• News
  • SAN DIEGO
  • Law

Labor & Employment finalists

Harvey Berger

Pope, Berger & Williams, LLP

550 W. C Street, Suite 1350

San Diego, CA 92101

berger@popeberger.com

(619) 234-1222

Education

Law School/Year: University of San Diego, 1982

Other Graduate School/Year: MIT Sloan School of Mgmt./1976

College/Year: SUNY Stony Brook/1974

Bar Admissions

State Bar of California, 1982; U.S. District Court, Southern District of CA; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Practice Areas

Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor

Major cases you have participated in

The most significant cases have been small cases and class actions for minimum wage workers. I have defended several class actions as well. All employment cases, whether I prosecute or defend them, are emotionally charged for the parties. The most emotional case to me was defending a bus company after a driver tried to molest and kill a boy, the same age as my daughter. I was honored by the request to defend the company, because while the case was venued north of Los Angeles, and there are a lot of great lawyers in Los Angeles, they said they trusted me.

Professional background

Before becoming a lawyer, I was a personnel manager in the 1970s, before they developed the term human resources. From 1982, I worked for insurance defense firms until 1996, which gave me significant trial experience. I tried my first employment case in 1986. Since 1996, I have been with Pope, Berger & Williams, specializing in employment law.

Professional affiliations

California Employment Lawyers Association, National Employers Lawyers Association, Lawyers Club of San Diego, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, Consumer Attorneys of California, San Diego Defense Lawyers

Personal background

Married to attorney Janice Mulligan, who specializes in medical malpractice. Daughter Vanessa Berger, age 18, attends University of San Diego (following in parents' footsteps).


Kathryn Bernert

Luce Forward

11988 El Camino Real, Suite 200

San Diego, CA 92130

kbernert@luce.com

(858) 720-6316

Education

Law School/Year: University of Virginia/1986

College/Year: University of Virginia/1983

Bar Admissions

California

Practice Areas

Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor

Major cases you have participated in

I have represented local, regional and national employers in a variety of employment matters, including wrongful termination and discrimination/harassment/retaliation litigation. Additionally, I have handled numerous class actions involving a variety of employment issues, including FCRA and wage and hour.

Professional background

I have practiced exclusively in the area of employment law since joining Luce Forward nearly 20 years ago. My practice includes counseling employers on policies/procedures and specific employment situations in order to ensure compliance with requirements regarding discrimination, wage and hour, leaves, privacy, recordkeeping, etc. Additionally, I represent employers before courts and federal and state agencies with respect to a variety of claims.

Professional affiliations

I am a member of the California and San Diego Bar Associations. Past chair of the San Diego Bar's labor and employment section. I served on the San Diego Lawyer's Club Task Force on Harassment. I am a member of the North County Human Resources Association.

Personal affiliations

I am a member of the UCSD Moores Cancer Center Foundation board.

Personal background

Married and mother of a daughter.


E. Joseph Connaughton

Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton

401 B St., 10th Floor

San Diego, CA 92101

jconnaughton@paulplevin.com

(619) 744-3645

Education

Law School/Year: Boston College/1993

College/Year: Miami University (Ohio)/1990

Bar Admissions

California; 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; United States Supreme Court

Practice Areas

Appellate, Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor

Major cases you have participated in

I have tried a variety of discrimination, harassment, wage and hour, whistleblower and other employment tort cases, all to successful verdict or judgment. I was also involved in obtaining the largest attorneys' fee award ever ordered against a discrimination or harassment plaintiff. I also spend a substantial portion of my day advising local, statewide and national employers on employment law compliance and risk-avoidance issues.

Professional background

I was a labor and employment associate at Gray Cary (now DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary) between 1993-1998, and then formed Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton with Rich Paul, Fred Plevin and Mike Sullivan in 1998.

Professional affiliations

California State and San Diego County Bar Associations, labor and employment law sections; National Association of College and University Attorneys

Personal affiliations

I also provide pro bono legal assistance to employers with admirable missions, such as Partnerships With Industry, an organization that provides job training, placement and support for adults in our community with developmental disabilities.


George de la Flor

Law Offices of George L. de la Flor, APC

8355 La Mesa Blvd.

La Mesa, CA 91941

gldelaflor@cs.com

(619) 698-2926

Education

Law School/Year: McGeorge/1983

College/Year: University of Chicago/1979

Bar Admissions

California; Eastern, Central and Southern Districts of California; 9th Circuit; Federal Circuit; United States Supreme Court

Practice Areas

Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor, Personal Injury and Property Damage

Major cases you have participated in

I consider all of my cases significant. No one client's cause is greater than any other's. As a consumer attorney, cases involving compensation to clients for their injuries, given significant trauma in their lives, have substantial meaning. As an employment attorney, I put a high value on the ERISA cases I handle. These cases tend to affect someone throughout life, as they involve pension and/or disability rights. However, the more significant cases over the years have been primarily whistleblower retaliation, with an early emphasis on the nuclear energy industry, and more recently, wage and hour class actions.

Professional background

I wanted to run my own firm since before law school. Worked law-related jobs in college to gather experience in administration. Began my practice in 1983 upon passing the bar and have been in that business since, with a brief stint in a partnership (Phin and de la Flor). Throughout my practice, have been involved in the practice areas identified.

Professional affiliations

Judge pro tem, Clairemont Mesa Small Claims Court, approximately 10 years; mediator, Two Attorney Panel, San Diego North County Superior Court, approximately three years; arbitrator, San Diego Superior Court Panel; member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, San Diego County Bar Association, labor and employment law section of the state bar; speaker, various organizations

Personal affiliations

Actively involved in local community, fundraising activities and little league.

Personal background

My family immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1961. We struggled, as would most families in that situation, as my parents left professional careers behind, but this is a country of opportunity. My parents succeeded in realizing the American dream and providing me an excellent education. I now have an ideal life, am married to my perfect mate, Susanne, and have three handsome sons. Who could ask for more?


George Howard

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

501 W. Broadway, Suite 1100

San Diego, CA 92101

george.howard@pillsburylaw.com

(619) 544-3286

Education

Law School/Year: University of Virginia School of Law/1977

College/Year: University of Virginia/1974

Bar Admissions

California; U.S. Courts of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit, 9th Circuit; Federal District Courts for the Northern, Central, Eastern and Southern Districts of California

Practice Areas

Labor

Major cases you have participated in

Published court opinions: Sunglass Products, Inc. v. Laborers International Union, Local 882, 342 NLRB No. 96 (2004) (trial counsel); Colmenares v. Braemar Country Club, 29 Cal. 4th 1019 (2003) (Amicus Counsel); Sheppard v. Freeman, 67 Cal. App. 4th 339, 79 Cal. Rptr. 2d 13, 14 IER Cases 801 (1998) (Amicus Counsel) (argued); La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club v. Industrial Indemnity Co., 9 Cal. 4th 27 (1994) (Amicus Counsel); Trustees of Electrical Workers v. Marjo Corp., 988 F.2d 865 (9th Cir. 1993) (argued); R.B. Electric v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569, 119 L.R.R.M. 2821 (S.D. Cal. 1985), 781 F.2d 1440 (9th Cir. 1986) (argued); Karo v. San Diego Symphony Orchestra Assoc., 762 F.2d 819 (9th Cir. 1985) (argued); Montez v. Ford Motor Co., 101 Cal.App. 3d 315 (1980).

Professional background

I have tried major employment cases including multi-week bench and jury cases. I have also tried numerous shorter employment matters to judges, administrative law judges and arbitrators. I have handled a large number of employment-related lawsuits through pretrial proceedings, including employment discrimination, wage/hour, harassment, trade secret and wrongful termination matters. I also have extensive experience in union management relations and collective bargaining.

Professional affiliations

I am a senior editor of The Rutter Group's "California Employment Litigation Practice Guide," first published in 2002. In 1999/2000, I was instrumental in negotiating the first collective bargaining agreement in California between a labor organization and a federally-recognized Indian tribe. In 1995, I conducted sexual harassment training, along with two other attorneys, for staff and justices of three of the California Courts of Appeal and for the California Supreme Court. I am a past president of the San Diego Chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association and I've appeared as the legal expert in an educational video entitled "Romance in the Workplace," produced by The Employers Group. I am also the immediate past chair for the Employers Group Legal Committee. Currently I am a frequent speaker on employment law topics for groups such as the California Administrative Office of the Courts, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Technical Assistance Program, The Rutter Group, The San Diego Police Department, The University of Southern California Institute for Corporate Counsel and many others.

Personal affiliations

I am involved with numerous nonprofits, including Helen Woodward Animal Center, CRASH (A chemical dependency nonprofit) the Reuben Fleet Center, the SD Symphony and others.

Personal background

I was born in Virginia, grew up near Philadelphia and was educated at the University of Virginia.


