When associate attorney Jessica Russell was going through law school, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to blend her love of the law with a passion for helping people. After receiving a B.S. degree in social work from the University of Kansas in 2003 and a J.D. from the University of Denver School of Law in 2006, she’s done just that, focusing her practice on assisting clients suffering from asbestos-related diseases.
At Belluck & Fox, where she’s practiced since 2009, Russell travels extensively to meet with clients and their families, conduct depositions, and assist other attorneys in the firm in development of cases.
“There’s a lot of investigative work that goes into these cases,” she says. “Usually, the exposure has occurred 15 or even 60 years ago, so there’s a lot of tracking down information to figure out where they were exposed.”
Cases involving asbestos exposure can be emotional for everyone concerned, Russell points out, because individuals with these diseases usually decline very quickly and families must come to grips with the reality that little can be done to stop the advancement of the disease. In assisting these families, Russell makes sure that she is always available to provide answers and support, providing client families with her cell-phone number and encouraging them to phone whenever they feel the need.
“That’s the side of it that brings out my social-work background,” she says. “Unfortunately, we have yet to find a cure for mesothelioma, but I try to help clients and family member cope as much as I can. It’s both the hardest part of my job because it’s so draining and the best part because I really think that I’m helping people. I’m someone they can talk to when things are so confusing and overwhelming.”
Russell recently took her commitment to finding a cure for mesothelioma to new heights by rappelling down a 34-story building in the New York metro area. The event was part of the American Cancer Society’s “Over The Edge” fundraiser, a daring campaign that raised $271,000 for cancer research.
In her limited spare time, Russell pursues another helping endeavor as a volunteer for the East Harlem School, a year-round middle school dedicated to developing academic excellence and moral integrity in children of low-income families.
Her other personal interests include running and spectator sports.
- University of Denver School of Law
- University of Kansas, Bachelor’s of Social Work
Areas of Practice
- Member, New York State Trial Association
- Member, New York Bar Association
- Member, New York County Lawyers Association
Admitted to practice in New York State