John Simmons founded Simmons Hanly Conroy in 1999 with seven employees and a focus on asbestos litigation. Under his leadership, the firm expanded to a national litigation firm with more than 250 employees, including over 70 attorneys, spread between six offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis and Alton, Illinois. Today, the firm represents clients from across the country in the practice areas of asbestos and mesothelioma, dangerous drugs and medical devices, prescription opioid litigation, sexual abuse litigation, environmental litigation and other mass torts and complex litigations.
Simmons started the firm because he believed he could provide a higher level of legal care to clients by combining legal expertise with service-minded values. In 2009, his vision led him to start the Miles for Meso 5K, which raises awareness for mesothelioma cancer and funds for research. To date, the race has raised more than $650,000.
One year later, Simmons’ vision expanded yet again when he and the firm made a joint $10.2 million donation to build the Simmons Cancer Institute on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Springfield. The Cancer Institute is the only one of its kind in downstate Illinois. Physicians there see more than 20,000 patient visits per year, and no matter the financial resources patients may have, they are never turned away from care.
Motivated by Simmons’ core belief of giving back to the community, firm employees have donated more than $1 million of dollars to local charities and events through the Simmons Employee Foundation. Additionally, under his leadership, the firm has donated nearly $20 million to cancer research nationwide and hundreds of thousands of dollars to local non-profits and organizations under his leadership.
Simmons earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville after serving for two years as an Army combat engineer. He graduated with his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas.