Kellan has also provided legal representation and guidance to developers, property owners, and management companies in the affordable housing industry throughout the United States. He has regularly volunteered his time to provide pro bono legal services to a range of clients, from low-income tenants to nonprofit organizations.
In addition to his legal career, Kellan is a Rent Stabilization Commissioner and past Commission chairperson for the City of West Hollywood. The Commission hears all appeals from the city’s hearing examiner and acts as a policymaking body to ensure proper administration and enforcement of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
Kellan is also the president and co-founder of Handle With Care, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on providing emergency supplies to the unhoused community while acting as a bridge to other social services.
He is a member of the State Bar of California and the Washington State Bar Association.
Mark Mercer is a senior associate in Burke’s San Diego office and a member of the Public Law Practice Group. Mark previously served for 14 ½ years as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Diego as the advisory attorney for the Public Works and Public Utilities Departments. During this time, he gained vast experience in advising public agencies in contract procurement, bid disputes, drafting construction contracts, managing contractor claims, prevailing wage compliance, Proposition 218 compliance, and managing conflict of interests in contracting. Additionally, Mark has experience with advising local agencies on Brown Act and California Public Record Act compliance.
Prior to working at the City of San Diego, Mark had experience in insurance defense and representing sureties in construction litigation.
Mark holds a CEQA Practice Certificate from the University of California San Diego Extension. He also served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1993 until 1999.
Meghan Nihan’s practice focuses on real estate transactional matters and public/private partnership development matters. She has experience with purchase, sale, easement, license, and lease transactions; government purchases of property in lieu of condemnation; ancillary matters such as title review and due diligence; and advising clients on property management landlord/tenant issues.
Meghan was previously an associate in the Corporate and Real Estate practice groups of two Southern California law firms. She was also an associate in the Eminent Domain practice group of a law firm based in Orange County for five years, where she advised staff during the planning phase of a public transportation project, drafted and negotiated purchase and sale agreements, and handled all aspects of eminent domain litigation if a voluntary purchase transaction was not consummated.
During law school, Meghan completed environmental coursework. Early in her career, she worked as a Legal Fellow at Orange County Coastkeeper, whose mission is to protect the region’s water resources. Meghan’s work there included bringing lawsuits to enforce the Clean Water Act and reviewing and drafting comments regarding local policies or Environmental Impact Reports.
Lisa Lee is a partner at Burke, Williams & Sorenson, LLP with over 25 years of litigation experience and a strong background in constitutional law/civil rights litigation, contract litigation, employment litigation and criminal law. She is a trial lawyer who has successfully represented individuals, businesses, police officers and governmental entities in more than 90 jury trials throughout California.
Lisa worked as a Deputy City Attorney with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for six years representing Los Angeles Police Department officers, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department and City of Los Angeles, in a variety of police civil rights matters in both state and federal court. She successfully litigated and tried use of force matters, including officer involved shootings.
Lisa spent nine years in general civil practice where she served as advisory counsel for small businesses, as well as successfully litigating tort, contract and employment litigation matters. Lisa also provided administrative, legal compliance and regulatory advice for business clients, including ordinance and municipal code matters.
Lisa was a criminal prosecutor for nine years with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in Maui, Hawaii where she prosecuted sex crimes, homicides, and serious and violent felonies. She also investigated officer involved shootings and provided training for new prosecutors and law enforcement.
Lisa is dedicated to providing her clients with zealous and cost-effective representation. She has routinely and successfully resolved many cases without the necessity for trial by utilizing assertive case strategies which drive down the settlement value of matters. Lisa has also obtained favorable results for her clients through pretrial motions, including motions for summary judgment.
An associate in the Burke’s litigation group, Alexander Kim focuses his trial practice on the defense of public entities, such as municipalities, transportation providers, and school districts in property damage and personal injury matters, including wrongful death and catastrophic injuries.
Alexander graduated from Rutger’s School of Law – Newark in 2017. Immediately thereafter, Alexander obtained an opportunity as a year-long judicial clerkship in Bergen County, New Jersey for the Honorable Rachelle L. Harz, who oversaw Mass Tort Litigation matters. As part of his clerkship, Alexander gained experience and knowledge as to the practice of Mass Tort Litigation, in addition to general civil litigation.
Prior to joining Burke, Alexander developed and focused his litigation practice in New York, New York. While working in New York, Alexander’s practice areas included General Liability, Premises and Retail Liability, New York Labor Law, Automobile Liability, Trucking & Transportation Liability, Maritime Litigation, Subrogation and Excess Insurance Coverage. His practice included New York State and Federal Courts, and New Jersey State and Federal Courts. Alexander’s success in his practice resulted in being recognized as a 2021 New York METRO Rising Star associate.
In addition to his litigation experience in New York, Alexander’s litigation experience also includes the defense of business and American Disabilities Act claim.
Alexander’s involvement in litigated matters includes all aspects of cases, from inception through resolution. This includes executing written discovery plans, conducting and defending depositions, arguing motions, participating in mediation and arbitration, and all other aspects of trial preparation. Alexander is committed to open lines of communication with clients, making sure to keep them informed with respect to discovery, pleadings and case status.
In addition to Alexander’s experience in the legal world, he previously served in the United States Army. Alexander initially enlisted as a Private First Class in 2009, ultimately rising to the rank of First Lieutenant as a Military Intelligence Officer. In completing his service, Alexander was honorably discharged in 2018.
Nick Medina is an associate in Burke’s Los Angeles office and a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. Nick has experience in representing business clients and individuals across a multitude of civil litigation matters including wrongful death, mass tort, traumatic brain and catastrophic injury cases, and dangerous conditions on business properties. Nick has experience litigating a wide variety of general liability matters, including premises liability, habitability claims, and transportation (trucking/auto) matters for local and national transportation companies, ridesharing entities, nightclubs, restaurants, and concert venues. Nick has experience in all aspects of litigation, including written discovery, depositions, motions practice and assisting with trial.
While in law school, Nick was a member of the Moot Court Board at The University of Maryland School of Law, and a member of Alternative Dispute Resolution Team. He also clerked for a Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge, a Baltimore City trial court judge, and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Connor Hyland is an associate in the public law group of Burke, Williams & Sorensen’s San Francisco office. Connor has experience advising cities on general municipal law, including, drafting ordinances, advising staff on land use and development, and CEQA litigation.
Connor earned his Juris Doctor at the University of California at Irvine School of Law in 2019. During law school, Connor spent over three semesters working as a student attorney in the Environmental Law Clinic at UCI Law advocating for environmental justice and cleaner oceans while gaining administrative law experience. At the clinic, Connor advised clients on issues related to the California Environmental Quality Act, the Coastal Act, and the Clean Water Act.
