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Spotlight on Southwestern Illinois: Salute to Women in Law

Jayne Conroy, Shareholder, Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC, Alton

By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    ALTON — Jayne Conroy’s law career is a case study of some of the most important litigation of the past two decades.
p18 conroyConroy    The Toyota accelerator controversy. The 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Any of those topics would be enough for a book, but for Conroy they are chapters in a career that continues to be defined. She reached a personal apex this year when she became a named shareholder at one of the elite trial law firms in the nation. That’s how the National Law Journal describes the combination of her former firm, Hanly Conroy Bierstein Sheridan Fisher & Hayes, of New York, with the firm of Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd in Alton.
    The resultant firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC, is a personal injury behemoth.
    Conroy, 56, focuses on complex litigation, more specifically pharmaceutical mass torts and consumer protection actions. The new partnership affords her more resources to represent the welfare of injured clients.
    “It’s been fabulous,” she said. “I have all the resources I could ever need, I know I have total support, including financial, which is very significant in the our kind of work because these cases go on four or five years and have to be fully funded by the firm itself. That’s the way these work. That lets me sleep at night knowing there’s never going to be an issue with whatever needs to be done in a case. And there’s total legal support. I have lots of people to call on who are ready and anxious to work on these types of cases. These are ground-breaking cases, really important.”
    She travels frequently for the job, finding herself in new places, sometimes for days and often for weeks.
    The merger has been “pretty seamless,” she said. “It’s actually been wonderful. We’d worked with the Simmons firm for over a decade and were very familiar with them. We spend a bit more time here (in Alton) than we did in the past just to kind of make sure things are moving smoothly.”
    She lives and works in Manhattan.
    Much of her current focus is on pharmaceutical actions on behalf of several thousand plaintiffs who were administered such drugs as Lipitor, OxyContin, Vioxx, Chantix, Yazmin and others, as well as clients injured by medical devices such as artificial hips and transvaginal mesh.
    Every case involves fields of expertise beyond law. The Toyota case, for example, mandated a certain understanding of engineering.
    “And that was a good help to getting into the metal on metal hips (cases), which involve a lot of engineering as well,” Conroy said. “Every single case is a whole new area to get involved in and learn how something works. Sometimes it’s molecular, sometimes it’s engineering, sometimes it’s cultural differences.”
    Conroy has for years represented several thousand victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy in a multi-district action against the financial sponsors of terrorism.