The ELA is proud to welcome our newest member firm: LOGOS  in Iceland!
The ELA is proud to welcome our newest member firm: LOGOS  in Iceland!
Mary Ellen Simonson

Mary Ellen Simonson
Arizona Employment Lawyer


Ms. Simonson has 33 years of experience in representing a variety of businesses and employers in both litigation and counseling, including serving as national employment counsel for a multi-billion dollar company. Her practice includes daily advice to employers on compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws; drafting and advising on executive employment agreements; handling EEOC and DOL matters; advice and litigation regarding non-competition and non-solicitation agreements; advice and litigation regarding wrongful termination issues; and coordinating and handling a wide array of employment litigation and employment arbitrations on a national basis. She has successfully briefed and argued appeals before the Ninth Circuit and Arizona State Court of Appeals, and recently briefed and argued before the Arizona Supreme Court an issue of statewide importance to all public employers. Ms. Simonson also has substantial experience in school law, including representation of Arizona’s largest secondary schools and one of the nation’s largest community college districts. She routinely takes a proactive approach to counseling employers about ways to avoid costly litigation, manage employee performance, and make practical, sound human resource decisions to help avoid or minimize wrongful termination, discrimination, disability, and other avoidable claims.

Representative Cases:

  • Obtained summary judgment in state court on eight of ten claims, and later obtained directed verdict at trial on remaining two claims in a $2 million dispute in which plaintiff (former employee) claimed employer (national hotel chain) was vicariously liable for off-premises conduct of former supervisor.
  • Settled for de minimis amount a $1 million lawsuit against Fortune 500 employer after limited depositions, persuasive settlement conference memorandum, and strategic participation in federal court settlement conference.
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice in U.S. District Court of an $8 million commercial dispute against a major health care entity, following successful motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.
  • Successfully defended a Fortune 500 company on summary judgment motions in U.S. District Court involving breach of contract/warranties, affirmed on appeal to Ninth Circuit.
  • Successfully defended a major lending institution in a complex lender liability case which settled for a minor "nuisance" amount immediately after deposing plaintiff.
  • Lead trial and appellate counsel in the first case in the nation to uphold the constitutionality of a mandatory school uniform policy in a public school.

Professional Activities:

Prior to joining the firm in 1986, Ms. Simonson was Law Clerk to The Honorable Earl H. Carroll of the United States District Court from 1983-85. Ms. Simonson was selected in 1999 to be the first female lawyer to Chair the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. She was a lawyer representative, selected by the Arizona District Court judges, from 1994-96, and was selected in 1996 as Chair of the Arizona lawyer representatives to the Ninth Circuit. She chaired the 1996 Arizona Federal District Court Conference.

Ms. Simonson has served as a judge pro tem for the Arizona Court of Appeals, was a member of the initial Commission on Judicial Performance Review appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court, and has been selected annually since 1996 to do judicial performance reviews of state court judges. Ms. Simonson has been appointed by several Arizona State Bar Presidents to serve on the Civil Jury Instruction Committee; her subcommittee revised Arizona's contract jury instructions. She was a special assistant to Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt from 1985-86. From 1973-76, Ms. Simonson was chief administrative assistant at the Arizona House of Representatives; was a reporter for The Arizona Republic from 1970-72; and was a correspondent/stringer for the New York Times from 1970-75.

Community Activities:

Ms. Simonson is extremely active in the community, including currently serving as Chair of the Board for Arizona Women's Education and Employment/AWEE and as a recent appointee to the Governor's Inaugural Committee. She served on the Boards of Directors of the Herberger Theater and Social Venture Partners. She was appointed by the Mayor of Phoenix to Co-Chair the first Phoenix Commission on Excellence in Education, along with Co-Chair O. Mark DeMichele, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Arizona Public Service Company.

Special Recognitions:

Ms. Simonson is rated by Martindale Hubbell as a "Preeminent Attorney." She was the 2005 Recipient of the prestigious Athena Award as "Businesswoman of the Year" given by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and in 2000 was an Honoree in the State Bar's selection of the outstanding "100 Women and Minority Lawyers" in Arizona.

Bar Affiliations:

Ms. Simonson is a member of the Federal Bar Association, Maricopa County Bar Association, State Bar of Arizona, Arizona Women Lawyers' Association, and the Fellows of American Bar Foundation.


Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1983 Arizona State University, B.A., 1971

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