Prior to joining the Burke, Williams & Sorensen, Connor litigated dozens of workers’ compensation cases for cities, counties, and private sector companies. Connor has extensive experience taking cases from pre-litigation through litigation to settlement or formal legal resolution. Connor has taken numerous depositions and hearings on behalf of public and private clients. He has also taken many issues to trial and through appeal as the lead attorney.
John Horstmann is an associate in Burke’s Los Angeles office and a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. John has experience in representing public entities, business entities, and individuals in a wide variety of civil litigation matters including wrongful death cases, mass casualty tort actions, traumatic brain injury cases, catastrophic injury cases, dangerous condition on public property cases, and civil rights violations. John has experience in all aspects of litigation including written discovery, depositions, and assisting with trial. John has worked on numerous high-exposure cases and consistently achieved positive results for his clients.
Prior to joining Burke, John was an associate with an AM Law 100 firm based in Los Angeles and a Fellow for the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). During the ABOTA Fellowship, John clerked for the Honorable Victor E. Chavez of the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.
While in law school, John was the Competitions Chair of the Trial Advocacy Honors Program at Southwestern Law School, a member Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and clerked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Hardcore Gang Division.
Robert Messinger practices in the areas of real estate, land use, land-based financing, community economic development, and general municipal law. He has represented a variety of municipalities, housing authorities, special purpose public agencies, nonprofit entities, and developers in a broad range of complex multi-party real estate transactions, land entitlement and planning matters, and public finance matters. Robert has extensive experience in real property transactions involving real property acquisition and disposition transactions, commercial leasing, ground leasing, options, easements and licenses, and landlord and tenant representation.
Robert also has extensive experience assisting public agencies with airport matters, parks and open space issues, special purpose entity formation and governance, advising Countywide Oversight Boards in interpreting and implementing the redevelopment dissolution statutes, and the interpretation of and compliance with the Surplus Land Act.
Robert is known for his commitment to helping his clients achieve their goals by providing pragmatic strategies and his ability to pursue a collaborative approach in order to achieve resolution. His commitment to delivering superior work product, exceeding client expectations through exceptional service, integrity, and results are the personal values that form Robert’s client relationships.
Rachel Balchum is a senior associate in Burke’s Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. Rachel represents public and private employers and individuals in employment disputes, including in the areas of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour. She provides preventative counseling regarding employment practices, including COVID-19 issues, as well.
In addition, Rachel represents clients in trust and estate, financial elder abuse, and business litigation.
During law school, Rachel served as a legal extern at the United Nations Development Programme in Guatemala.
Allen Acosta is a senior associate in Burke’s Los Angeles office in the Labor and Employment Practice Group. Allen has represented public and private clients in all facets of labor and employment law, including defending single-plaintiff lawsuits and collective actions, workplace investigations and employee discipline, and labor arbitrations.
Before joining Burke, Allen was an associate with a full-service employment law firm in Los Angeles, where he defended public agencies throughout California in state and federal courts and arbitral tribunals and provided advice and counsel to clients on a wide array of labor and employment issues.
Earlier in this career, Allen was an in-house attorney for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he successfully defended false arrest and excessive force lawsuits, appeals from administrative proceedings, and employment litigation under Title VII, Americans with Disability Act, Rehabilitation Act, and Federal Employers Liability Act. Allen also provided advice and counsel to the Port Authority’s Chief Security Officer and the Port Authority Police Department on airport security issues, police practices, criminal investigations, and labor and employment matters. Allen also drafted legislation that the New York Legislature enacted in 2020 to curb illegal taxi operations at New York’s airports.
Allen also served as a prosecutor in New York City at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, where he gained trial experience and handled felony investigations and grand jury presentations.
While attending Boston University School of Law, Allen completed externships with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in the Criminal Division and the Honorable Vanessa L. Bryant, U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut.
Alondra Espinosa is an associate in Burke’s Public Law Practice Group and provides advisory and litigation services to cities and other public agencies. Alondra’s practice focuses on a variety of public law and land use issues, including environmental law, water law, open meetings laws, public records, public contracting, and code enforcement.
Alondra earned her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and was admitted to the Bar of the State of California in 2017. She graduated with a concentration in Environmental Law. While in law school, she clerked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the General Counsel’s Water Law Office and assisted in-house counsel at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California working on a variety of legal matters involving CEQA litigation, water rate challenges under Prop 218 and Prop 26, and disclosures pursuant to the Public Records Act. Alondra earned her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Leila Moshref-Danesh is a senior associate in Burke’s Riverside office. Prior to joining Burke, Leila served as a Deputy County Counsel in the Land Use Division of the Riverside County Office of County Counsel. Leila has experience in the areas of land use entitlements, special districts, the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Public Records Act, CEQA, right-to-farm issues, citrus pest control districts, cannabis dispensaries, habitat conservation plans, the Endangered Species Act, mitigation fees, and stormwater and water quality permits.
Kelsey earned her J.D. at the Tulane University School of Law, where she was president of the school’s chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and a student attorney in the Tulane University Domestic Violence Law Clinic. Kelsey also spent a summer studying international art law in Siena, Italy and subsequently interned with the Holocaust Art Restitution Project.
Arielle Berne is an associate in Burke’s Los Angeles office and a member of Burke’s Litigation practice group. Arielle’s areas of practice include public entity defense, premises liability, dangerous condition of public property, general tort litigation, and wrongful death matters.
Arielle also serves as the City Prosecutor for numerous cities including Lawndale and Santa Clarita where she successfully handles criminal litigation and prosecution of code enforcement matters. Serving in this capacity gives Arielle a broad range of litigation and courtroom experience.
Arielle’s practice also includes employment litigation matters including wrongful termination and retaliatory discharge, employment discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, Americans with Disabilities Act, and FEHA and FMLA disputes.
During law school, Arielle interned for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office in its employment and litigation groups. Additionally, Arielle represented clients with the Washington Innocence project. She also was an extern for Judge John Ruhl.
Arielle was a Managing Editor of the Washington Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. She also held the role of President of Moot Court Honor Board at UW Law.
Arielle graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a concentration in Law and Society.
Kate Im is an associate attorney in Burke’s Los Angeles office and is a member of the Labor & Employment, and Education Law practice groups. Kate represents and advises cities, school districts, and other public agencies on matters ranging from employee discipline, hiring, and layoffs, collective bargaining, discrimination/civil rights claims, and governance issues. Her practice includes related litigation matters such as civil suits, writs of mandamus, and administrative hearings.
While attending the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Kate interned with at the Lanterman Regional Center Special Education Law Clinic and the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles at their Keck/LA County Hospital location.
