Trial lawyer Paul Farrell Jr. ’94 credits Notre Dame with giving him the background and confidence to make a difference in the world.
“What this place nurtured in me is the fire to fight for those who can't fight for themselves,” said Farrell, the founding partner of Farrell & Fuller LLC.
The government (now political science) major commended the College of Arts & Letters for providing a comprehensive education that enabled him to see the big picture and understand context and patterns — which has been invaluable throughout his law career.
“We have to find the patterns in life and then once we find the patterns then we can study the root causes, the influences, and affect outcome,” he said.
Farrell learned the lessons well; he’s won major medical malpractice cases and led landmark litigation against opioid prescription drug manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers.
He was named co-leader of litigation involving 2,700 pending cases alleging that manufacturers of prescription opioids misrepresented risks of their long-term use for chronic pain, and that distributors didn’t properly monitor suspicious prescription drug orders.
Last year, a number of states and localities accepted terms of a $26 billion offer — from a pharmaceutical manufacturer and three major drug distributors — to settle thousands of civil claims related to the opioid crisis. Eighty-five percent of the payout was slated for addiction treatment and prevention services, according to The New York Times.
For his outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession, Farrell received the 2023 Justitia Officium Award from the West Virginia University College of Law.
Even as a first-year student at Notre Dame, Farrell recognized that he was at a special place.
“This is an aspiration for a lot of people … On the first night in your dorm, you realize you’re surrounded with people from all over the country that have come in with the same general purpose of making a difference,” he said.
“And that comes with it a responsibility to take it back home.”