National law firm dedicated to representing asbestos cancer victims makes giving back the bedrock of its culture
Several Simmons Hanly Conroy employees were present to accept the firm’s Corporate Philanthropy Award. From left, Tamara Jesse, Stephanie Elliott, Ashley Kuenstler, Medical Director Amy Fair, Assistant Managing Partner Amy Garrett and Shareholder Ted Gianaris.
St. Louis, MO. – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms, is known for standing for its clients. Today, it was recognized for standing for its neighbors.
During the St. Louis Business Journal’s second annual Corporate Philanthropy Awards, the firm was recognized as the most philanthropic midsize business in the St. Louis Metro area, locally donating more than $1.3 million and close to 1,000 volunteer hours in 2018. Assistant Managing Partner Amy Garrett accepted the award on behalf of the firm.
The firm’s culture of giving can be traced back to its founder, John Simmons. Raised in a small town, he was taught to offer a hand whenever possible. This philosophy became the bedrock of his law firm’s culture. Simmons started the firm in 1999 to give a voice to the voiceless, representing people diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer caused by asbestos. Today, the firm represents more mesothelioma victims than any law firm in the country
“We’re one of the most successful plaintiffs’ firms in the country,” Simmons said. “It’s not only our social responsibility to share that success with others who need it – it’s something we’re passionate about doing.”
Since 2004, the firm has donated more than 10,000 volunteer hours and millions to non-profits and other organizations focused on helping those in need. Notable donations and efforts include:
- The firm and its shareholders pledged $10.2 million dollars to fund the Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University. The Cancer Institute is the only one of its kind in downstate Illinois and has more than 20,000 patient visits every year.
- The firm created Miles for Meso in 2009, a local 5K that raises awareness and funds for mesothelioma cancer research. There are now Miles for Meso races across the country, and more than $750,000 has been raised to help cancer victims and their families.
- Employees came together to form the Simmons Employee Foundation (SEF). Funded solely by payroll deductions and employee donations, the foundation has donated more than $1 million of financial support and countless volunteer hours to hundreds of charitable organizations. One of SEF’s annual efforts is its annual food drive. Every year, employees donated 25,000 pounds of food to five area food pantries during the holidays.
- The firm hosts two blood drives every year. In the past 10 years, employees have donated enough blood to save the lives of 3,200 people.
- Every year, employees participate in the Adopt-A-Family program for the Christmas season. In the nine years employees have participated, they have purchased Christmas presents for almost 2,000 children and almost 700 families.
Medical Coordinator Amy Fair, who organizes the firm’s Adopt-A-Family efforts, credits firm leadership for employees’ passion for volunteerism and fundraising.
“It really starts at the top,” she said. “Leadership has created an environment where donating time and money isn’t seen as a box to check – it’s seen as a normal, everyday part of our culture and something we are happy to be a part of.”
Employees made a big difference last year during the holiday season. In December, a young mother of three was living in a local homeless shelter after bravely fleeing her abusive husband. She and her children left the family home with a trash bag of belongings just one month before Santa was set to arrive. When firm employees learned of the family’s situation, they sprung into action. The whole family received food, new clothing and shoes, and several Christmas presents to unwrap.
In a thank you note to the firm, the mother wrote, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your generosity is above and beyond what I could have imagined. You have given us our first reason to smile in a very long time. I don’t know that we would have made it through the rest of this year without your gift.”
Her family was one of 78 families adopted by the firm last holiday season.
“No matter their situation, we are committed to seeing all of our neighbors succeed,” Simmons said. “Whether it’s in the courtroom or the community, we are proud to be on their side.”
To read the St. Louis Business Journal’s profile on the firm, visit https://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2019/11/08/corporate-philanthropy-awards-2019-simmons-hanly.html (behind a paywall).
For more information about the firm’s philanthropic efforts, visit giving-back.