Payan v. Los Angeles Community College District (9th Cir. 2021) ---F.4th---
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Gena Burns is a senior associate in Burke's Labor and Employment and Public Law Practice Groups. Gena provides advice and assistance to the firm’s clients regarding all aspects of labor and employment law.
Gena regularly advises clients and litigates matters concerning equal employment opportunity laws, disability and family medical leave, wage and hour issues (including class actions and PAGA claims), sexual harassment, workplace violence, public employee benefits and retirement, employee discipline and disciplinary arbitrations, collective bargaining processes, and interpretation of labor contracts. She has represented clients in both state and federal court.
Gena has extensive experience with employee disciplinary hearings and has served as counsel to the San Diego County Civil Service Commission. Gena has also served as lead negotiator for public agencies. She has successfully handled cases before the Public Employment Relations Board and the National Labor Relations Board. Gena has experience counseling clients with respect to workplace and compliance issues including employee terminations, reductions-in-force, the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, CalPERS, the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act. She has developed handbooks and regularly reviews and drafts personnel policies and procedures. Gena delivers training on labor and employment related matters. Gena conducts independent investigations of complaints involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and workplace misconduct.
Gena graduated cum laude from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. While in law school, she was a member of the UC Hastings Business Law Journal and studied at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
Elizabeth Mitchell handles all legal issues confronted by local agencies and special districts from advice regarding board and legislative actions, administrative policy implementation, and open meetings, election laws and effective government to claims avoidance, mitigation and processing, negotiations, advisory and transactional law, labor and employment law, water law, public contracts, insurance, liability issues, real estate, leases, easements and development agreements, low income housing projects, workers’ compensation, civil rights and regulatory and code enforcement, and public works, infrastructure and rate setting. Admitted to the California State Bar in 1999, Elizabeth utilizes her extensive background as a trial attorney in civil litigation and business transactions to help public agencies, municipalities, special districts, joint power authorities, non-profits and businesses avoid potential future legal problems before they arise. She has been focusing on public interest law since 2015, but also has a corporate and transactional practice.
Before joining the firm, Elizabeth was a partner in the litigation department of one of San Diego’s premiere mid-size business defense firms. Her sophisticated trial practice included international and multi-district civil litigation in state and federal court, unfair competition and trade secret cases, intellectual property, creditors’ rights, environmental causes, large corporate bankruptcies and American with Disabilities Act claims, among others. She also has experience with all aspects of transactional and corporate advice, contracts, negotiations, compliance and strategic planning, leases, franchises, acquisitions and other complex corporate work. Elizabeth also spent time at a boutique plaintiff’s class action firm pursuing high profile public interest cases including privacy and constitutional rights, labor and employment law, health care and technology, false advertising and the Lanham Act. Before law school, she served as a legislative intern for the majority chairman of the House of Representative’s Education Committee.
Elizabeth is now General Counsel for the Vista Irrigation District, the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Solana Beach, the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Coronado, and the Assistant General Counsel for SBCS Corporation, putting her diverse background to work for local government, special districts, non-profits and businesses throughout California.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Neel Ghanshyam is an associate in Burke, Williams & Sorensen’s Los Angeles office. Neel has extensive experience representing public entities, including K-12 school districts, hospitals and law enforcement agencies, in matters pertaining to litigation, investigations, writ actions, employee discipline and employee relations. Prior to practicing law, Neel worked as a legal investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor, where he assisted in their ERISA compliance program and assisted in auditing employer and union retirement benefit and health benefit plans.
Neel earned his Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School. He served as the school’s Student Bar Association President in 2013-2014.
Charles Abbott is a highly skilled litigator with experience in complex civil litigation, such as class-action defense, personal injury, intellectual property, employment, privacy and insurance defense. He has represented public entities and large public business in the retail, food and beverage, entertainment, telecommunications, and entertainment industries. Mr. Abbott has tried numerous civil jury trials to successful conclusion in federal and state courts in California. He also has a proven track record of designing and implementing compliance programs and leading internal investigations for corporate clients alleged to have committed FCPA, UK Bribery Act, AML, fraud, bribery, global privacy, trade and export control, and environmental regulations across multiple industries.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Michael R. Nebenzahl is a seasoned litigator with 40 trials to verdict and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). His practice focuses on the defense of high stakes personal injury litigation matters involving wrongful death, catastrophic injuries, emotional injuries and brain damage.
Michael has built his practice over the last two decades handling cases for public entities such as cities, school districts, utility companies and transportation agencies. He defends claims of dangerous conditions of public property, claims of liability stemming from the wrongful conduct or negligent acts of employees, and claims in defense of employment-related matters. These defenses range from roadway design, to the protocols and practices for maintaining streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure, to urban forestry, as well as termination and/or discriminatory employment-related matters. While he knows that a bell can't be un-rung, Michael takes great pride in understanding how and why any incident occurred and spending much time, effort and analysis in providing advice to his clients on how to prevent future harm.
One of Southern California's most experienced and well-regarded trial attorneys, Michael has been representing clients such as the City of Beverly Hills for over two decades, and his defense verdict for the Rose Bowl in a 2008 brain damage case resulted in being named to the Daily Journal's List of Top Ten Defense Verdicts.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Susan Arduengo is a partner in Burke’s Los Angeles office and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law practice group.
Susan is an Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) Certificate Holder and the convener for the AWI Los Angeles Mentoring Circle. Susan conducts workplace investigations as a neutral fact-finder. She has investigated a variety of employment-related complaints including allegations of sexual harassment, hostile work environment, gender and disability discrimination, retaliation, abusive conduct, workplace violence, wage and hour violations, and “me too” claims. Employers rely on her findings in order to make informed decisions on how to resolve internal workplace complaints.
Additionally, Susan performs California’s mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for supervisory and non-supervisory employees. She is experienced in virtual and in-person training to groups both large and small. She also creates customized training focused on particular workforce concerns, including Employment Law/HR Bootcamp, interactive process and reasonable accommodation, and Wage and Hour 101. Susan has also served as a speaker on pay equity matters for community groups.
Susan has litigated on behalf of California employers against claims of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and harassment in addition to defending against wage and hour class actions and PAGA claims.
Susan’s litigation experience defending employers provides her an advantage in providing her clients preventative employment counseling. Susan’s counseling work is focused on litigation avoidance on matters related to employee discipline, leaves of absences, and separation issues. Susan is also experienced in drafting employment policies, handbooks, and separation agreements as well as performing employment law compliance audits.
Susan is active in Burke’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Winter Hankins is a senior associate in Burke Williams & Sorensen’s San Jose Office and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group.