Phillip Kossy

Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, LLP

600 W. Broadway, Suite 2600

San Diego, CA 92101

pkossy@luce.com

(619) 699-2433

Education

Law School/Year: George Washington University, National Law Center/1976

College/Year: University of California, Los Angeles/1973

Bar Admissions

California; all United States District Courts in California; United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Practice Areas

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor

Major cases you have participated in

As a labor and employment attorney, I consider the class action and multi-plaintiff wage and hour cases that I defend to be among the more complex matters that I handle, whether filed in a court or before an arbitrator. As with a number of such matters that are currently pending, they usually involve not only seriously contentious factual disputes, but also breaking issues of statutory construction and complicated mathematical formulae and calculations. These cases are often major to the client since they can affect the employer's financial viability and defense expenses and damages are not usually covered by insurance.

Professional background

I graduated law school at George Washington University in 1976 and served as a Deputy County Counsel for San Diego County for 10 years. I joined Littler Mendelson in San Diego in 1987, becoming a shareholder of that firm in 1991. In 2002 I moved my practice to Luce Forward (as a partner) and have been the chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Practice Group since 2004.

Professional affiliations

In addition to being a member of the state bar, I am also a member of the San Diego County Bar Association and the American Bar Association. I am also a member of the labor and employment sections of both of these associations.

Personal affiliations

For the last two years, I have been honored to be a member of the Capital Project Steering Committee of the Peninsula YMCA, which is developing and building an expanded facility for the Point Loma and central beach areas.

Personal background

I was born and raised in San Diego, and returned after college and law school. My wife Ginger and I have two children (Lauren and Drew) and we live in Point Loma.


Robert Levy

Luce Foward Hamilton & Scripps LLP

600 W. Broadway, Suite 2600

San Diego, CA 92101

rlevy@luce.com

(619) 235-2432

Education

Law School/Year: University of Southern California/1980

College/Year: University of Pennsylvania/1975

Bar Admissions

California

Practice Areas

Labor

Major cases you have participated in

I have a counseling practice, where I help clients avoid litigation and solve problems. I was not involved in any major cases in the last year.

Professional background

I have practiced labor and employment law in San Diego for 26 years. For much of that time, I handled employment litigation. Now I am an employment counselor 100 percent of the time. My focus is helping people solve complex and multidimensional problems that involve people in the workplace.

Professional affiliations

I have served on several boards of directors during my career, including San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Foundation for the Performing Arts and San Diego Legal Aid Society. I have also been active in law firm management, and have served on almost every committee in the firm. I have been a member of the Executive Committee and was the chair of the Litigation Department and the Diversity Committee.


Fred Plevin

Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP

401 B Street, 10th Floor

San Diego, CA 92101

fplevin@paulplevin.com

(619) 744-3650

Education

Law School/Year: Boston University School of Law/1986

College/Year: State University of New York, Albany/1983

Bar Admissions

Southern, Central, Eastern Districts of California; U.S. 9th Circuit and District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. Supreme Court

Practice Areas

Appellate, Business Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor

Major cases you have participated in

I have represented major state-wide public entities, including the California trial courts and University of California, in dozens of employment claims, including several cases tried to juries. Since the late 1990s I have played an active role defending the university in a number of claims related to the UCI Center for Reproductive Health fertility scandal.

Professional background

I spent 12 years as associate and partner with the Gray Cary firm, before departing there to form my current firm, which has been in existence for eight years. I have specialized in the representation of management in all aspects of labor and employment law for my entire career.

Professional affiliations

I am a member of the San Diego County Bar Association. I speak frequently to industry groups such as the Compensation & Benefits Association and American Corporate Counsel Association. I am listed in the "Best Lawyers in America."

Personal background

I was born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., and have been a San Diego resident since graduating from law school in 1986. I am married and have a 9-year-old daughter. I reside in Mission Hills.


Abby Silverman

Baker & McKenzie LLP

101 W. Broadway

San Diego, CA 92101

abby.b.silverman@bakernet.com

(619) 235-7794

Education

Law School/Year: University of San Diego School of Law, 1979

Other Graduate School/Year: Bryn Mawr College, School of Social Work, 1963

College/Year: Wellesley College, 1961

Bar admissions

California, Southern District and Central District of California, 9th Circuit

Practice areas

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights, International

Major cases you have participated in

I represent management, employers and occasionally executives in employment-related matters, which include the litigation of employment law, discrimination and employee disloyalty claims and counseling on employment issues, including the protection of trade secrets and proprietary information. I frequently assist employers in conducting investigations of employee misconduct, including sexual harassment, and provide advice to companies which engage in cross-border operations on U.S. employment law issues and the inter-relationship of non-U.S. and U.S. employment laws. I practice in state and federal courts and in alternative dispute resolution settings. I also serve as a mediator and as an AAA arbitrator on the Complex Commercial Case and Employment Dispute panels.

