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Judge James P. O'Hara

Adjunct Faculty
Primary office:

James P. O’Hara was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in April 2000. Judge O’Hara handles the pretrial aspects of civil and criminal cases and, upon consent of the parties, presides over several civil jury trials each year. From 2004 until 2010, by appointment of the Chief Justice, O’Hara served on the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Resources, which formulates personnel-related policy recommendations for the federal court system. Before his appointment to the federal bench, O’Hara was in private practice as a partner in the Kansas City-based law firm of Shughart Thomson & Kilroy (now known as Polsinelli Shughart). He primarily represented clients in commercial cases in federal and state courts in Kansas and Missouri.

Courses Taught:
  • Trial Advocacy


J.D. Creighton University School of Law, 1980, Editorial Staff, Creighton Law Review; B.A. University of Nebraska, 1977.


Kansas, 1983, U.S. Supreme Court

Career History

Clerk, U.S. District Judge Robert V. Denney and C. Arlen Beam, 1980-1982; Associate and Partner, Shughart Thomson & Kilroy, 1982-2000; U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court of Kansas, 2000-present.


President, Earl E. O’Connor American Inn of Court, 2007-2008; Board of Editors, Journal of the Kansas Bar Association, 1983-2007; Kansas Bar Association; Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association; Earl E. O'Connor American Inn of Court.

Why KU
  • One-third of full-time faculty have written casebooks and treatises
  • 2 KU law faculty were U.S. Supreme Court clerks
  • KU’s Project for Innocence: 34 conviction reversals since 2009
  • 7,600+ alumni in all 50 states, D.C., and 21 foreign countries
  • #18 “best value” law school in the nation — National Jurist Magazine
  • 12 interdisciplinary joint degrees
  • 20th nationwide for lowest debt at graduation. — U.S. News & World Report
  • 80 percent of upper-level law classes have 25 or fewer students
  • More than 600 employment interviews at law school, 2014-15
  • 92 percent overall employment rate for Class of 2014 – top 20 percent nationally
  • 23rd: for number of law alumni promoted to partner at nation’s largest law firms
  • #1 in Kansas and Missouri for July 2015 bar exam performance