Jayne Conroy: Leading the Charge Against the Opioid Epidemic

Jayne Conroy

Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Jayne Conroy, a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy. As a leader in the complex litigation department, Conroy and the firm are at the forefront of unprecedented litigation seeking to resolve the ongoing opioid epidemic, consistently securing billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for those injured by corporate wrongdoing.

AALM: What inspired you to become an attorney?

JC: I was born into a family where problem-solving was the norm. My father, an engineer by trade, was my living example of perseverance and intellectual tenacity. I would watch him embark on numerous projects, each with their own unexpected hurdles. Yet, he faced each with great resolve, and imbued in me the same spirit.

Around the same time, I found myself increasingly drawn to healthcare, where I began to observe a disturbing trend – large corporations causing widespread harm to unsuspecting consumers. This concern evolved into a deep-seated passion for justice, especially for those who fell victim to corporate malfeasance.

It was then that I had my epiphany moment, realizing that my mission was to blend my problem-solving skills with my growing interest in healthcare and corporate accountability. Since then, I have committed my career to holding accountable those who violate the trust and safety of communities nationwide.

AALM: Can you share your motivation for dedicating your legal career to helping those injured by corporate wrongdoing, particularly in the context of the opioid epidemic?

JC: Corporate misconduct doesn’t just damage the immediate recipients; its ramifications can echo through generations, leaving society to grapple with its consequences. Take the opioid epidemic, for instance. It exposed millions of Americans to the crippling grip of addiction, a consequence of reckless practices by the nation’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.

Addiction is a formidable adversary, only exacerbated when corporations behave inappropriately. It’s crucial that we hold these entities accountable, requiring them to contribute to the reversal of the damage they’ve inflicted.

In response to such misconduct, settlements have been oriented toward community healing. Funds are channeled into local communities, amplifying the resources to combat the opioid epidemic. This includes enhanced emergency response teams, increased access to Narcan and naloxone, and other essential resources. The focus is on reclaiming lives and communities from the clutches of the epidemic.

AALM: What has been the most challenging case you have worked on, and how did you approach it?

JC: Two of the most challenging cases I’ve tackled were the multidistrict litigations (MDL) involving the DePuy Artificial Hip Implant Recall and opioid cases.

The DePuy case was particularly challenging due to its technical nature involving defective hip implants. Understanding and presenting complex engineering details in court required a high level of expertise and patience. Despite these challenges, we managed to secure a $1 billion settlement for the victims, which was a testament to our dedicated work.

On the other hand, opioid MDL cases presented a whole different set of complexities. These often involved multiple defendants, ranging from pharmaceutical companies to physicians, as well as countless plaintiffs. Ensuring that each plaintiff’s claim was adequately represented while navigating through intricate legal theories and scientific evidence related to addiction required an enormous amount of coordination and attention to detail.

Although each type of case presented unique challenges, they both significantly contributed to refining my skills as an attorney in handling complex litigation cases involving multiple parties and technical evidence.

AALM: With the opioid epidemic being such a widespread and complex issue, how do you approach prioritizing and managing the various cases and responsibilities?

JC: Navigating the vast landscape of the opioid epidemic involves strategic prioritization and collaborative efforts. This crisis impacts countless individuals and communities, demanding collective legal action. Fortunately, numerous U.S. law firms share our goal of holding corporations accountable for their roles in fueling this epidemic.

By uniting our efforts, we have created a formidable, nationwide force that enables us to handle the complexity of these cases more efficiently. I am so privileged to get to work with an exceptional team of attorneys, and it’s through our collective endeavor that we’ve been able to make significant strides.

AALM: As a leader in your field, what advice would you give to aspiring attorneys who are interested in pursuing a career in law?

JC: Embarking on a legal career demands dedication, patience, and a readiness to adapt. Oftentimes, the cases we encounter are intricate and lengthy, requiring perseverance and an unwavering commitment to resolution. Collaboration is also essential – managing diverse personalities and mediating conflicts are indispensable skills in our field.

Further, technological proficiency is no longer just optional. As legal proceedings shift to virtual platforms, understanding and leveraging technology can save valuable time and prevent confusion. I strongly encourage aspiring attorneys to stay up-to-date on tech advancements as they become integral tools in modern legal practice.

AALM: Beyond your legal work, what are some initiatives or efforts you are involved in?

JC: Beyond my legal practice, I actively engage with young lawyers and law students around the country, discussing landmark cases and the impact of corporate malfeasance. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness the upcoming generation of attorneys show keen interest in championing public interest and social justice.

I also spend time speaking and meeting with legal organizations across the country. Additionally, whenever I’m working on a case that impacts a specific community, such as the recent train derailment in East Palestine, it’s important that I take the time to meet with local residents and understand how they have personally been affected to make sure our work assists them long term.

AALM: How do you prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance while handling high-stakes and emotionally challenging cases?

JC: I try to spend as much of my free time in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, surrounded by friends and family. Being with them helps me unwind from long days spent reading, writing and reviewing ongoing cases, and is necessary for me to maintain a work-life balance.

AALM: Tell us a little about your life outside the office.

JC: When I’m not working, my favorite pastimes are gardening, cooking and boating, as well as searching for the perfect vintage fashion and home décor items.

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