Professional background

I have been a principal of Baker & McKenzie LLP since 1988 when it acquired my former firm Macdonald Halsted & Laybourne, where I started out as an associate. My original practice emphasis was the defense of class action securities lawsuits. I began to concentrate on employment related issues in the post-Foley days and within our firm developed “employment law” as a subspecialty of our commercial litigation practice. Today “employment law” in our firm includes all aspects of the employer-employee relationship, other business relationships and the protection of trade secrets.

I have served on several Baker & McKenzie management committees and as managing partner of the San Diego office for three terms. Today I am chair of the litigation and employment law groups in San Diego.

Professional affiliations

I am a member of the County Bar Association, Lawyers Club of San Diego and the ABA. I am a board member of the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers and am on the board of overseers of USD School of Law. I am particularly proud to have received the University of San Diego School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000, the Faye Stender Award from California Women Lawyers in 1994 and the Community Achievement Award from Lawyers Club of San Diego in 1995.

Personal affiliations

I am the immediate past chairman of the Scripps Health board of trustees and currently serve as a trustee sitting on the Audit, Strategic Planning and Governance subcommittees. I am on the CONNECT advisory board, and am a past director of UCSD Athena. This year I was one of the Girl Scouts' 10 “Cool Women” and have received the Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Award, the Tribute to Women in Industry (TWIN) Award and the Individual Pinnacle Award from UCSD Athena.


David P. Strauss

Strauss & Asher

555 W. Beech St., Suite 302

San Diego, CA 92101

ds@straussandasher.com

(619) 237-5300

Education

Law School/Year: California Western School of Law/1980

College/Year: University of Iowa/1976

University of Lancaster

Bar Admissions

California, various federal circuits

Practice Areas

Civil Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights, Labor/Employment

Major cases you have participated in

I currently represent approximately 200 employees in the city pension case. In the past I have represented numerous plaintiffs in the areas of employment, wage and hour and discrimination.

Professional background

Between 1980 and 1983 I was an attorney with the Interstate Commerce Commission and the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. I spent approximately one year in private practice in Orange County, Calif., from 1983 to 1984. After moving to San Diego, I was a partner with the firm of Monaghan & Strauss from 1984 to 1995, and with Strauss & Asher from 1995 to the present.

Professional affiliations

I belong to: California Employment Lawyers Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego


Claudette Wilson

Wilson Petty Kosmo & Turner LLP

550 W. C Street, Suite 1050

San Diego, CA 92101

cwilson@wpkt.com

(619) 236-9600

Education

Law School/Year: University of California, Davis/1983

Other Graduate School/Year: Universite de Bordeaux, Talance, France/1977

College/Year: University of California, San Diego/1978

Bar Admissions

California

Practice Areas

Business Litigation, Discrimination and Civil Rights

Major cases you have participated in

I have been involved in many interesting cases in the last 23 years. I am currently defending several wage and hour class actions that involve thousands of employees and address issues such as whether the employees qualify as exempt from overtime, are properly paid, have received appropriate meals and breaks or are improperly working off the clock. I continue to defend individual cases of discrimination and harassment, which currently include claims of disability discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination and age discrimination.

Professional background

I head the employment litigation practice group at WPKT. My litigation practice includes wage and hour class actions, Business and Professions Code section 17200 claims, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, trade secret violations and other types of employment-related matters. I regularly counsel employers on issues such as avoiding employment claims, reductions in force, disciplinary actions and terminations. I have significant trial experience in state and federal courts in a wide range of employment matters. I have handled numerous government agency hearings and trials, and have argued employment issues before the California Court of Appeal and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professional affiliations

I am a past president of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, San Diego Chapter, and am a master in the Louis M. Welsh American Inn of Court. I was previously a lawyer representative to the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference and sat on the San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Nomination Evaluation Commission.

Personal affiliations

I had an adventurous youth, spending the bulk of my time in California, but also two years in France, and two in West Africa. At 14, I represented the French Riviera in the French Fencing Nationals. My college years were spent in the University of California system, with an undergraduate degree from San Diego and a law degree from Davis, and one year at the University de Bordeaux in France. I have been a named partner in my own firm for the last 15 years, have a wonderful husband and two great children in college. When not practicing law, I pitch in on the family farm in Santa Ysabel, cook for friends and family and enjoy kayaking, scuba diving and traveling.

User Response
0 UserComments