Heidi Simonson began practicing law in 1996, and has over 20 years of experience in family law litigation including domestic violence, property division, support and custody matters. Her first five years in practice were spent working high conflict cases with Defensa de Mujeres, a community based non-profit organization which originated in Watsonville, California, assisting women and children in domestic abuse situations. During her tenure there, she was featured in the Register-Pajaronian as one of the “20 Most Influential People Under 40”. The non-profit’s legal program developed and grew under her leadership. Defensa de Mujeres is now Monarch Services (www.monarchscc.org), with bilingual and culturally-diverse services offered in both Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
Heidi attended University of San Francisco School of Law, then transferred and graduated from Santa Clara University Law School, after being awarded a Merit Scholarship by the wonderful, late Assistant Dean Mary Emory. During this time, she also worked for the Prison Law Office at San Quentin interviewing prisoners on death row, and with the Public Interest Law Firm, as a prisoner’s rights advocate for jail inmates in Santa Clara County. Additionally, volunteering at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office at Juvenile Hall she worked with youth first entering the system. Heidi, who is also proficient in Spanish, was one of the first law students to work with immigrants seeking suspension of deportation and other immigration relief at the Law School’s East San Jose Community Law Center (now the Katherine and George Alexander Community Law Center). KGACLC is now located at 1030 The Alameda, San Jose (law.scu.edu). Heidi later received the Center’s Commitment Award in 2000 for her ongoing commitment to providing legal counsel to adult and child victims of physical and sexual violence.
In 2000, a reputable general practice firm in Santa Cruz recruited Heidi Simonson as a family law associate. After eight successful years in all aspects of family law litigation, Heidi opened her office in downtown Santa Cruz in 2008. In 2011, the Law Office of Heidi Simonson relocated to Watsonville, where the Family Court is located. We share offices with John Ueberrhein, Attorney at Law, on Green Valley Rd. in Watsonville.
Heidi hasn’t always been a lawyer. She grew up in Decorah, Iowa, finishing high school in Orange County. She attended college at the University of California in Santa Cruz, majoring in Social Psychology. Before attending law school, she taught bilingual preschool in San Francisco, directed a shelter for refugee and immigrant men in the Mission District, and gave birth to three children.
Heidi presently volunteers as a Mentor Attorney for the Monterey College of Law, for the Santa Cruz County Bar Association, and for undergraduate students at UC Santa Cruz. Since 2012, and along with John Ueberrhein, Esq. and Teacher Coach Kevin Mitchener, she is an Attorney Coach for Aptos High School’s Mock Trial Team. Heidi Simonson also volunteers as a judge pro team for the Superior Court’s Family Support calendar in Santa Cruz County. She sat as a Commissioner for some 10 years, and Past-Chair for 3 years representing the Family Law Bar on the County Domestic Violence Commission, and fondly recalls her terms as Trustee and Chair of the Santa Cruz County Law Library Board of Trustees. In 2009, when the Superior Court called for attorney-volunteers to represent children in family court disputes, she was appointed many times as minor’s counsel in disputed divorce and custody matters, as well as Guardian ad litem for challenged parents in Dependency Court. Heidi is also trained to represent children in family court proceedings, and frequently represents parents in Dependency Court.
Heidi is blessed to have three remarkable children, presently living on both the east and west coasts. Parenting was her most challenging and is her most enjoyable endeavor. She adores her two daughters, both passionate, intelligent, well-educated, strong and independent young women (acclaimed artists, active political citizens and brilliant, summa-cum-laude students). Heidi is proud of her determined, remarkable (and decorated) son, who has served in the U.S. Army at -deploying twice to Afghanistan and once to Haiti, studied at Cabrillo College, graduated from UC Berkeley and is studying law at Georgetown.
In her free time, Heidi enjoys traveling, biking, walking, skiing, and stand-up paddling. Her dog takes up most of her (remaining) free time. You’ll meet him in the office too.