Jo Anna Pollock was a critical component of the Simmons Hanly Conroy legal team that filed suit for more than 600 residents around the Bridgeton, Missouri, landfill and secured a $6.9 million settlement. She helped the firm to receive a $7 million settlement for 183 properties around the Wood River, Illinois, refinery. She brought a class-action suit in Granite City, Illinois, and reached a $4.26 million preliminary settlement.
And last year Pollock secured a pair of six-figure settlements for locals harmed by pollution from Madison County, Illinois, refineries.
“When I see an injustice, I’m all in,” Pollock said.
Sizeable environmental litigations through the past five years aren’t the only reasons Pollock has earned respect across greater St. Louis. Peers call her a trailblazer, noting her work in other aspects of law and in her community:
- She represents sex-abuse victims in Haiti.
- She takes on pro bono cases for children in divorce or parental-rights cases and for prisoners in civil-rights cases.
- She performs additional pro bono work for Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts in St. Louis.
- She writes frequently for peer-reviewed journals and legal publications such as the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Trial Magazine, the Journal of Health Law and the Illinois Bar Journal.
- She established a mentoring program via the 3rd Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, and since 2012 has seen 50 high school students benefit through opportunities for job-shadowing and legal internships.
In recognition of her work, Simmons Hanly Conroy promoted Pollock to shareholder in January.
When asked in the fifth grade in Edwardsville, Illinois, what she wanted to be when she grew up, Pollock replied: a lawyer.
“I always wanted to stand up for people who didn’t have the resources, the strengths or the position to advocate for themselves,” she said. “And now I have two daughters, and these two daughters are the most important thing to me — to set the right standard for them and inspire them.”
Pollock graduated from Lindenwood University in 1997 and completed her law degree at Saint Louis University School of Law in 2000. After clerking for the late Judge Richard B. Teitelman of the Missouri Court of Appeals (and later the Missouri Supreme Court), she worked as an associate with Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Edwardsville. She came to Simmons Hanly Conroy in 2004 and started in commercial litigation, distinguishing herself in national prescription-drug and intellectual property cases. Then came the environmental practice.
But the ongoing Haiti case has become one of the most meaningful of Pollock’s career.
For more than a decade, convicted pedophile Douglas Perlitz sexually abused more than 150 homeless children at a school he founded, threatening to expel those who resisted to a life on Cap-Hatien’s streets.
In the years since Perlitz’s conviction in 2010 — a case that also involved attorney Mitchell Garabedian of “Spotlight” fame — Pollock has worked with many young Haitian victims, preparing and defending them in depositions for lawsuits her firm filed on their behalf.
“I can’t imagine working on anything more satisfying,” Pollock said of the cases now in mediation. “People who are hurt, or children — I’ve always identified with those people more.”