Winter is experienced in handling claims involving harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and leaves of absence under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA). She has experience advising clients regarding the interactive process and disability accommodation, disability retirement, discipline, due process rights, layoffs, and wage and hours compliance. In addition, Winter is an experienced workplace investigator and is an Association of Workplace Investigators Certificate Holder (AWI-CH). She has conducted complex workplace investigations involving sworn and non-sworn employees, as well as overseen numerous investigations and advised employers regarding next steps in addressing investigation findings.
She is passionate about training and cultivating diverse and positive workplace culture. Winter is a graduate of the Alameda County Leadership Academy, which focuses on diversity and understanding how to manage individuals with different social and economic backgrounds, skill sets, and personality types. She is also an active member of the Charles Houston Bar Association.
Prior to joining Burke, Winter served as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Hayward, where she represented the city in state, federal, and administrative proceedings and counseled the Airport, Police, Fire, and Housing Department in a variety of legal matters, including contract negotiation, policy updates, developing ordinances and resolutions, and their investigation and response to tort claims.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Tamar Burke is an associate in the public law practice group. She advises public entity clients on all matters, including California Public Records Act and Brown Act compliance, code enforcement, eminent domain, and general municipal governance issues. Tamar has worked on litigation cases involving the Public Records Act and the Brown Act, property maintenance issues, quiet title, and eminent domain. Her litigation practice includes drafting and managing discovery, drafting motions in limine and corresponding oppositions, and otherwise preparing cases for trial or hearings. She has also worked as a reviewer for CEB’s Municipal Law Handbook.
Tamar earned her J.D. from UC Hastings and graduated cum laude with a concentration in government law. As a law student, Tamar interned with the Government team of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office where she worked on the City’s sanctuary city litigation and provided advice to various City commissions and departments. She also interned with the State of California’s Office of Legislative Counsel, drafting legislation regarding environmental, education, transportation, and energy law. As a member of the nationally ranked UC Hastings Moot Court Team, she competed in the Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. She was also selected to participate in the UC Hastings Appellate Project, and represented a client in proceedings before the Ninth Circuit.
Before law school, Tamar received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Davis. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Tamar worked in and around government by interning in state legislators’ offices and working at a lobbying and consulting firm to further environmentally sound policies in California.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Elisabeth Frater is a Partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP with over 25 years of litigation experience and a deep background in employment law and litigation, business litigation, administrative law, workplace misconduct and EEO investigations, and criminal law. She is a trial lawyer who has represented individuals, officials, businesses and governmental entities in more than 125 jury trials throughout California.
Elisabeth worked for the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, for over nine years, first as a Deputy Attorney General and then as a Supervising Deputy Attorney General overseeing a team of litigation attorneys in the Employment and Administrative Mandate Section of the Civil Division. Agencies she has represented include the California State University, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the California Horse Racing Board, the California Department of State Hospitals, California State Parks and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
She has handled complex employment litigation and appeals including state and federal cases brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act. She has provided legal advice to top managers and executives in public agencies and departments on civil rights cases, adverse employment actions, discrimination policies, privacy issues and workplace violence. She has conducted workplace investigations into matters involving sworn and non-sworn employees.
Elisabeth previously spent five years in private practice, representing individuals and entities in business and employment cases, workers’ compensation claims and criminal matters. Earlier in her career she served as a deputy in the District Attorney offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Napa counties, where she tried felony cases, conducted grand jury proceedings and worked with municipal police departments, county sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement agencies.
Elisabeth is committed to providing clients with excellent and cost-effective representation. She has successfully resolved numerous disputes through mediation, and aggressively pursues strategies to eliminate defendants and claims from cases at the earliest stages of litigation through motions to dismiss, demurrers, and motions for summary judgment. An expert at jury selection and providing a vigorous and strategic defense at trial, in recent years Elisabeth has won defense verdicts in several employment cases on behalf of state officials and public agencies.
Joanne Madden’s practice focuses on litigation involving commercial disputes, corporate governance, and employment matters. She represents companies involved in disputes concerning lease obligations, online service agreements, trade secrets, risk allocation between suppliers, and employment contracts. She also has extensive experience representing transportation and construction companies in general liability matters. Her clients include individuals, non- profits, small to mid-size businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies.
While primarily a litigator, she also advises clients on risk management in various settings. She has counseled individuals, corporations, and public entities concerning compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, California’s Unruh Act, Wage and Hour regulations, OSHA, Motor Carrier regulations, environmental regulations such as California’s Proposition 65, and consumer protection laws. Joanne also counsels a national product distributor on claim and litigation management. She appears in federal and state courts, arbitrations, administrative hearings as well as before special masters.
Joanne serves as Judge Pro Tem for the San Francisco Superior Court, mediating landlord tenant disputes and sitting as a small claims judge.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Bernard Gehlhar focuses his practice on the representation of consumer product companies, defending them in products liability litigation, advising on regulatory and corporate issues, and assisting with contractual matters. Bernard also has extensive experience dealing with other types of products, including industrial products. Bernard works closely with clients to gain an understanding of their business model and objectives in order to provide practical guidance on day-to-day business decisions in the context of legal risk.
In addition to his litigation and litigation management roles, Bernard is a trusted advisor to clients in various related areas, including product safety and regulatory compliance. He routinely assists clients with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliance and reporting; product recalls, and in reviewing product manuals, safety warnings, labels, and other collateral materials. Bernard assists clients with negotiating and drafting contracts, including licensing and vendor agreements. Bernard also has significant experience counseling clients with respect to advertising and promotional activities, including sweepstakes and contests.
Bernard has experience with a broad range of civil litigation matters, including class actions and other complex cases. In addition to products liability cases, Bernard has handled commercial disputes and defended professional liability matters on behalf of mortgage brokers, insurance agents and brokers, third-party administrators, investment advisors, securities broker-dealers and attorneys, among others. He also has litigated business torts and defended claims of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and vicarious liability for the acts of employees and agents.
Bernard handles cases in state and federal trial courts and in various arbitration forums and has extensive experience with appellate proceedings. He has drafted countless briefs and argued before the California Courts of Appeal and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in matters involving a range of substantive areas, including professional liability, products liability, general liability, business torts, and ERISA.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Eli Flushman is a public law partner in Burke’s Marin County office. Eli is a skilled municipal law attorney who has great experience advising cities on general municipal law, including, drafting ordinances, advising staff on land use and development, code enforcement, public nuisance litigation, and general litigation.
Eli’s code enforcement practice centers on working with cities to abate properties with nuisance conditions utilizing administrative enforcement, civil litigation, receiverships, demolitions, inspection and abatement warrants, and voluntary compliance. He also has experience conducting criminal prosecutions for municipal code violations, and opposing Pitchess motions.
