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WJA 2020: Jessica R. Hill, Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson

Jessica Hill moved from her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, to attend Evangel University in Springfield, where she initially planned to study journalism as an undergraduate.

Instead of being assigned to a journalism advisor, however, she was assigned to a pre-law advisor who shared her ties to Ohio. She eventually shifted her focus to the pre-law program.

Jessica R. Hill

Hill

“It was kind of a fluke thing, but I would call it divine intervention,” she said.

Hill went on to attend Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She graduated in 2008, which she called “a terrible time to graduate from law school.”

Luckily, she had a job waiting for her. Between her second and third year as a law student, she interned with the Greene County Prosecutor’s office and joined the office after graduating.

She worked as an assistant prosecutor for slightly more than four years, and in time shifted from working on property and traffic crimes to domestic violence cases and then to the office’s major crimes unit.

Hill said starting her legal career in the prosecutor’s office was great in terms of getting trial experience in a short amount of time.

“I loved being a prosecutor. It was definitely a highlight,” she said.

When she left the office, she took a consulting job before starting with Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson in 2015. Last year, she became a shareholder in the Springfield firm.

While a more typical path out of the prosecutor’s office might have led her to criminal defense work, she said that was always unlikely for her.

“I’m married to a homicide detective,” she said. “Criminal defense was not in my future.”

Instead, she always saw herself working in civil litigation, she said.

“It’s just sometimes hard to get your foot in the door,” she said.

When she was seeking a job on the civil side, she wanted to find a firm where she could work for the long term and also a firm with longevity in the community. she said. Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson fit the bill.

“There’s not a lot of turnover. It’s a great place to work,” she said. “It just seemed their philosophies aligned with mine.”

Hill’s practice there is mainly focused on insurance defense, but she also does some school and labor and employment law. She also represents hospitals.

She said she loves the practice of law, with its challenges, and she enjoys working with and advocating for her clients.

“On the insurance defense side, I’m working with individuals who are a lot of times getting sued for the first time,” she said. “I take pride in being able to walk them through that, calm their nerves, just help them through a time that otherwise would be very stressful for them.”

When she’s not in the office, she can be found with her 2-year-old daughter, Avery, and her 5-year-old son, Jax.

“Pretty much anytime I’m not working, I’m just being a mom,” she said.

2020 Women's Justice Awards