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John E. Richardson Jr., 40

John E. Richardson Jr.Shareholder, Simmons Hanly Conroy

Location: Alton, Illinois

Practice Areas: Asbestos litigation

Law School: Saint Louis University

During his 14-year legal career, John Richardson has represented nearly 200 clients diagnosed with mesothelioma, one of the rarest and deadliest forms of cancer. His cases regularly settle for confidential seven-figure amounts, cumulatively totaling more than $170 million.

“I was planning to be a lawyer even as a kid,” he said. “That decision coincided with the realization I’d never be a professional baseball player.”

One of his legal career highlights is the $34 million verdict he helped to secure in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles on behalf of a mechanic who recently had been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The National Law Journal included it in its “2019 Top Verdicts” list.

In this specialty area of law, Richardson must determine the origin of each client’s asbestos exposure and master the science behind it in order to defend and depose experts successfully. He does this for 18 individual cases during an average year while managing a time schedule expedited by his clients’ deteriorating medical status.

Richardson works with the Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel and volunteers during Expungement Day/Second Chance Saturday/Right to Work events in Madison County, Illinois. He also offers pro bono representation in various family cases, guardian ad litem matters and on behalf of military veterans.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I grew up in Springfield, Illinois, and worked for two Illinois governors before going to law school. Today, I’m part-owner of a comic book and game store in Springfield with one of my childhood friends.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Treat each client as if they’re your only client.