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A Heavy Hitter in Plaintiff Law.

Finding Success One “Right Thing” at a Time

Doing the right thing—whether at the office, in the courtroom, and especially at home—builds credibility. “Credibility is essential in advocacy. A reputation for integrity takes a lifetime to build and only a second to lose,” says Bibianne “Bibi” Fell, founder of Fell Law, PC.
Fell, who opened her firm in January, is recognized as one of the best plaintiff’s lawyers in the nation. She is one of the few attorneys to earn a verdict of more than $100 million, one of the top ten verdicts in the country. She boasts the number-two dollar verdict in California and a number one Intentional Tort verdict in 2008. She also boasts a successful family life regardless of the challenges faced in her profession.

Carrying on a Family Tradition

Fell, who was raised in a small community on the island of O’ahu, decided to become a lawyer at age four. She is a fourth-generation lawyer. Her grandfather was a lawyer, her dad and two uncles are lawyers, and her cousin is a lawyer. She is the first woman lawyer in the family. But soon the fourth generation will not be the last. Her middle daughter Alexa, age 13, is planning on becoming the family’s fifth generation attorney.
She is often asked how she balanced work and home life. “It was really hard. I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support of my family,” she says. Early in her practice when she first started trying cases, she was a single mom with daughters two and four years old. Their father was in the Navy and deployed during much of their early childhood. In one particularly lengthy trial her father flew in and handled most of the family chores for six months. He walked the kids to and from school, prepared meals, and took care of all their daily needs while Fell was in trial in another city. It was a reversal of her early home life in which she was raised primarily by her mother because her father was often in trial. “My family jokes about it being a case of ‘payback,’” she says.
Fell says, “Being a single mom with a heavy litigation practice was tough. When I look back on that time, I’m surprised at what I was able to accomplish while raising my girls. I guess you never know what you’re capable of until you’re put into the situation where you have to step up to the challenge.”

Tenaciousness and Trust

Fell represents individual people and families in what is most often the worst moment of their lives. Building and maintaining a high level of trust is an essential element in the ultimate success of achieving their goals in the legal system. “I love representing these people,” she says.
Her faith in being on the right side of justice makes Fell a tenacious lawyer who keeps digging until she finds the best way to overcome whatever hurdle a case may throw in her path. She puts in the necessary hours or days in research, finding arguments by analogy, or arguing for a change in existing case law so that even if the issue is lost, each client knows she put everything she has into the effort.
A tenacious approach, one that doesn’t settle for the apparently obvious or easy path, often leads her to innovative and creative solutions. For example, she successfully argued that live animals sold as pets should be treated like products for purposes of strict products liability. She is known for being creative and smart and, when backed into a legal corner, comes out fighting for the win. Her cases not only involve addressing past injuries, but also provide for the future well-being of clients in real need. One of those cases involved a five-year-old girl with Downs syndrome. The money in that case represented the child’s future security. Her parents’ worst fear was what will happen when they are not around to care for her. Because of Fell’s efforts the child will be able to live with her family and not in a state facility. Fell says that in her cases it’s not about the money. It’s about what the money can do to effect positive change and restore dignity in a client’s life.
“I used to represent big business and I made a lot of shareholders a bit of money, but here I get to watch the transformation of someone who has been through something horrific, through their recovery and into a future that has meaning and hope. Now they can afford to go back to school and get retrained because physically they can’t do their old job. They can afford to have someone come into their home to care for them, so they don’t have to be separated from family,” she says.
A former client, Dawn Kali, wrote, “Bibi Fell changed my life. She believed in me and my case, when no one else would. Her dedication, kindness, integrity, and determination helped me face my difficult and emotional case. Not only did she win my case, she changed my life. She gave me the validation I needed to move forward. Bibi Fell is not only an incredible lawyer, but she is an incredible human being.”
Likeability and the human touch may seem out of place in earning such a remarkable record, but they are key factors in Fell’s success. She says, “When it comes to my edge over the competition, I think it’s that personal touch and the time that I spend with each client. An attorney cannot truly convey value of what a client has lost because of injury unless that attorney really knows his or her client on a personal level. I take the time to understand their lives and what is meaningful to them.”

