In pursuing his first career as a certified public accountant, Brad Zimmerman’s strong suit seemed obvious.
“I’ve always kind of been a little bit of a numbers guy,” he said.
But the St. Louis native’s decision to enroll in law school at the University of Missouri took him down a road that he believed would allow figures on a balance sheet to make real differences in people’s lives. Now as an associate at Carmody MacDonald who deals with estate planning, tax work and general corporate law, he interacts with clients in a way that a CPA doesn’t.
“I just feel like the advice I give people, you can tell right away that it is making a positive impact for them, as opposed to doing tax planning for giant Fortune 500 companies,” he said. “It is worthwhile work for bigger CPA firms, but I just felt a more personal connection with the work that I’m doing now.”
That work became even more personal in 2020 when Zimmerman found himself in the unusual position of legislative advocate, testifying before state legislators for a bill that would give a tax break to the surviving families of Missouri first responders who died from 9/11-related illnesses. One of them was his client, the widow of a man who worked at the site of the terrorist attack in New York.
“He spent close to two weeks up there working on disaster relief,” Zimmerman said of the late Christopher J. Bosche. “Sometime after that, he ended up getting cancer, which, it was determined, was from his work at Ground Zero.”
Zimmerman said a similar statute already is in place at the federal level.
“There are several other states that mirrored that tax refund, so we thought Missouri should do the same,” he said. “We started running with it as we looked at the statutes and just realized this was something we could fix here in Missouri for not only [his] family but also other first responders who might be in Missouri and in a similar situation.”
To that end, Zimmerman and his allies began reaching out to legislators in Jefferson City. They found a willing ear in Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, who helped to champion the effort.
In March, Zimmerman spoke in front of lawmakers about the proposed legislation.
“I answered questions and tried to kind of talk through the mechanics of how the tax refund would work,” he said. “Rep. Shields covered why it was important and why we wanted to do this for our first responders here in Missouri.”
Not being politically inclined, he admitted he was nervous during the process.
“As a transactional attorney, I always tell people that I try to stay as far away from a courtroom as I can, so it was a little outside of my comfort zone,” he recalled. “But I thought it was something worth doing.”
Still, he enjoyed seeing how the legislative process works, he said. The initiative was successful, with the Christopher J. Bosche Memorial Act ultimately being attached to the larger Terrorist Victims Tax Relief Bill.
“We’re very happy that we actually got something done — especially with all of the COVID shutdowns and things that were happening this year,” he noted.
Zimmerman’s nominator called him a likeable and learned attorney who delivers top-quality service to clients, based on deep knowledge in his field.
“Brad is an outstanding team member and role model for excellence and collaboration in the legal field,” his nominator wrote.