Practice Group: Labor and Employment
Awards and Honors: Top Lawyer in Northern California, San Francisco Magazine (2013-2016); recognized in The Best Lawyers in California (2015) and The Best Lawyers In America for Litigation – Labor and Employment (2016); Best Lawyer in Northern California, The Wall Street Journal.
What should lawyers at Sidley know about your practice? How can they cross-sell your practice? My practice is a hybrid between litigation and transactional. Being in the Silicon Valley, I have had the opportunity to be both a full-time litigator of large class actions and single plaintiff cases and also a full-time transactional lawyer, advising clients, working on the employment aspects of deals and preparing documentation that is designed to prevent litigation for employers. On the litigation side, I work with clients in many varied industries, certainly a lot of technology companies, but also life sciences, financial services and manufacturing food and other products. I tend to be a “destination lawyer” so that clients ask me to litigate cases not just in California, but in whatever venue they happen to have important matters. In the last two years, I have had numerous cases that have gone all the way to verdict/award. The cases range from wage and hour, whistle blowing, discrimination, retaliation, to trade secret theft. I also have been retained to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against key executives ranging from misuse of funds in violation of company policies to sexual improprieties.
As far as cross-selling, if your clients have employees in any jurisdiction, then there are opportunities, and I have used employment as a foot in the door to cross-sell corporate, tax, insurances, appellate and other legal services. Bringing us in early to advise or assist with documents can be helpful to avoid litigation later on, but if litigation occurs, we are here to help.
What do you consider as one of your greatest professional achievements? This is a tough question. On a global level, getting to the point where CEOs and GCs call me to seek my advice on sensitive, tough issues is very gratifying. In the courtroom, I have had several arbitration defense awards for big companies in very tough cases in the past year where the odds were against us, but strategic thought by our team led to victory. Working with teams of lawyers with the level of excellence we have here at Sidley is very satisfying.
What impact have diversity and inclusion initiatives had on the Palo Alto office? As local chair of the CRPW, I may be a little biased, but we have worked hard to develop an environment where diversity is in the forefront of our pitches and our client opportunities. From my discussions with many associates, we seem to be achieving an environment where people feel valued, and opportunities are available to all.
How can diversity and inclusion initiatives build business and enhance client relationships? There is no question that our clients demand diversity. Our clients not only have diverse legal teams, and diverse workforces, but also participate in community programs which foster inclusion. I have had more than one client tell me that including women and minorities in our pitch was in sharp contrast to others, and a reason for us to win the opportunity. It sounds cliché, but it is not only the right thing to do, but it absolutely makes good business sense to be mindful of these issues. As the population ages and we see more cases of age discrimination on a company-wide basis, “gray hair” may actually be a coveted quality on our teams as well.