Profiles: Simona Farrise

Simona Farrise

Simona Farrise

JD 93

Attorney & Founding Director at Farrise Law Firm, P.C.

California Super Lawyer


A WOMAN WITHOUT LIMITS

Simona Farrise is one of the country's leading attorneys representing victims of mesothelioma since the 1990s. Each case is tinged with human pathos. A $20 million case she represented was the largest net asbestos verdict ever awarded to a plaintiff in California history at the time.

Growing up on Chicago's working class south side, Simona's dad was a long-haul trucker and her mother worked for the Chicago Transit Authority. While her mother worked sometimes two or three shifts collecting fares at the Chicago train stations, Simona polished her dream of being a trial lawyer who fought injustice. It would be years before she understood what a long shot her dream really had been, but by then, she was on her way to converting that long shot dream into reality. Although the Law School at Golden Gate University from which Simona graduated in 1993 and which named her its Outstanding Alumna in 2007 began admitting women students early in the 20th century, it was an uncommon practice.

Growing up around domestic violence and over-crowded public schools with forty-five kids in a classroom, thriving academically would present a challenge for any student. Simona credits her success as much too innate intellect as to her internal resilience. Lessons, as it turned out, that served her well. For eight years Simona worked for lawyers while attending night classes at DePaul University. Going to law school was finally in reach once she'd graduated but still there were obstacles. By chance Simona attended a law school fair being held in Chicago where she met Golden Gate Law's admission representative. Simona was encouraged to apply for admission and also for scholarships. Recognized for its commitment to public interest law and training for trial lawyers with the legendary Bernie Segal, GGU Law provided a solid anchor for Simona.

Fresh out of law school, Simona initially took a clerking position at a Bay Area civil litigation firm that represented injured workers who had been exposed to toxins. Within three years, she was trying her own cases. With her first mesothelioma case in the early 1990s, she found herself competing in a male-dominated field. She became a partner after six years in that firm, first a main partner and then a managing partner.

Eventually Simona decided to spread her wings, launching the Farrise Law Firm. The Los Angeles-based plaintiffs' injury firm with offices also in Northern California and Illinois handles complex trial work and class actions. At her firm, Farrise taps the expertise of women lawyers through open-work arrangements, aided by technology. This working mother of three says that the challenges of being a lawyer and mother are many. It's the age-old conundrum women face: how to be a working professional while married with children. She likens it to being a juggler.

Sheer hard work and determination have carried Simona Farrise out of her working-class Chicago neighborhood to dizzying heights of success in her field. She is the winner of numerous prestigious awards, is one of the California Super Lawyers, and is consistently ranked at the top in her field. In 2013 she was named the Trial Lawyer of the Year by the California Black Lawyers Association, one of many professional awards she's received throughout her career.