Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman changed its name to Wisner Baum in January 2023.

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Frances M. Phares is of counsel to Wisner Baum, where she focuses her practice on personal injury and wrongful death litigation stemming from major transportation disasters, pharmaceutical product liability cases and toxic exposure across the nation.

Ms. Phares earned her law degree from Tulane University Law School and holds an undergraduate degree in Zoology from Louisiana State University. While in law school she clerked for the Orleans Parish District Attorney and tutored Tulane undergraduates in English.

After law school, Fran worked as an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting cases for victims of felony crimes such as armed robbery, theft, rape, child abuse, and murder. During that time, she obtained the first-ever conviction in Louisiana of pharmacists for illegally selling prescription drugs to addicts. Thereafter, she gained much valuable research and writing experience and hands-on exposure to civil litigation as a Law Clerk for the 22nd Judicial District Court in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, Louisiana. She also served for many years as a Magistrate Hearing Officer for child support issues in divorce lawsuits.

Before joining Baum Hedlund (now Wisner Baum), Fran was instrumental in the settlement of over four hundred claims by hemophiliacs for AIDS infection from contaminated blood products. At Wisner Baum she has worked to eliminate laws protecting tobacco companies from lawsuits by successfully urging the California Supreme Court to reject the notion that smokers are presumed to know that smoking is addictive and that smoking causes health hazards. This has cleared the way for long-time smokers to file claims for injuries which may have occurred decades after a smoker first became addicted to cigarettes. She has also successfully represented the families of antidepressant suicide victims in their cases against drug manufacturers.

Fran has participated in numerous writing and trial-skills seminars. She is a certified suicide-prevention counselor and hospice volunteer and has created a workshop for people who are adjusting to grief, loss and aging issues.

She has traveled to India where she studied global ethics and sociology and partnered with Tibetan refugees in a cultural exchange program. She created a dental program in Dharamsala known as Tibetan Smiles to provide low-cost dental care to the Tibetan community. In an effort to be more attuned to her clients’ needs and provide more empathetic and comprehensive service, obtained a dual master’s degree in pastoral studies and counseling from Loyola University New Orleans.

In her spare time, Fran enjoys visiting art museums, reading historical novels, golfing, playing the piano, fishing, and walking her Welsh Corgi, Windsor. She facilitates a spirituality group for women in her community, volunteers at the local retirement home and serves as a lay pastoral assistant.

How the Tibetan People Made Me a Better Attorney

In 2011, Fran traveled to India, where she studied global ethics and sociology and partnered with Tibetan refugees in a cultural exchange program. We asked her to share her experiences there which have made her more receptive and aware of her clients’ needs. Read more from Frances M. Phares's personal series here.

Practice Areas


  • Louisiana State University (B.S., 1975)
  • Tulane Law School (J.D., 1981)
  • Loyola University New Orleans (Master of Pastoral Studies, 2012)
  • Loyola University New Orleans (M.S. Counseling, 2016)
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2006
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, 2006

Court Admissions

  • Louisiana, 1981
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, 1996
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana, 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 2003
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 2007
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2007
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2007
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 2009
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2010
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado, 2011
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, 2012
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana, 2013
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 2014

Awards and Honors


  • Louisiana State Bar
  • Louisiana State Bar Association
  • 22nd Judicial District Court Bar Association
  • Louisiana Counseling Association
  • American Group Psychotherapy Association
  • American Counseling Association
  • Chi Sigma Iota – Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society International

Government Service

  • Magistrate Ad Hoc: Support Enforcement Division, 22nd Judicial District Court, Louisiana 1990-2003
  • Law Clerk, 22nd Judicial District Court, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, 1983-1990
  • Assistant District Attorney, New Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 1981-1983

