstrated exceptional skills and dedication to his work over three summers, RDM of course extended an offer to Jay to become an associate attorney once he passed the bar exam. Jay transitioned into the job quite smoothly, as he was already wrapped up with the cases and clients that would soon become his.

The expectations are elevated, however, and as an attorney, the work becomes more intense and more time sensitive. “It surprised me to find out just how much our attorneys handle,” Jay says. But having already developed a deep familiarity with the work done at RDM, he has been able to take it all in stride.

Member attorney Joseph Dioszeghy began his long career with RDM straight out of law school in 2001. “One of RDM’s strengths is treating our employees and young attorneys as adults,” says Joe. “They immediately assigned me a trial set case and put me to work.”

“We train you, we help you, and we prepare you in every way we know how to be successful. But at the end of the day, we trust you to do your job. We let young associates take very important depositions. We let young associates argue important motions.”

Young associates receive opportunities to take on challenging work from the moment they start. First-year RDM associate Dillon Williams recently wrote about some of his newly acquired experience in drafting summary judgment motions as a new attorney who was able to take on challenges from the start.

Looking Forward to a Career with RDM

“Part of the fun is being able to work with the attorneys and trusted to handle the work,” says Jay. Now that he’s a full-fledged attorney, Jay wants to diversify the types of work he’ll be involved with. Beyond products liability and toxic torts, he hopes to delve into the fields of commercial litigation and healthcare law soon as well.

“Everyone at RDM has been great even since I started as a law clerk,” says Jay, “and now I can do more to help them out.” RDM founding member Steve Moore has brought Jay in to help with a number of asbestos cases. And he still works closely with Farhan, currently assisting with pro bono family law cases. “It’s emotional but exciting,” Jay says of the family law work. He hopes to continue to do pro bono work, also in the fields of Social Security and disability, as he did while working at Indiana University’s Community Legal Clinic.

“Jay is inquisitive, insightful, a quick study, enthusiastic and knows how to apply the law to the facts at hand,” says Clay Dickey. “He’s mature beyond his years. We are lucky to have him.” The attorneys and staff at Rasmussen Dickey Moore are excited to support this promising young attorney as he continues on his career path at our firm.

Career Opportunities

As RDM continues to grow, we’ll have more excellent career opportunities for new and experienced associates. Visit our Careers page or follow Rasmussen Dickey Moore on LinkedIn to stay up to date on available opportunities.

The futsal court in Marquette Park.

Rasmussen Dickey Moore member attorney Nate Lindsey recently participated in the kickoff event for the first outdoor futsal court in St. Louis. As part of his work with Dutchtown Main Streets, a volunteer-run community development non-profit, Nate teamed up with the organization’s subcommittee Allies of Marquette Park to usher in a new era of soccer to Marquette. Nate organized and collaborated with St. Louis CITY SC, the St. Louis Parks Department, and a host of private donors, community organizations, and contractors to have the futsal court installed at Marquette Park.

Continue reading RDM Attorney Nate Lindsey Helps Bring Futsal to Dutchtown