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Judge Luther W. Simmons, Jr. (Ret.) is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy after retiring as an associate circuit judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois in Madison County. He brings more than 40 years of law experience to the firm, working in the Complex Litigation Department on matters involving catastrophic injury, wrongful death, environmental cases and class actions. He also works with the Asbestos Department, helping to manage the motion practice for the Madison County trial docket.
Luther uses his extensive knowledge of the law and experience as a judge to give his clients a voice against companies who have wronged them through no fault of their own. He treats every case with genuine care and meticulous attention detail, giving every client the respect and empathy they deserve. As a judge, Luther saw a wide assortment of cases and clients, giving him a unique experience that proves valuable to the SHC team.
“I’ve learned that experience is the best teacher and I have quite a bit of it,” he said. “I’ve seen people from all walks of life fighting an array of battles, and they each deserve a sense of understanding and empathy. This law firm had a wellspring of that before I joined the team and I’m proud to add to that culture. I always want to be the kind of attorney that encourages, fights and works for others, to be a positive force of progress.”
Luther doesn’t just talk about empathy, understanding and fighting for others – he backs it up with action. A very active advocate for the community, Luther’s efforts have been recognized with several awards. He received the Alton NAACP’s Community Service Award, the 100 Black Men of Alton’s Presidential Award and the New Shining Light (NSL) Venice Township Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award to name a few. He was also invited to serve on the Executive Committee of The National Trial Lawyers Association. For decades, he has mentored and counseled the minority youth of Alton and Madison County.
In January 2018, he announced his retirement from the Third Judicial Circuit Court, where he was appointed associate judge in 2015. Previously, he was a partner in a law firm with retired judge Ralph Mendelsohn, worked as an assistant state’s attorney under Bill Haine, and served as a Special Assistant Attorney General of the State of Illinois. Prior to that, he worked at Madison County’s Office of the Public Defender, where he was the first African American public defender in the county’s history in 1975.
Before becoming an attorney, he co-founded the Philadelphia Committee for College Placement, which helped inner city Philadelphia high-school students attend college. The committee matched potential students with colleges that could accept them and help finance their tuition. The Committee placed 250 students in colleges and universities across the country, all of them with financial aid packages that were enabled them to leave Philadelphia and fulfill their dreams.
“Everything I’ve always done throughout my whole life has been very people-oriented, so the firm’s motto of ‘We Stand for our Clients’ really resonates with me,” he said. “Any day that I go to work and feel like I make a difference, no matter how minute, is a great day. It’s the daily victories that accumulate and make a difference, and I’m proud to make a difference for the clients at Simmons Hanly Conroy.”