Pro Bono and Civic Activities

  • Certified St. Joseph Hospice volunteer
  • Certified LOSS volunteer (counseling to families of suicide victims)
  • Mentors a female student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who is studying international relations and hopes to come to the United States
  • Volunteers every week at Christwood local retirement home, working with older adults in skilled, assisted, and independent living
  • Volunteer work at local Women’s Center where she co-facilitated a care giver’s support group and a grief group
  • Participates at Women’s Creativity Retreat every fall
  • Alzheimer’s conference attendee – to better understand elderly clients suffering from dementia
  • Traveled to Turkey and met with women involved in promoting Turkish women’s craft and art businesses in the United States
  • Participant in Enneagram workshop on personality theory – to better understand clients’ perspectives
  • Attended a “Train the Trainer Workshop” to promote multiculturalism and diversity in the legal field

Published Cases

  • Tucker v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 701 F.Supp.2d 1040 (S.D.Ind.2010) (denying defendant’s learned intermediary defense and further allowing plaintiffs’ experts to testify regarding the causal association between antidepressants and increased suicidal behavior)
  • Forst v. Smithkline Beecham Corp., 639 F.Supp.2d 948 (E.D.Wis.,2009) (holding that plaintiffs’ claims are not preempted by federal law)
  • Forst v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 602 F.Supp.2d 960 (E.D.Wis. 2009) (holding that Wisconsin has not adopted the learned intermediary doctrine and allowing all of plaintiffs’ claims, including, negligence, fraud and punitive damages to proceed to the jury)
  • Cunningham v. SmithKline Beecham, 255 F.R.D. 474 (N.D.Ind. 2009) (ordering defendant to produce documents and awarding sanctions)
  • Knipe v. SmithKline Beecham, 583 F.Supp.2d 602 (E.D.Pa. 2008) (holding that a drug manufacturer owes a duty to warn regarding risks associated with off-label uses and allowing plaintiffs’ claims for compensatory and punitive damages to proceed to the jury)
  • Knipe v. SmithKline Beecham, 583 F.Supp.2d 553 (E.D.Pa 2008) (holding that plaintiffs’ claims are not preempted by federal law)
  • Tucker v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 596 F.Supp.2d 1225 (S.D.Ind. 2008) (granting plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration and holding that plaintiff’s claims are not preempted by federal law)
  • Grisham v. Philip Morris USA 482 F. 3d 1131 (9th Cir., 2007)
  • Grisham v. Philip Morris USA 40 Cal.4th 623, 151 P.3d 1151, 54 Cal.Rptr.3d 735 (2007)
  • Tucker v. GlaxoSmithKline 2006 WL 753128 (S.D. Ind., 2006)
  • Grisham v. Philip Morris USA 403 F.3d 631 (9th Cir., 2005)
  • Smith v. Cutter Biological 770 So.2d 392 (La. App. 4th Cir., 2000)
  • Doe v. Parauka 714 So. 2d 701 (La., 1998)
  • State v. Marquer 446 So. 2d 1258 (La. App. 4th Cir., 1984)
  • State v. Paquette 423 So. 2d 797 (La. App. 4th Cir., 1982)

Notable Media Appearances


  • AIDS Weekly & Law
  • Andrews Litigation Reporters
  • BNA (Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.)
  • Fulton County Daily Report
  • Harris Martin Publishing, Columns: Drugs & Supplements
  • Mealey’s Emerging Drugs & Devices
  • Mealey’s Litigation Report: Antidepressant Report
  • Mealey’s Litigation Report: Tobacco
  • Pennsylvania Law Weekly
  • Pharmalot
  • The Legal Intelligencer
  • Westlaw Journals

  • Client Champion Silver Award - Martindale Hubbell, 2019 - 2022
    Client Champion Silver Award - Martindale Hubbell, 2019 - 2022
  • 40+ Years of Experience
    40+ Years of Experience
  • AV Preeminent Rating
    AV Preeminent Rating
  • Law360 California Powerhouse
    Law360 California Powerhouse
  • Avvo 10.0 Rating
    Avvo 10.0 Rating
  • Avvo Client's Choice
    Avvo Client's Choice
  • The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
    The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers

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