Eli is a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law. At USF, Eli was the President of the Jewish Law Student Association and a member of the USF Trial Team. Eli received his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, where he spent a year with the baseball team. Prior to his employment with Burke, Eli worked for the City of Vallejo, where he built up and led the Neighborhood Law Program, a successful campaign utilizing legal processes to drastically improve the quality of life for citizens of Vallejo. Eli spent over six years in Vallejo, where the Neighborhood Law Program was involved in over 25 Receivership cases, and 20 public nuisance lawsuits, turning over severely dilapidated and nuisance properties and helping to create an environment that made Solano County one of the top real estate markets in the country.
Prior to his work with the City of Vallejo, Eli has worked in the City Attorney's Office in Redwood City and in Berkeley, and as a Staff Attorney for the League of California Cities.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Robert Dickerson, Jr., Chair of Burke’s IP Practice Group, has been litigating patent, antitrust, trademark, copyright, and trade secret cases for over 30 years, most of those as first chair, and many of those for Fortune 500 companies. He has litigated cases in many U.S. District Courts throughout the country, before the International Trade Commission, and in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, compiling an exceptional win-to-loss ratio. He has also successfully argued cases before various appellate courts, including the Federal Circuit, and has been retained to lead and consult on litigation in other countries.
Robert's experience involves a multi-billion dollar antitrust case against Google, and patent cases involving a wide range of technologies, including various types of medical devices, optical networks, 3-D printing, flashlights, laser sintering, stereolithography, biotechnology (including genetically modified plants), integrated chip design, medical diagnostic methods and devices, veterinary products, commercial garment processing, laminated flooring panels, computer switch products, non-volatile memory, business methods, video and other games, database management, data encryption and securitization, and mechanical devices, among many others. In addition, he is registered to practice patent law by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, oversees patent and trademark prosecution matters, and advises clients on their overall IP portfolios, including national and global IP strategies and licensing programs for patents and trademarks. He has also successfully asserted copyright infringement cases, obtaining large settlements for his clients.
In addition, Robert has litigated general business and franchise matters in state courts and before administrative agencies. He has represented a national distributor of motor vehicles and handled a wide variety of motor vehicle distributor/dealer issues and litigation throughout the country, in addition to its IP and antitrust matters.
Robert also counsels clients on all IP aspects of transactional matters (including M&A) and provides infringement and freedom-to-operate analysis and opinions. He has directed the development and implementation of IP audit, capture, evaluation, and monetization programs for companies engaged in research and development.
Robert has twice been named as one of the Top 75 IP attorneys and one of the Top 30 Patent Litigators in California by California Daily Journal on the basis of results obtained in large-stakes patent litigation. He has been named as a Tier 1 Patent litigator and as a California Highly Recommended Litigation Star by Benchmark Plaintiff, an IP Superstar by Los Angeles Magazine for each of the last 18 years, and has been recognized in several Who's Who listings of IP attorneys.
Robert has often been quoted in major publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on hot topics and current cases in IP law, and has published articles in the ABA Journal and other legal publications.
Robert was lead counsel in a pro bono matter that resulted in the largest judgment ever obtained in a Public Counsel pro bono consumer fraud case, for which he received the "California Angel" award from California Magazine.
Robert started his career at IP powerhouse Lyon & Lyon, where he was Associate, then Partner, and then the first ever Managing Partner of the firm, and he has also been Chair and Co-Chair of the IP Groups of large national and international law firms.
In law school, Robert was a member of Moot Court Honors Program and on the intercollegiate team competing in the Giles Sutherland Rich Patent Law National Competition (Winner, Regional Finals), a member of Law Review, and winner of the Jurisprudence Award in Property.
Prior to starting law school, Robert worked as a cowboy on a cattle ranch, paid for his undergraduate education by playing lead guitar in a professional rock n' roll band, and worked for Shell Development Corporation involved in research and development of herbicides and pesticides.
“Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.” (Thomas Alva Edison).
“Very few things are ever as good or bad as they seem at the moment, so don’t overreact to either.” (Author Unknown).
Pronouns: he, him, his
Marvin Cho is an associate in Burke, Williams & Sorensen’s Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm’s Employment Law and Litigation practice group. He is an experienced litigator whose practice includes representing public and private employers in state and federal court, in arbitration proceedings, and before administrative agencies such as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Prior to joining Burke, Marvin worked at a prominent boutique employment litigation firm where he gained significant experience litigating claims for discrimination, retaliation, and harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), wrongful termination claims, whistleblower actions, violations of California wage and hour law, and representative actions under the Private Attorneys General Act. Thereafter, Marvin joined a public entity defense firm where he defended civil lawsuits filed against municipalities including high-profile employment litigation alleging violations of the FEHA, civil rights cases against local law enforcement arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and personal injury actions.
Marvin has substantial experience in all phases of civil litigation including engaging in motion practice, drafting appellate briefs, appearing in court for oral argument, taking depositions, handling all aspects of discovery, negotiating settlements, and preparing for trial.
In 2010, Marvin graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a B.A. in Psychology. He earned his J.D. in 2014 from UC Davis School of Law where he was an editor of the UC Davis Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. During law school, Marvin served as a judicial extern to the Honorable James V. Selna of the United States District Court, Central District of California. After law school, and prior to entering private practice, he served as a law clerk for all three Justices of the Supreme Court of Guam.
Susan Chelsea has over three decades of employment law, business and commercial litigation, automobile dealership representation, construction law, and government contract claims experience.
Susan’s practice primarily focuses on employment law, but over the past 30 years she has handled matters involving general business litigation, contract disputes, construction contract disputes, consumer claims, government contract claims, mechanic’s lien and stop notice claims, and general liability defense.
Susan’s employment practice includes both counseling and litigation work. She drafts and updates employee handbooks, other employer policies and procedures, employment agreements, severance agreements, nondisclosure agreements, commission agreements, pay plans, and anti-harassment policies. Her employment counseling practice includes wage and hour compliance, hiring and firing, and FMLA, CFRA, and ADA compliance.
Susan conducts workplace investigations as an independent investigator. She also counsels employers through the investigation process when the investigation is handled in-house or by an independent third party investigator.
An experienced litigator, Susan has successfully tried and arbitrated cases involving wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, trade secrets, and unfair competition as well as real estate issues, business disputes, construction disputes, securities transactions and products liability. Susan has defended employers in over 40 wage claims before the California Labor Commissioner. She has also successfully defended employers subject to Labor Commissioner citations, eliminating or substantially reducing civil penalties assessed against employers. Susan has also successfully defended businesses against OSHA citations, including obtaining dismissal of citations after a successful appeal and hearing.
