August 15, 2018

Zeeck’s pro bono work led to a statewide smoking ban in Missouri correctional facilities 

Polsinelli litigation attorney Phillip Zeeck has earned the Missouri Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Publico Award, which honors Missouri lawyers for their exemplary professional commitment in pro bono service.

Zeeck will be recognized during The Missouri Bar’s Annual Meeting at its Missouri Bar Foundation & Public Service Awards Luncheon Sept. 26 in St. Louis. The Pro Bono Publico Award is presented to four Missouri attorneys or organizations who have, within the past year, dedicated outstanding pro bono service to persons of limited means in need of legal assistance. A member of Polsinelli’s national Commercial Litigation practice, Zeeck supports clients from Polsinelli’s office in Kansas City, Mo.  

“Phil is deserving of all that this award embodies. He is dedicated to his clients’ success, and we applaud his pledge to undertake pro bono trial work, which he approaches with intention and fervor,” said Litigation Department Chair Russ Jones, Jr. “As we continue our commitment to represent individuals and nonprofit organizations that cannot afford representation, it is a privilege to watch Phil grow in our pro bono initiatives.”

In April 2017, Zeeck co-represented plaintiff Ecclesiastical Washington with former Polsinelli shareholder Michael Foster in a trial claiming that various Missouri prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Washington’s serious health needs and failed to take reasonable measures to keep him free from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Zeeck and Foster spent hundreds of hours preparing for and representing Washington at trial.

Their dedicated pro bono commitment won Washington $40,000 in damages and a complete smoking ban for correctional facilities in the entire state. To ensure health and well-being of Department of Corrections staff and offenders, Missouri prisons were ordered to be entirely smoke-free by April 1, 2018. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Missouri Bar Foundation with this award,” Zeeck said. “Pro bono work is as important to me and Polsinelli as the work we do for our paying clients. Polsinelli believes in supporting an array of worthy causes, and I hope to inspire and encourage other lawyers to use their legal skills to support civic and community efforts.”

Zeeck’s pro bono trial work was recently recognized with the 2018 Legal Champion Award from Missouri Lawyers Weekly for the success of the Washington trial. In addition to his pro bono work, Zeeck’s commercial litigation practice focuses on resolving client dispute through resolution, summary judgement, trial and appeal.

“Our firm believes in doing the right thing for those in need, and our culture embraces pro bono services,” said Polsinelli’s Director of Pro Bono Services Michelle Clardy Dobbs. “We’re proud of Phil’s dedication to Mr. Washington’s case, which resulted in a sweeping new policy throughout the state of Missouri’s correctional facilities.”

Polsinelli’s pro bono commitment to individuals and nonprofit organizations is robust. Firm attorneys provide pro bono legal services across the firm’s 21 offices nationwide providing critical representation to individuals, veterans, families and children who cannot afford legal representation in areas including, guardianships, immigration and asylum, civil rights, housing and homelessness, and economic development and urban revitalization. Attorneys also work closely with a number of non-profit organizations that provide critical support and care to those in need. 

Earlier this summer, Polsinelli was recognized for its commitment to and participation in the Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s Volunteer Attorney Project, in which the firm accepted more than 15 pro bono guardianship cases, handled numerous matters through the Adopt-A-Neighborhood program, and performed 10,230 pro bono hours for the year in Kansas City.


About Polsinelli

Polsinelli is an Am Law 100 firm with more than 825 attorneys in 21 offices.  Ranked #24 for Client Service Excellence1 and #10 for best client relationships2 among 650 U.S. law firms, Polsinelli is also named among the top 30 best-known firms in the nationfor the second consecutive year. The firm’s attorneys provide value through practical legal counsel infused with business insight and a focus on health care, financial services, real estate, intellectual property, mid-market corporate, labor and employment, and business litigation.  |  Polsinelli PC | In California, Polsinelli LLP

12018 BTI Client Service A-Team Report

22017 BTI Industry Power Rankings

32018 BTI Brand Elite