Kelli McDonald was born in Houston, Texas in 1962. An avid whitewater kayaker, Kelli attended college at Southwest Texas State University on the banks of the San Marcos River. As part of her curriculum, Kelli kayaked the Rio Grande River on one of the first backcountry use permits issued by the National Park Service and was one of few permitted to swim in the Edwards Aquafer as a Mermaid at Aquarena Springs. Kelli earned a kayaking championship and her Bachelor of Arts in English before returning to Houston to attend law school at South Texas College of Law.
While at South Texas College of Law, Kelli was elected Editor of the Law Review, published, and was awarded the Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Award and the Cecil N. Cook Memorial Award for most significant contribution to the Law Review. Kelli won Top 10 Honors in Moot Court competition and was elected President of the Honor Society.
Kelli began her law career working for legendary Houston trial lawyer, John M. O’Quinn. John taught Kelli how to try lawsuits. Kelli learned to write appellate briefs from The Father of Texas Tort Law, James “Jim” Kronzer.
In 2009, while raising her son, Kelli took a sabbatical from law to explore another passion: education. Kelli earned teaching certifications spanning all grades Early Childhood through High School. She taught in private and public schools, moved into education administration, and served as a public school Principal before returning to law in 2021.
Kelli was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1988 and is also admitted to practice before the United States District Courts in the Eastern and Southern Districts of Texas and in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Sixth Circuits. Kelli’s practice has been devoted exclusively to civil litigation in areas of law as diverse as commercial and private aviation crashes, defamation, maritime, consumer protection, banking and securities fraud, medical negligence, products liability, premises liability, insurance bad faith, trucking collisions, automobile collisions, railroad crossing cases, business and commercial litigation, non-subscriber workplace injury cases, and toxic tort cases, among others.
Kelli is a published author and public speaker. Her body of work includes: Confidentiality Agreements and Orders: When Should Discoverable Materials Be Kept Secret? 31. S. Tex. Law Rev. 455. No Duty: An Historical Perspective on the Judicial Creation of a Privileged Class, Vol. 23 No. 1 Trial Lawyers Forum 17. Common Law Theories of Lender Liability, VI Corp. Cous. Rev. 23. A Reservation of Minerals by the State of Texas Includes Coal and Lignite Even Though Recovery Will Destroy of Deplete the Surface Estate, Schwartz v. State, 703 S.W. 2d 187 (Tex. 1986), 28 S. Tex. Law Rev. 727 (1987). Advanced Personal Injury Short Course: DTPA in Personal Injury Cases, University of Houston. Handling Insurance & Tort Claims: DTPA in Personal Injury Actions, University of Houston. DTPA & Consumer Law Institute: Warranties, University of Houston
Advanced Personal Injury Short Course: DTPA in Personal Injury Cases, University of Houston. DTPA & Consumer Law Institute: Warranties, University of Houston DTPA & Consumer Law Institute: Warranties, University of Houston.
Kelli’s career in education has given her unique insight into how the brain learns. Kelli knows how to communicate effectively so that judges and juries easily understand complex information and are able to empathize with the very real damages sustained by her clients.
Kelli’s hobbies include kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, snow skiing, scuba diving, hiking and photography.