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Elisa J. Pleasant is an attorney at Simmons Hanly Conroy, working out of the Alton office. She joined the firm in 2019, focusing her practice on helping those impacted by the opioid crisis. Her role centers on review of important and sensitive documents. As part of her team, Elisa has found a home at the firm and loves the work she does.
Elisa works on the firm’s discovery team in the ongoing National Prescription Opiate Multidistrict Litigation. The MDL represents local governments across the country, alleging drug companies contributed to the opioid crisis by carelessly promoting painkillers and downplaying addiction risks.
“Working for Simmons Hanly Conroy, and seeing all the good work they accomplish, it feels like a marriage of everything I want to do as an attorney,” Elisa said.
Elisa has been an attorney for eight years. Prior to becoming a lawyer and after graduating from Duke University in 2005, with a B.S. in biology, she worked at the University of Chicago for a neuroscientist who conducted epilepsy research. After this position she transitioned to working under the University’s Cancer Research Center where her primary responsibilities included genetic sequencing and genotyping. She helped researchers find isolated genetic differences between healthy patients and cancer patients that could be contributing to cancer outcomes.
As part of her responsibilities, Elisa would handle the service and needs contracts for the University’s only genotyping MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer which required her to review and at times negotiate the terms. She also had to learn about ongoing patent litigation in order to advise her supervisor when making additional software purchases. This piqued her interest in law.
“Negotiating contracts was what I enjoyed most about my job at the University of Chicago. That was so fun for me,” she said. “I had planned to work in a lab for two years to help me decide if I wanted to get a Ph.D. in biology or go to medical school. Instead, I chose law school.”
Elisa graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2013, earning a certificate in Health Law. She also received recognition awards for her leadership and service as well as the Joseph Bernstein scholarship, and the Beazley Health Law Fellowship.
While attending Loyola, she took advantage of their robust international law program and traveled abroad to 5 different countries across 3 continents during the spring and summer sessions. This ultimately led to Elisa working on anti-human trafficking efforts in India after law school. Upon returning to Chicago, Elisa worked in city government until starting her own practice in 2016, which focused on family law.
Elisa has significant experience in pro bono work as an attorney. Most is in the area of bringing justice to victims of human trafficking. She consulted with an international organization that works tirelessly to bring an end to human trafficking across the globe. As part of her volunteer work, Elisa transcribed depositions, trained local attorneys, researched legal issues, drafted arguments and tracked over 70 human trafficking prosecutions.
Although she is now working on opioid litigation at the firm, she stays involved with the fight against human trafficking with her church which does local work in Chicago. She’s also involved with volunteer work in the areas of diversity inclusion and racial justice.