Finally, Susan has defended businesses against ADA claims, both in the employment context and related to accessibility issues.
Susan frequently presents on topics related to employment law and provides training to employers on various topics including anti-harassment and bullying, how to conduct proper workplace investigations, and compliance with updated laws and regulations.
A leader in the legal community, Susan served as Chair of USLAW Network’s Employment & Labor Law Practice Group. Susan was a faculty member of the University of San Diego Lawyer’s Assistant Program for nine years. She served on the Executive Committee of the State Bar Real Property Law Section and was the Co-Chair of the Litigation Subsection of the State Bar Real Property Law Section. She also served as Co-Chair of the San Diego County Bar Association Construction Law Section, and a barrister with the Inns of Court, Wallace Inn.
Mark Nys represents automobile and recreational vehicle dealerships (single point, independent and automobile dealership groups) and automobile and recreational vehicle manufacturers, direct and indirect lenders, flooring lenders, automobile service centers and surety bonding companies in litigation involving catastrophic loss, negligence, fraud, product liability, warranty, lemon law and auto financing disputes throughout California. He has had extensive experience representing clients in franchise disputes between dealers and between dealers and manufacturers of automobiles and recreational vehicles.
In the construction industry, Mark represents owners, developers, general contractors, subcontractors and design professionals in both residential and commercial construction, construction defect, workplace injuries and complex construction transactional matters. He provides guidance in both public and private works projects, counseling clients on construction financing, mechanics’ liens, stop notices, and enforcement actions. Mark also regularly represents sureties in claims against contractor license bonds.
Mark also regularly defends mobile home parks and homeowners’ associations from liability arising from resident litigation. Licensed before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Mark is also experienced in litigating intellectual property disputes.
In addition to appropriate court admissions, Mark is a licensed California real estate broker and serves as a trusted legal advisor to credit unions and other financial institutions in real estate transactions, credit union operations and lender liability litigation.
Originally from Santa Maria, California, Mark graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1985 with a B.A. in Chemistry. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Mark was a 4-time NCAA All-American in both singles and doubles tennis. He then attended the University of California at Irvine, where he received his Graduate Certificate in Hazardous Materials Management before moving on to California Western School of Law and earning his Juris Doctorate in 1997. Mark retired after twenty years of service as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy with the rank of Commander.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Gina N. Giovacchini is an associate in Burke, Williams & Sorensen’s Los Angeles office. Gina’s areas of practice include public entity defense, premises liability, dangerous condition of public property, and tort litigation. Gina is a member of the firm’s Public Law and Litigation practice groups. Prior to joining Burke, Gina defended clients against a variety claims including product and premises liability, breach of contract, construction defect, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, class-actions, and complex tort litigation.
Gina earned her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and was admitted to the Bar of the State of California in 2016. She graduated with concentrations in Criminal Justice and Public Interest Law and was a member of the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy. Gina also clerked for the Capital Habeas Unit for the Oﬃce of the Federal Public Defender of the Central District of California, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Honorable Julia W. Brand of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California. Gina earned her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Maxwell Blum is a partner in Burke’s Oakland office. His practice involves representing public agencies in litigation matters as well as providing advice on compliance issues and assisting with related transactions. Maxwell has worked on litigation cases involving environmental contamination, inverse condemnation, breach of contract, code enforcement, relocation assistance, and other issues. He has also worked as a reviewer for CEB’s Municipal Law Handbook. Prior to joining Burke, Maxwell practiced for several years at an international law firm where he worked on complex commercial litigation and internal investigations.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Mark Austin is a partner at the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP, where his practice focuses on public-entity litigation, real estate litigation, corporate/partnership disputes, land-use and environmental litigation, and municipal tort defense (including dangerous condition cases, employment-related torts, and wrongful death matters). Mark has extensive trial experience, having handled multiple successful jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations, and has successfully argued before the California Court of Appeal over a dozen times.
Mark began his career representing public entities on both litigation and transactional matters, including real-estate transactions and disputes, constitutional claims, complex land-use matters, employment disputes, and tort claims. Since that time, Mark has expanded his practice to include commercial disputes on behalf of businesses and developers of all sizes, private real-estate litigation, and environmental litigation. In his several years of practice, Mark’s clients have included residential and commercial developers, nationally recognized private companies, cities, counties, small businesses, and private homeowners. His focus on real estate litigation has given him substantial insights into drafting pitfalls, disclosure requirements, and judicial interpretations of written agreements.
Mr. Austin has acted as deputy city attorney for several cities, and in 2015 he acted as the Interim City Attorney for the City of Calexico. He has represented the City of Anaheim, the City of Irvine, the City of Dana Point, the City of Torrance, and the City of Vernon, among several others, on multiple high-profile matters and cases.
Oxford Preparatory Academy v. Edlighten Learning Solutions (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 605 (enforceability of contractual arbitration agreement)
City of Cerritos v. Cerritos Taxpayers Assoc., et al. (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1417 (complex validation action concerning purchase and development of senior-housing project)
In re County of Monterey Initiative Matter (N.D. Cal. 2006) 427 Fed.Supp.2d 958 (voting rights case)
City of Long Beach v. Department of Industrial Relations (2004) 34 Call.4th 942 (amicus; prevailing wage issue)
Pronouns: he, him, his
A recognized figure in his field of eminent domain, Alan Sozio has played a lead role in numerous multi-parcel property acquisition projects throughout California. In addition to providing eminent domain legal services to more than 17 public agencies, Alan has since 2001 served as special acquisition counsel for the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority in property acquisitions spanning more than 11 grade separation projects in the San Gabriel Valley. He is the co-author of the seminal practice guide used by public agency practitioners entitled “Eminent Domain: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Acquisition of Real Property,” and is the author of the popular eminent domain blog, “Right to Take | Doing it the Right (of) Way—Recommended Steps for the Acquisition of Real Property by Eminent Domain.” He is active in the eminent domain legal community where he is a frequent speaker and author on topics related to condemnation.
Alan counsels public clients on early considerations and pre-acquisition activities necessary to the condemnation process. He litigates eminent domain and inverse condemnation actions and, when necessary, takes the matters through trial. Alan also drafts transactional documents, including purchase and sale agreements, right-of-entry agreements and leases, and provides advice regarding state and federal relocation assistance. He has appeared in both open and closed session with city councils, agency boards and other legislative bodies to speak on matters related to the acquisition of property and the condemnation process.
In addition to eminent domain actions, Alan litigates matters involving physical and regulatory takings, contractual and boundary disputes, unlawful detainer matters, land use and real estate issues.
