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Yvonne Flaherty’s latest focus is representing people alleging that Roundup weedkiller caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (File photo)
Yvonne Flaherty’s latest focus is representing people alleging that Roundup weedkiller caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (File photo)

Breaking the Ice: Representing people who ‘don’t have a voice’

Yvonne Flaherty, partner at Lockridge Grindal Nauen, wants everyone to have access to the courts — especially those injured by defective drugs and medical devices.

That desire has led Flaherty to spend more than two decades building her national practice.

“I grew up in a small town and have seen what happens when people don’t have a voice or don’t understand the process,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty’s latest focus is representing people alleging that Monsanto Co.’s Roundup weedkiller caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (Monsanto was acquired by Bayer AG in 2018.)

Flaherty serves on an executive committee overseeing federal Roundup litigation, appointed by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California.

“It’s been an uphill battle but we’ve definitely had some success and continue to push forward,” Flaherty said.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me about the Minnesota Vikings. I am a tried-and-true fan. They have broken my heart many years. But I know one of these days they’re going to get to that Super Bowl.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: It started with my high school civics courses and the book, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In college I pursued courses related to constitutional law and American government. Law school became the natural next step.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: I try to find a balance between books that help with personal or professional growth but also some that are purely entertainment. Recently, it’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “How to Unclutter Your Life.” But on the other end a book about Erica Jayne, a biography that is much lighter reading.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: Laziness and people taking credit for other people’s work.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: I enjoy the challenges. The law is constantly in flux. I enjoy that you’re always learning and always growing. I also enjoy the ability to work with a number of different people and lawyers from across the country.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Billing and timekeeping, the administrative stuff.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: Playing tennis. I played on teams when I was younger, and over the past several years have picked the game up again. It’s a great way to escape that day-to-day thought process of the law. Beyond that, I love to travel.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: I would take them to the little restaurant where I had my very first job. It’s a little cafe in Farmington and I started working there when I was 15. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about life and communicating with people. Then I would take them to the street where I grew up. My parents still live on that street, as do the parents of a number of my friends.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most—and why?

A: [The late] Hugh Plunkett, a lawyer that I worked with for a number of years and I learned a tremendous amount from. Most importantly with him I learned that what a witness or document doesn’t say is just as important as what a document does say.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: I would tell a non-lawyer that the practice of law is not necessarily what it’s like on television. Also that we’re people as well. It’s important to step away from that lawyer role and remember that you’re an individual person. When meeting new lawyers it’s important to get to know them as a person.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” of course, and the movie as well. And “A Time to Kill,” which is somewhat based off of it.

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