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Taylor Kerns, 38

Shareholder, Simmons Hanly Conroy

Taylor KernsLocation: Alton, Illinois

Practice area(s): Mass tort litigation, product liability, mesothelioma and asbestos

Law school: Saint Louis University

One look at his results and rise through the ranks at his firm makes it clear Taylor Kerns’ career has been a success.

In the past two years alone, cases Kerns has spearheaded from start to end have brought more than $220 million in recovery. He already has helped to secure nearly $500 million through his career in the cases he litigates and manages.

But that record tells just part of his career story. With clients facing mesothelioma diagnoses and an average life expectancy of 6-15 months, Kerns and his team have just a few months to get extremely complex cases on file and prepared for trial. What’s more, Kerns and his team work on hundreds of cases at a time.

Kerns has a deep dedication to his clients that has led him to travel across the country, sit in hospital rooms, watch clients die and help families to plan funeral arrangements, according to his nominator.

“All of the lawyering skills in the world might make a great attorney, but Taylor’s empathy and human connection to his clients make him truly exceptional,” his nominator wrote.

What advice do you have for young lawyers? 

Your clients come first. It can be easy to get distracted by opposing counsel, office politics or your own ego. But these should never get in the way of acting in your clients’ best interests. And be sure to go on vacation — it’s good for you.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what profession would you have chosen?

A park ranger.

What is the best career advice you have received?

You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

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