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History of the Firm

Farrish Johnson Law Office Traces its Origin to July 1, 1893

Harrison L. Schmitt was born in Waverly, Iowa in 1866. He graduated from Mankato High School and taught school for several years. After graduating from Northwestern Law School in Chicago, he opened a successful law practice in Mankato on July 1, 1893. H. L. Schmitt was a distinguished lawyer. He served as president of the Minnesota Bar Association in 1914, and handled numerous cases before the United States Court of Appeals. H. L. Schmitt practiced alone until 1900, when his brother, J. W. Schmitt, joined him in the practice of law.

J. W. Schmitt

jw-schmitt-history-of-the-firmJ. W. Schmitt graduated from Mankato High School in 1896, and taught school in Mankato for several years before pursuing the study of law. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1900, he returned to Mankato and joined his brother, H. L. Schmitt, in the practice of law, and was a well-respected lawyer.

In the summer of 1919, J. W. Schmitt befriended novelist Sinclair Lewis, a Nobel Prize winning author. Lewis moved to Mankato and lived in J. W. Schmitt’s home at 315 South Broad Street for several months while Schmitt was abroad. During this time, Lewis completed two books, Main Street and Free Air. In 1930, Lewis was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first American to win the award. 

Charlotte Farrish

Charlotte Farrish History of the FirmCharlotte Farrish, the firm’s namesake, joined the firm in 1926. Ms. Farrish is noted as one of the earliest women to establish a successful law practice. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, she served as Associate Editor of the Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif, an honorary scholastic society . She was truly a pioneer. In a legal community comprised of predominantly male attorneys, she distinguished herself with her knowledge of the law, her legal abilities, her dedication to her clients, and her willingness to assist other lawyers in the community. In the 1940s she provided valuable service to many Mankato attorneys by taking over their practices while they were off fighting in the war. When the war was over, Ms. Farrish simply returned those clients to their former attorneys for nothing more than a “thank you.”

Ms. Farrish comes from a distinguished background. Her father and step-father were both physicians and practiced with the Mayo Brothers in the early 1900s before establishing a successful practice in Sherburn, Minnesota.

Ms. Farrish, along with J. W. Schmitt, established this firm’s reputation as Minnesota trial attorneys and appellate lawyers handling numerous cases at the trial court level and on appeal. In 2007, Charlotte Farrish was named one of the “Most Influential Lawyers” in the history of the state of Minnesota by Minnesota Law and Politics Magazine.

Henry M. Gallagher

Henry M Gallagher History of the FirmIn 1936, Henry M. Gallagher joined the firm. Gallagher, a native of Waseca, earned his law degree at Creighton University Law School in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1937, Gallagher was appointed Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, succeeding Justice John P. Devaney. He held the position of Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1937 to 1944. Henry Gallagher returned to the firm in 1945.

Robert J. Sheran

Robert Sheran History of the FirmRobert J. Sheran joined the firm in 1945. Following graduation from the College of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota Law School in 1939, Sheran served as clerk to Chief Justice Henry M. Gallagher. In 1946, Sheran was elected to the Minnesota Legislature as a conservative. In 1948 he was re-elected as a DFL party candidate. In 1963 he was appointed Associate Justice and then Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. In 2007, Robert Sheran was named one of the most influential lawyers in the history of the state of Minnesota by Minnesota Law and Politics Magazine.

Miles Zimmerman

Miles Zimmerman History of the FirmMiles Zimmerman joined the firm in 1952. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School in 1950, he practiced with the firm until he was appointed District Court Judge of Blue Earth County in 1974. Zimmerman distinguished himself on the bench as an excellent trial judge. During his years with Farrish Johnson, Miles Zimmerman excelled in trial work, once noting the practice of a Mankato trial attorney is an “ever interesting endeavor.” 

Robert G. Johnson

Robert Johnson History of the FirmWhen Robert G. Johnson joined the firm in 1961, the firm became known as Farrish, Zimmerman & Johnson. Johnson graduated from the University of Michigan in 1960. In 1962, he joined the Air Force Judge Advocacy General’s Corp, returning to Mankato in 1964. During the 1960s and 1970s, the firm’s reputation in the area of trial practice continued to grow and expand. Johnson distinguished himself in the areas of medical and legal malpractice defense. Johnson retired in 2001.

Terri J. Stoneburner

Terri Stoneburner History of the FirmIn 1979, Terri J. Stoneburner joined the firm. After graduating from Hanover College she joined the Peace Corps working as a volunteer in West Africa, and worked as a volunteer attorney for VISTA on the Alaska Commission for Human Rights before returning to law school at the University of Washington School of Law. She was appointed District Court Judge in 1990, and was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals by Governor Ventura in 2000.


Committed to Carrying on the Tradition

Farrish Johnson’s focus was business and commercial litigation. In 1997, the McLean Peterson Law Office, founded by Ed McLean and Charles Peterson in Mankato in 1944, merged with Farrish Johnson. With this merger, Farrish Johnson’s expertise was expanded to include Mankato real estate attorneys, probate attorneys, and business law attorneys.

In 2013, the office of Murphy and Young in Madelia merged with Farrish Johnson, providing even more extensive legal services for families and businesses alike as well as providing a second location.

Providing the Best Possible Legal Representation

The attorneys and experienced support staff at Farrish Johnson Law Office are proud of our past and committed to carrying on the tradition established by Charlotte Farrish and our other distinguished colleagues of providing the best possible legal representation for individuals, families, and businesses.

Farrish Johnson Law Office continues to practice in the areas of real estate, probate, business law, business and commercial litigation, criminal defense, consumer bankruptcy, and appellate law, with three attorneys certified as civil trial specialists, and also offers mediation and arbitration services.