Do the Right Thing

Every TimeFell says she enjoyed the intellectual rigor of complex corporate litigation, but never felt that she was doing something personally meaningful. When she began doing plaintiff’s work, she realized she was making a big impact on one person’s life one person at a time. “That feels very meaningful to me. I enjoy the parts about plaintiff’s work that might turn others off, such as the time spent with the client, receiving phone calls about not only the case, but whatever else is burdensome, or helping someone who has never encountered the legal system to make sense of litigation. I take a lot of late-night and weekend distress calls. If I was to choose another profession, I’d probably be a therapist,” she says.
Her personal philosophy is to “do the right thing every time.” It’s a philosophy that she applies equally to clients, her staff and attorneys she works with on a referral basis.
“I always put my employees first. If your employees are not happy, you’re not going to get good work from them. It’s important to assure them that they are valued as a person.”
Fell believes one of her main responsibilities is to teach her employees.
“My number one job with a young lawyer is to teach him how to do what I do. I hope they do that even better because that frees me up to try cases and conduct high-level strategy. I want to give my employees as much or more than what they are giving to me. It keeps them happy, they work hard, and they see a future.”
Doing the right thing every time also attracts continuing referrals from other attorneys and law firms. Her experience includes working with others at different capacities from handling referrals, to taking over shortly before trial, to 50/50 co-counsel relationships. “It’s important to me that the lawyers I work with are happy that they brought me on. I work very hard to ease co-counsel’s workload, provide expertise my co-counsel may not have, and dramatically increase settlement/trial value so that it pays to bring me on board,” she says.

Doing the Right Things Outside the Office

Fell and her husband, Trevor, have been married five years and are raising five children: Isabel, Alexa, Madelyn, Benedict, and Rebecca. She has been a resident of San Diego since 1998.When growing up in O’ahu, she was an avid surfer. Finding the local ocean waters a bit too cold for that, she took up a new physically active hobby—salsa dancing. She turned professional, placing internationally in professional competitions, teaching and performing at International Salsa Congresses, and dancing for a local dance company. She even owned her own dance company prior to becoming licensed to practice law.
She and her family love being outdoors, especially rock climbing, swimming, running, biking, paddle boarding, and, when in Hawaii, she still finds time to surf.
Fell is on the advisory board of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and is a Program Director for the NITA Pacific Regional Deposition Skills program. She has taught for NITA for 10 years throughout the United States and in Northern Ireland.
She also hosts a weekly small group of families with young children at her home through her church, Maranatha Chapel.
Teaching remains part of her life out of the office. Last year she taught Advanced Trial Advocacy at the USD School of Law, lectured to all 1L students at USD Law on Storytelling, spoke at the Kentucky Justice Association’s annual conference, Co-Chaired the Alliance of Women Trial Lawyer’s annual conference, spoke at CAALA Las Vegas, CAOC’s annual conference, to CASD’s new lawyers, at the National Trucking Association’s San Diego conference, Indiana Association of Justice, CAALA Women’s Conference, was the Program Director for NITA’s Pacific Regional Deposition Skills program, ABA Webinar Series, and San Diego Inn of Court Trial Program.
She chairs the Alliance for Women Trial Lawyers annual conference in New Orleans. Alliance is an organization of women plaintiff lawyers from around the country.

Born to Lead

Fell opened her firm in January with one paralegal, Lupe Frayre. Her plans for Fell Law, PC are to add two attorneys within the next five years, but to maintain a small caseload so that each client gets the full attention they deserve. She says her current biggest challenge is that she did not expect to acquire so much business so quickly.
Fell says that success will follow if you consistently do the right thing at home, in the office and in the courtroom. “That’s my philosophy and it’s worked well for me and the three generations of attorneys before me. As far as being a trial lawyer, I was born to try cases. I couldn’t imagine having as much fun doing anything else.”

Contact
Bibianne Fell
Fell Law, PC
402 W. Broadway, Suite 950
San Diego, CA 92101
(858) 201-3960
www.fellfirm.com

» EDUCATION

  • University of San Diego, School of Law, J.D. magna cum laude, Law Review, Order of the Coif (2004)
  • University of California, San Diego, B.A., Political Science, cum laude, Dean's List (2001)

» HONORS/AWARDS

  • Daily Journal's Top 100 Women Lawyers
  • Superlawyers
  • 2019 Recipient of the Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award by CASD
  • One of three finalists for Consumer Attorneys of San Diego's 2018 "Trial Lawyer of the Year"
  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Top Attorneys in Southern California
  • University of San Diego, School of Law, Rising Star Recent Alumni
  • #2 Plaintiff Verdict in California in 2018
  • #1 Intentional Tort Verdict in California in 2018
  • Top Ten Verdicts in the United States 2018

» MEMBERSHIPS AND AFFILIATIONS

  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Member, Trial College Fellow
  • Alliance of Women Trial Lawyers, Annual Conference Co-Chair
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Advisory Board Member, Program Director, Faculty
  • University of San Diego, School of Law, Adjunct Professor
  • Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, Member
  • Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles, Member
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