In 2005, Alan successfully completed the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Trial Advocacy Program. Thereafter, on a pro bono basis, Alan prosecuted to verdict criminal cases, and obtained favorable bench rulings in evidentiary trials, for the cities of Anaheim and Inglewood.
Alan is a Brown Belt in the Israeli self-defense system of Krav Maga, and is a former "AA" rated competitive beach volleyball player. When not at the office, he enjoys surfing, skiing, and relaxing with his family on the beach.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Traci Park exclusively advises and assists employers and management in labor and employment law and civil rights litigation. Her wide-ranging practice includes representing clients in FEHA, Title VII, wrongful termination, employee compensation, and civil rights matters. Traci has extensive trial and appellate experience, and she regularly handles grievance arbitrations, disciplinary appeals, administrative hearings, and agency investigations.
Traci also has a significant counseling practice, which includes drafting employment policies, performing employment law compliance audits, and advising on employee discipline, performance management, and due process issues. Traci is a member of the Association of Workplace Investigators and frequently serves as a personnel investigator and neutral fact-finder.
Traci regularly advises employers about issues and policies related to cyber-security, social media, and on-line conduct of employees and elected officials, and she regularly writes for the California Lawyer Magazine Social Media Column. She contributes to a number of treatises, including the 2010-2018 editions of Legal Trends and the 2001-2007 editions of The California Employer. Traci recently authored articles on use of social media by police, social media policies for public entities, defining on-line threats, social media and the First Amendment, and litigating sexual harassment in the #MeToo environment.
Traci is an experienced trainer who has conducted hundreds of seminars on all aspects of employment law and civil litigation. Her recent presentations include Facebook and the First Amendment, hacking and cyber-misconduct, privacy and privilege in litigation, harassment prevention, social media in the workplace, managing difficult employees, HR boot camp for managers, workplace hazing, bullying and violence, administering protected leaves of absence, strategies to prevent lawsuits arising from terminations, disability discrimination, conducting lawful workplace investigations, and effective discipline and workplace documentation.
Traci regularly conducts employment law training for members of the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority. She has recently presented for the California State Bar and the PARMA, IPMA-HR International, CalPELRA, CSDA and League of California Cities conferences, among others.
Traci likes surfing, Facebook, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Nathan Oyster’s practice at Burke focuses on two main areas: He defends law enforcement officers and local governments in civil rights litigation, and he provides guidance to law enforcement agencies on the implementation of policies that reduce the likelihood of litigation.
Nathan’s litigation experience is extensive, and he currently serves as the lead police litigator for the cities of Alhambra and Rialto, in addition to his work as outside counsel for agencies throughout the state He has tried cases in both state and federal court, with his first jury trial coming at age 24. He has also argued before both the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Court of Appeal. Nathan has defended nearly every type of police litigation that an agency could face, including officer-involved shootings, deaths due to excited delirium, class action litigation, malicious prosecution claims, allegations of excessive force, and allegations of unconstitutional jail conditions. He is adept at defending litigation brought under Section 1983, the Unruh Act, the Ralph Act, and the Bane Act.
Since joining Burke, Nathan has added advisory work to his litigation practice. Nathan advises law enforcement agencies throughout the state on a variety of policy issues. Nathan is particularly focused on issues pertaining to police body-worn cameras, and he has lectured on that topic in multiple venues. Representative clients include the cities of Alhambra, Culver City, Delano, Hemet, Long Beach, and Rialto.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Nick Muscolino is a partner in the firm’s Oakland office. Nick specializes in the legal and procedural defenses available to public entities under California law. He has successfully represented public entities in trial and appellate courts throughout California in disputes concerning inverse condemnation, preemption, eminent domain, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), water rights, flood and storm water diversions, public nuisance, negligence, quiet title, breach of contract, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the First Amendment, Section 1983, preemption, redevelopment dissolution, local land use and zoning, and general plan consistency.
Nick also provides advisory services to cities and other public entities. He has served as a deputy or assistant city attorney to several cities. In that capacity, he advises on the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, CEQA, litigation, mobilehome issues, civil rights issues, affordable housing, and other areas of general municipal law. Nick drafts the staff reports, resolutions, ordinances, and agreements (e.g., purchase and sale, joint powers, loan, disposition and development), that public agencies need to serve the public. He also provides opinion letters on the legality of various housing preferences under state and federal law, and other land use and zoning-related issues.
Nick graduated Order of the Coif from the University of California, Davis in 2009, where he served as an Executive Editor of the Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. After law school, Nick served as a law clerk to the Honorable Justice Morgan Christen of the Alaska Supreme Court (now of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) in Anchorage before entering private practice at a large law firm in San Francisco.
Nick works closely with clients to understand their goals and to determine how to achieve their desired outcomes in the most cost-effective and timely manner.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Karen Murphy is a partner in Burke’s Oakland office and has been representing public agencies for over 20 years. She currently serves as the General Counsel of Union Sanitary District, and advises numerous public agencies on a full range of municipal law issues, including Brown Act, Public Records Act, conflict of interest laws, public contract code, code enforcement, contract review, and bidding and claims procedures. Karen served as the Assistant City Attorney of the City of Brentwood from 2006 to 2011, where she was the primary attorney staffing the Community Development Department and former Redevelopment Agency. From 1999 to 2006, Karen was an associate with the law firm of McDonough Holland & Allen, PC
Karen also has particular expertise advising public agencies on land use and development, housing and real estate issues. She advises public agencies on CEQA compliance, the subdivision map act, and land use approval procedures and processing of land use applications for projects ranging from use permits to complex commercial, mixed-use and residential projects. More recently, she has advised cities on the implementation of California’s new housing laws, including SB 330. In addition, Karen has negotiated and drafted development agreements and amendments for hotel, residential and mixed-use development projects.
Karen’s real estate experience includes drafting and negotiating purchase and sale agreements, leases, easements, licenses, and disposition and development agreements.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Gregory Murphy is a trusted advisor, counselor, and transactional attorney for public entities throughout California. He currently serves as City Attorney for the cities of Buellton, Lawndale and Temple City. Greg also has over 13 years’ experience serving as Assistant or Deputy City Attorney to a number of the firm’s municipal clients and legal counsel to the firm’s joint powers authority and special district clients.
Greg regularly advises elected and appointed officials, navigating delicate issues with politically-divergent boards. He presents clearly and in real-world terms the impacts of legal constraints on agency activities. Greg takes time to understand clients’ long- and short-term goals and how the law affects those objectives, finding ways to achieve them whenever possible. His focus on crafting legal advice that is practical, workable, and client-centered creates confidence and lasting relationships.
