Spotlight on Jessica Sharrow Thompson
February 26, 2019
Jessica Sharrow Thompson joined the Pittsburgh office in 2009. She grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and now resides in the South Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh with her husband Phil and their energetic Rat Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Allegheny. (“Allie for short.”) Their home is just a few blocks from where the large J&L steel plant operated “before it was demolished and turned into a mixed-use retail, commercial, and residential development,” Jessica says. This may seem like a random factoid, but it is actually a great segue into Jessica’s legal practice.
At Eckert Seamans, Jessica provides counseling and litigation representation in connection with the many federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulatory programs. She also assists clients in connection with oil and gas development issues in the Marcellus Shale, including environmental permitting, compliance, and enforcement actions. Additionally, Jessica assists clients in transactions involving environmental issues.
What led you to pursue a career in law?
Organic chemistry was a prerequisite for the environmental sciences graduate programs that I was considering. During my senior year, after the first few weeks of taking organic chemistry, I changed the class to pass/fail and decided to start studying for the LSAT instead. I thoroughly enjoyed the few environmental policy classes that I took as part of my environmental sciences major so environmental law seemed like a much better fit than stressing out over organic chemistry!
What do you enjoy most about your practice?
Environmental law is constantly changing and evolving. There is always something new to learn, which I thoroughly enjoy. Environmental law is fundamentally grounded in science, so I enjoy being able to apply my environmental sciences background in my legal practice. And last, but not least, the clients I get to work with are amazing and always have unique challenges for us to work on. Some of those challenges have given me the opportunity to speak about certain environmental law issues in the media.
What was your most memorable trip/vaction?
It’s a tie between Greece and Spain on trips with my husband. In Greece, our favorite place was the island of Naxos, which not visited by too many foreign tourists, so it felt very authentic. In Spain, one of the places we visited was San Sebastián, a tiny city that is has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. We had the best meal of our lives (so far) at a Michelin three-star restaurant a top a cliff that overlooked the city and bay.
Who/what inspires you?
My mom, Susan Sharrow. She is a recognized pioneer in the field of flow cytometry (basically, a technique to efficiently analyze and sort millions of cells) and she started the first flow cytometry lab on the East Coast at NIH. She worked full-time at this high level while still being a fantastic mom to me and my sister. She drove us to countless sports practices, games, and horse shows. She made it seem effortless, and as I get older, I have no idea how she did it all!
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
My childhood home in Chevy Chase was only a couple of miles from a horse barn so I started riding horses around eight-years-old. I competed at the national level in hunters and equitation while I was in high school and I was the captain of the equestrian team in college at UNC-Chapel Hill. It’s been several years since I have ridden a horse due to shoulder surgeries, but I hope to start again soon. Also, I have never owned a horse of my own, but I hope to do so in the future.
What song instantly puts you in a good mood?
Africa by Toto. I really have no idea why except that it is incredibly catchy. I had asked our wedding band to play it at our wedding reception in 2015, but it was apparently too “complicated.” However, much to my surprise, a couple of our wedding guests convinced the band to allow them to sing it at the very end of our reception and the band ended up joining in and playing the song!