By Ida Ayu (Sabrina) Putri
Farah Tabibkhoei is a commercial litigator who practices in the Global Commercial Disputes group at Reed Smith LLP, an AmLaw 50 law firm. She specializes in complex business disputes, medical device product liability, and managed care. She also advises clients regarding laws and regulations surrounding disruptive technologies such as telehealth and additive manufacturing. Farah is actively involved in recruitment of law students and enjoys mentoring young lawyers and law school applicants. She is a mentor in the Legal Education Access Pipeline (LEAP), which prepares students from underrepresented groups for law school by pairing them with law student-mentors and attorney-mentors to guide them through the application process.
Farah knew that she wanted to be an attorney as early as her teenage years. She competed in mock trial competitions in high school, which sparked a passion for trial advocacy. She graduated from University of California Irvine (UCI) in 2005, magna cum laude, with her B.A. in Political Science. At UCI, she joined the business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, where she networked with fellow students and developed lifelong connections. She graduated with her J.D. from USC Gould School of Law in 2009.
She grew up in a multicultural family and is a child of immigrant-refugees. Her mother is a refugee of the Vietnam War and her father came to America after fleeing the Iranian Revolution to establish a better life. As the first in her family to graduate from law school, she credits her parents for instilling in her the values of hard work and education. Seeing her father work two jobs growing up motivated her to go to law school to support her family and parents financially in their retirement years.
Farah is currently on the Executive Committee of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA). When I asked her about her role models in the legal field, Jessica Kronstadt (president of WLALA and Deputy District Attorney for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office) and Amber Finch (equity partner at Reed Smith) stood out for their leadership skills, vision, and empowerment of women and minorities including law students, attorneys, and entrepreneurs.
When I asked about the role of womxn of color in the legal field, Farah explained that while some progress has been made, there is a long way to go for womxn of color to have equal representation in the legal profession and ascend to the highest ranks especially in law firms. She encourages womxn of color to find one or more mentors who can offer guidance, support, networks, and opportunities for growth and advancement through each stage of your career. She would advise to be open to learning and to evolve because what you think you may want to do may change. When you reach success, reach out and help others to succeed by showing and leading the way. Become active in your alumni and community organizations as well as local bar associations, and continue to build and maintain relationships.
The next 5 to 10 years, Farah is looking forward to growing her own law practice, starting a family, taking WLALA to new heights, and opening doors and providing opportunities for other womxn of color to thrive in the legal profession.
As we ended our conversation, Farah’s advice to all womxn of color and minorities pursuing a career in the legal profession is to not give up. Bar associations like WLALA offer resources, mentoring, and scholarships to law students. It is not an easy journey but if you are determined and resourceful, you will succeed. Don’t be shy to seek out guidance, mentorship, support and resources from someone who has walked the path before you. It will prove invaluable.