With years of experience as both a litigator and an employment attorney, Emily Wessel Farr advises employers on a wide-range of issues such as civil rights violations, harassment and discrimination, protection of trade secrets, NLRB matters, peer review and credentialing and HR training. She regularly advises businesses on corporate matters including insurance coverage, breach of contract, unfair labor practices, civil rights and ADA violations, disciplinary actions and licensing issues. Emily is also a member of Gould & Ratner’s Construction Practice, and provides counsel to owners and developers on matters related to construction contract drafting, claims resolution, OSHA considerations and insurance needs.

Before joining Gould & Ratner, Emily founded Farr & Farr, a Chicago-based law firm focused on litigation and employment matters. She is also admitted to practice in North Carolina, where she spent several years representing corporations and medical practice groups in a variety of matters affecting their businesses and has spent significant time litigating civil rights cases in federal court. In 2018, she was named one of Crain’s “Notable Women Lawyers” and has been recognized as a Rising Star in employment law by Super Lawyers magazine for 2019 and 2020.

In addition to her practice, Emily is actively involved in several legal organizations. For the past three years, she has served as a volunteer Child Advocate for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. Emily is a member of several bar associations, and most recently served as an editor of The Woman Advocate, a publication of the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section. She also volunteers her time to several community service initiatives such as a leadership member of the Associate Board of the Greater Chicago Food Depository and as a founder and co-lead of her local Moms Demand Action chapter.

Emily provides thoughtful (yet efficient) counsel, and enjoys educating her clients so they can protect their companies. Most recently, during the COVID-19 crisis, Emily has counseled clients on their insurance coverage, PPP loans, and the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. She frequently presents on a variety of employment-related topics including sexual harassment (required for Illinois employers beginning in 2020), discrimination, LGBTQ-IQ rights, hostile work environments, implementation and use of employee handbooks, and how to avoid liability at your annual holiday office party. Emily also trains management on supervisor liability, misclassification of independent contractors, paid sick leave, protecting trade secrets, how to effectively handle employee interviews, performance reviews, and investigations. 

Emily earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University, where she was Executive Co-Chair of Dance Marathon, one of the largest student-run non-profits in the nation.

Credentials

Education

  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 2008
  • Northwestern University, B.A., Political Science, 2003

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • North Carolina

Court Admissions

  • Federal Trial Bar, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Associate Board Member (Leadership), The Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • Leadership Circle, Northwestern University (Co-Chair, Ten and Fifteen Year Reunion)

Key Cases or Transactions

  • Represented an Illinois-based corporation in a declaratory action filed by an insurer.
  • Represented and successfully negotiated multiple settlements with former employees.
  • Counseled dozens of businesses in issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccination, masking, remote/hybrid work, and return to work.
  • Counseled multiple corporations at the startup phase on employment agreements, offer letters for key employees, policies and procedures, and restrictive covenants.
  • Represented multiple companies in defense of Illinois Department of Employment Security unemployment claims.
  • Assisted several multi-state employers with updating HR handbooks to comply with obligations under various state local and federal laws.
  • Conducted regular harassment prevention trainings in person and over Zoom for a variety of companies and organizations.
  • Represented a Chicago-based digital healthcare agency in its sale to a global commercialization partner for the life sciences industry.
  • Represented a technology managed services firm in settling a complex and highly contested lawsuit.
  • Tried to verdict two federal jury trials resulting in win for clients on all counts (2016 and 2019).
  • Obtained settlement on behalf of startup in Department of Labor wage and hour claim.
  • Defended and later won appeal of unemployment claim against family-owned business.
  • Advised marketing company on CAN-SPAM and TCPA compliance.
  • Drafted multistate handbook for growing healthcare company.

Publications

Testimonials

  • "Emily's been an invaluable resource and asset to our organization. Regardless of how many companies she works with, she always makes us feel like we are her most important client."
  • "In a world of complex and ever-changing employment/HR laws, we rely on the support and guidance of Emily Farr. Emily has the desire, energy, and intelligence to successfully guide our small business; she is at the forefront of her field, and handles any matter we have, large or small. Always prompt, thorough and professional, Emily shows she cares about her clients and their matters. Thank you, Emily!"
  • "I have been through ALOT of those trainings over the years. Yours was by far the best!"