Sally I. Heller’s law practice — a continuation of a practice originally started by her father — concentrates on workers’ compensation. She is proud when her fighting on difficult issues has resulted in decisions that changed the practice of the law, including a 2006 appellate ruling that won relief for a nurse who suffered a mental breakdown after she was assaulted by a patient at work.
What inspired you to get involved in the justice system? My father, Melvin Heller, was a lawyer who represented people who were injured, or were going through divorces and in corporate matters. From when I was a young girl, I would go to his downtown law office and work for him. During the summers while in college I would continue to work for his law firm. I also worked for his trash company. I think he and my mother, Dolores, instilled a strong belief that we should help people when they don’t have the resources to help themselves and they taught me to be courteous and respectful of all people no matter what their race, religion, ethnicity or economic status was in life. I think they taught me good core values which inspired me to become a lawyer and assist those who needed representation.
What has been your favorite part of the job? I have had the privilege of getting to know such wonderful people who I have represented for 30 years. Also, the lawyers, judges and clerks are overall pretty awesome people. I have developed lifetime friendships with those I met and worked with in MATA and the Women Lawyers Association of Greater St. Louis.
What is something that would surprise people about you? I am very shy in crowds so it is difficult for me to mingle at a party or dinner.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given or received? Work hard toward what you believe in, do the best you can for your clients, have fun in what you do but never forget the most important people in your life are your family and close friends.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be? Well, I wanted to be a third-grade teacher since my favorite teacher was Miss Storer from Little Ladue (Reed School) and I wanted to teach just like her. But even more so, I really wanted to be an actress. I have acted and danced since I was 11 and continued to act and dance throughout my teenage and adult life until our daughter came into our lives in 2002.