Professional Biography & Practice Areas

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:  I have been a labor and employment lawyer since 1991. I began my career at Irell & Manella, LLP in the labor and employment group and later joined a boutique practice which is where I have been ever since, notwithstanding a few changes in partner configuration.  Today my firm, co-founded with my partner Melanie Ross, is a certified woman owned business, and we provide advice, counseling and litigation services in all aspects of labor and employment law.  We primarily represent employers however we also represent individual employees in contract negotiations (employment and severance) and those who are defending litigation matters filed against them personally.

 

As a 30-year labor lawyer I understand well the complexity of the employer/employee relationship and its breakpoints. My years in the trenches with business owners, executives, managers and employees have provided indispensable preparation for the multi-faceted demands mediation places on the mediator.  I am a skilled listener and communicator who works equally well with counsel and the individuals behind the claims and defenses. I mediate cases at all phases of the dispute spectrum including internal complaints, demand letters, agency claims and filed litigation.

 

I currently serve as a volunteer mediator for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for discrimination, harassment and retaliation matters.  I have also conducted day-of-trial mediations for the small claims court in Los Angeles County. Before attending law school, I worked in higher education (at M.I.T.) where, among other things, I had the privilege of participating in early-stage diversity initiatives, Title IX access requirements and an ombuds program, the latter ultimately serving as a model for other university and corporate conflict management programs. This inspired an interest in conflict management and resolution I have sustained throughout my career as a lawyer and a mediator.  Since 2005, I have taken training and professional development at renown mediation education institutions, including the Loyola Center for Conflict Resolution and Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. I also provide education and training to managers on how to identify the ingredients of workplace conflict before conflicts arise and to raise awareness of how discrimination and harassment present in the real world work environment.

SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE: The subject areas in which my mediation practice is focused are those in which I  have developed expertise during my time as a counsel working directly with clients, both corporate and individual:

  • discrimination, harassment and retaliation

  • whistleblower actions

  • wage/hour and wage payment issues

  • wrongful termination

  • disability rights, reasonable accommodation, leaves of absence

  • paramour/sexual harassment, retaliation, consent disputes

  • defamation and invasion of privacy

  • confidentiality, trade secret, restrictive covenant cases

  • clergy and senior staff exit cases for churches and synagogues

  • non-profit organization board/executive director disputes

  • school/teacher termination and non-renewal cases

  • executive contract disputes

  • household employee cases (nanny, housekeeper, elder care)

  • corporate reorganization and reductions in force

  • resident employee disputes (apartment managers, adult day care)

  • employee classification

PRO BONO:

Volunteer Mediator, California Dept. Fair Employment & Housing, March 2019- present
Volunteer Mediator, L.A. County Dept. of Consumer and Business Affairs

  (small claims court; community matters), July 2017- June 2019
Pro Bono Counsel,  Holocaust Museum LA, Aug 2012 - present
  (Board Member 2017 – present)

EDUCATION: 

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California, J.D., June, 1991     

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, S.B., June, 1985

CERTIFICATION & MEMBERSHIP:

California Bar Association, member 1991-present

DRPA Certificate, Loyola Law School Center for Conflict Resolution, April 2017

PERSONAL BACKGROUND:  I am a native Angeleno, born and raised. Before law school, I enjoyed a brief career in college admissions working for my alma mater. I have three young adult children and live in west L.A. with my husband and the dogs and cats the kids left behind when they went off to college.