For Sharon Simmons-Cantrell, the law is a true family business. Not merely because of her initial connection to the firm through her uncle, but also because of the spirit with which her firm welcomes the clients it represents in a wide range of personal injury matters. The Houston-based firm Simmons & Fletcher has totaled impressive verdicts and settlements for clients for more than four decades. Cantrell has been practicing in the field since graduating from the University of Houston Law Center in 1991.
Lawdragon: How did you come to running your own personal injury firm?
Sharon Simmons-Cantrell: My late uncle, Robert Simmons, owned the firm with his late partner, Keith Fletcher. Robert passed away in 2020, and Keith passed away in 2019. I bought the firm at the end of 2020 with my partners, Chris Fletcher and Paul Cannon. Chris Fletcher is Keith’s son. Robert and Keith both shaped me into who I am today.
LD: When did you officially take over? And what was that like for you?
SSC: We bought the firm in 2020. It was a great move after all these years! Once we owned the firm we made big changes to keep us competitive with other firms, reducing office space, overhead, other expenses, and upgrading software. With Covid-19 we had to adapt as well to remote working for everyone including the receptionist.
Buying the existing firm had some adjustments but I feel as though we are in a good place now with the three partners: Chris Fletcher, Paul Cannon and myself. We each bring a different skill to the table in making the firm successful. If you don’t know how to do something, surround yourself with people who do! As a first time President of a company, I’m learning the ropes of owning a business. Also, I’m juggling between HR issues within the office and working up cases for my clients.
We have decreased the number of attorneys from six to three and still have the same volume of files with less people. We are proud of this change!
LD: How would you describe your style as a lawyer?
SSC: Compassionate, kind, driven. Methodical and a hard worker.
LD: What are some aspects about a plaintiffs’ personal injury practice that you enjoy?
SSC: I love to have a great recovery where my clients are extremely happy with the results. I love to see others happy! I also love the “chase” in dealing with insurance companies. I do truly love using my negotiating skills in obtaining the best results for my clients. I love the hugs at the end from the client. It says a “job well done!” The clients are not just clients, but I feel that they are part of the S&F family now. I am always here to help them.
LD: Even with the family connections, did you ever think about doing anything else?
SS: I did work at a psychologist’s office in high school and then I worked at S&F in college beginning in 1984, white attending Texas A&M. It was part-time work doing every job up here: receptionist, file clerk, accounting department, case manager. I would work in the summers and over Christmas breaks. It was not my intent to stay at S&F. I actually applied to work at the DA’s office but it took forever to hear back, so while waiting to hear from the DA I was a law clerk for Keith Fletcher.
In college my major was psychology. When I was graduating from college I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue with a master’s in psychology or go to law school. I realized that I really couldn’t fix people but that I could still use my skills as a lawyer. I grew up in Houston so the University of Houston Law Center was the most likely choice to stay local.
Money is not everything. You should choose your law practice and career based on what makes you happy and brings you joy. Have passion for what you are doing.
When I began my law career, I clerked for Keith and worked beside him for the first five years in litigation. At that time we had layoffs, and I took over the pre-litigation section of the firm which I have been around for the past 25 years.
LD: What advice do you now have for law students?
SSC: Money is not everything. You should choose your law practice and career based on what makes you happy and brings you joy. Have passion for what you are doing.
LD: Can you share some strategic plans for your firm in the coming months or years?
SSC: Continue to improve being efficient in our work product so that we can assist our clients better and quicker. There is always room to improve and do better!
LD: There are many high-quality firms out there. What do you try to “sell” about your firm to potential recruits – how is it unique?
SSC: We are proud to be a Christian law firm and have advertised as a Christian firm since the 90s.
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?
SSC: I have been a Girl Scout leader for both of my girls for the past 15 years. One more year left as a Girl Scout leader. I am active as a Deacon at my church. I also play my flute in church on occasion. I love just being around family when they are in town. We have a 24-year old, 20-year old and a 17-year old.