Melissa Crowe Schopfer
Simmons Hanly Conroy
▶Toxic Tort, Specializing in asbestos-related diseases
40 Under Class – 2017
Melissa Schopfer’s legal work makes a difference to families suffering through a devastating diagnosis and medical crisis. She specializes in asbestos litigation, primarily focusing on mesothelioma cases.
Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos, is one of the rarest and deadliest forms of cancer. Through her legal work, Schopfer has provided financial relief to families with loved ones who have suffered this form of cancer because of their exposure to asbestos.
Allison Sonneveld with the law firm of Polsinelli has seen the impact that Schopfer’s work can have on families. And she’s also seen just how deeply Schopfer cares about her clients.
“I noticed that Melissa had something special about her in the way that she connected with her clients and other witnesses,” Sonneveld said. “She got to know her clients and their families very well.”
How dedicated is Schopfer to her clients? Sonneveld said that she worked on depositions for them up until the very week of her wedding. She then postponed her honeymoon so that she could complete a client’s deposition. She did this because her client’s health was deteriorating so quickly.
This dedication has helped Schopfer build a busy career and rise through the ranks of her profession. Today, she is a partner at the Alton, Illinois, law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy, where she leads a team of attorneys, investigators and paralegals.
To succeed in her practice, Schopfer has educated herself and developed a thorough knowledge of potential asbestos exposures in many occupations. An example? Schopfer has become an expert in aviation litigation. She now knows how aircraft is built, where the asbestos-containing components of aircraft are and how different jobs encounter different parts of the aircraft.
And this is just one example. Schopfer’s expertise covers a wide range of occupations, premises and equipment.
Thanks to this dedication, Schopfer routinely wins seven-figure amounts for her clients. During her 11 years of practice, Schopfer has earned more than $200 million for those she has represented.
A good example is a case involving an insulator who was exposed to asbestos while working in refineries and powerhouses throughout Illinois. He died from mesothelioma at 78, leaving behind three children and several grandchildren. Schopfer and her team earned a multi-million-dollar settlement on the family’s behalf.
Another case involved a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after working as a press machine operator at a Chicago-area molding company for 15 years. Schopfer and her team discovered that several of the products used during the molding process contained asbestos. This led to a seven-figure settlement.
“Melissa is that rare attorney who possesses high-level intellect with street smarts and a strong sense of civility rarely seen by lawyers of any age, let alone those under the age of 40,” said Steven Hart, with Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge. “Melissa represents blue-collar workers who are dead or dying from a heinous cancer. She must be compassionate when dealing with her clients and her clients’ families, and yet unrelenting in her approach with those they sue.”