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Kansas City’s largest law firm to open St. Louis office focused on environmental and toxic exposure cases

Kansas City’s largest law firm to open St. Louis office focused on environmental and toxic exposure cases

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ST. LOUIS — A top Kansas City-based law firm is making inroads in St. Louis, amid a spurt of expansion in cities across the country.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon announced Thursday that it plans to open a St. Louis office, focused on environmental and toxic tort lawsuits — cases that feature claims of harmful exposure to various chemical and compounds. The firm, whose St. Louis location will be anchored by 10 to 15 lawyers and paralegals, works on the defendants’ side in such cases.

“We represent companies who get sued for these kinds of things,” said Dave Erickson, the co-chair of the firm’s division focused on environmental and toxic tort law.

The firm touts itself as the largest in Kansas City and as the 102nd- largest in the U.S. Although it regularly handles cases in St. Louis, the expansion will mark the first time it has had an office in the area. The firm also recently expanded in New York City and Seattle.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon has represented oil companies, soft drink manufacturers and “pretty much anybody who has any kind of manufacturing operation,” said Erickson. Locally, the firm’s list of clients has included petrochemical refineries in the Metro East, as well as Mallinckrodt, in cases tied to radioactive waste disputes stemming from St. Louis’ involvement with the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Environmental and toxic tort cases are not any more prevalent around St. Louis than in other cities the country, the firm said. But it’s a realm of litigation with plenty of activity, across the map.

“It’s probably growing,” said Erickson. “It sure isn’t going away.”

Erickson said the move was driven largely by existing partnerships with lawyers in the area, who have shared common cases and clients. The five incoming partners in the new office — Drey Cooley, Lisa DeBord, Michael Cromwell, Adam Miller and Sue Werstak — all come from the same St. Louis firm, Capes Sokol, according to online profiles.

“We work with lawyers (in St. Louis) on other matters,” said Erickson. “It just made sense to bring them in under our umbrella.”

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