Experienced in the areas of land use and development, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), public contract law, prevailing wage law, purchases and sales of real property, and municipal economic issues, Greg has advised developers and public contractors as well as public entities. He attends planning and community development commission meetings and handles closed-session briefings of legislative bodies. He also advises on a number of election law issues ranging from charter amendments and ballot designations to election contests and post-contest litigation. Greg also engages in litigation related to land use, tax, contract, and election issues.
What I’ve Learned: Be creative. If you start a project thinking you can find a way to accomplish it, you’ll often be right. If you start by thinking you can’t accomplish it, you’ll always be right.
Mark Mulkerin's practice includes litigation and commercial matters for public and private entities in a wide variety of subject matters.
Mark has successfully represented clients in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, land use, ground and riparian water matters, public works, construction law and construction defect actions, business and finance matters, products liability, complex business and personal tort, and computer and Internet-related litigation.
Mark has successfully defended public entities, developers, and general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and other design professionals in multi-party construction defect actions, as well as in general legal matters. He also has successfully represented public entities, businesses, and individuals both in the defense and prosecution of civil litigation claims. Mark has also represented EarthLink Network, Inc. and other commercial enterprises in computer law, general business, and Internet-related matters.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Monica Sanchez McQueen is a partner in Burke’s Los Angeles office, representing public and private sector clients in labor and employment law matters.
Monica has represented and advised employers on matters involving numerous federal and state law claims, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, leaves of absence, whistleblower violations, freedom of speech, and association, privacy, and wage and hour, including collective and class action suits. In addition, Monica’s practice includes representation of public employers in areas unique to public employment such as due process, disciplinary procedures, the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, CalPERS, and the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act.
Monica has an extensive counseling practice, focusing on preventive measures of employment and labor law. In this regard, she has drafted and revised employee handbooks, personnel rules, personnel ordinances, updated specific policies and advised public agencies on the handling of a variety of employment matters. Monica has developed and led comprehensive wage and hour audits analyzing City-wide practices of a broad range of job positions and industries and recommended changes to policies, procedures and collective bargaining agreements to ensure compliance with all aspects of state and federal wage and hour laws. Monica has evaluated and responded to CalPERS’ comprehensive pension audit findings of City-wide compensation and reporting practices and developed and implemented policies and procedures to ensure future compliance with CalPERS' rules and regulations.
Monica has represented public agencies in all aspects of labor and has identified issues to bargain, recommended, drafted and responded to proposals, advised lead negotiators and members of bargaining teams, has acted as negotiator for police, fire and miscellaneous unions during labor negotiations, and drafted and oversaw implementation of labor agreements. In addition to labor negotiations, Monica has extensive experience in handling related labor relations matters, such as grievances, PERB proceedings including unfair practices, unit recognition, unit modification, elections, and unit decertification. Monica has negotiated and drafted employment contracts for high-level employees. She also conducts a variety of workplace trainings for managers and employees on matters such as the prevention of discrimination and harassment, workplace violence and working in the public sector.
While attending the University of California, Los Angeles, Monica interned at the United States Department of Education, in the Office of the Secretary, in Washington D.C. While in law school, she was a member of the San Diego Law Review. She was also the secretary for Phi Delta Phi, a legal honor fraternity, and the Secretary for the Hispanic National Bar Association, Law Student Division. Monica studied at the University of San Diego Institute of International and Comparative Law in Barcelona, Spain and Oxford, England.
Pronouns: he, him, his
John McOsker has been a complex business litigator and labor and employment litigator and day-to-day advisor since he joined the State Bar of California in 1993. Throughout his career he has served in various roles for the firms with which he was affiliated including managing partner, litigation group chair, business litigation subcommittee chair and management advisory board. Upon graduation from law school and admission to the bar, John’s practice has been focused on business litigation and labor and employment in the private security, healthcare, insurance, and aviation sectors. John has defended companies in various forms of administrative hearings, agency enforcement actions, and adversarial proceedings, including in front of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Small Business Administration, the United States Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the California Attorney General, CA DFEH and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, as well as in state and federal courts across the state and country.
John represents employers in a wide variety of employment-related matters, including both defense of litigation and day-to-day counseling regarding employment decisions, employee conflict and liability avoidance, and legal compliance. John is a member of the LA County Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Section, which concerns itself with significant developments in employment discrimination law. John has not only experienced labor and employment from a lawyer’s perspective, but he has actively and directly managed legal departments, compliance departments and human resources staffs both in-house and as a dedicated outside Legal/HR Manager, for over a decade. As a result, John has not only first-hand experience giving sound labor and employment advice, but also on-the-ground experience executing legal, compliance and human resources strategies.
Additionally, John assists employers developing strategies to avoid litigation. This includes working with employers to modify employment policies and practices, conducting workplace investigations, engaging in workplace counseling/interactive process, and drafting employee handbooks, employment agreements, arbitration agreements and severance agreements. John assists employers with devising and executing recruiting strategies, reductions-in-force, onboarding and off-boarding. John helps employers devise and roll-out policies that enhance clients’ objectives while complying with the law.
Finally, John has a significant traditional labor law practice, both transactional and adversarial. John negotiates and drafts collective bargaining agreements and memoranda of understanding covering workforces in the service industries spanning unique and diverse jurisdictions, across the state and country. In addition to negotiating and drafting agreements, John defends grievances, conducts arbitrations, represents clients on Unfair Labor Practice charges, participates in representation hearings, elections, de-certifications, and other NLRB proceedings.
John’s entire legal career has been spent in and around Los Angeles and he has volunteered his time and expertise to the local community. He was appointed by Mayor James K. Hahn to serve on the Harbor Area Planning Commission and did so from 2001-2006. He served as the Commission’s President from 2002-2006. In addition to his service on the Area Planning Commission, he was appointed to membership on the Port Community Advisory Committee. He has volunteered as a member of the Board of Managers of the San Pedro Peninsula YMCA since 2005 and has been a legal volunteer for the St. Lawrence Brindisi/Watts Youth Center since 1995. John is a founding Board Member of LA Fleet Week, a non-profit established to annually host the United States Navy for fleet activities in the Los Angeles Harbor beginning 2016.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Stephen A. McEwen joined Burke in 2003. Stephen currently serves as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Atascadero. He previously served as City Attorney for Buellton and Laguna Woods and Assistant City Attorney for the cities of Hemet and Stanton. In these roles, Stephen has drafted numerous ordinances and resolutions and has advised cities on a wide range of legal issues with a special emphasis on the Public Records Act, the Brown Act, and code enforcement. Stephen has also utilized his extensive constitutional law background to advise municipal clients on First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment issues.
Stephen is responsible for supervising code enforcement efforts for Burke’s municipal clients. In this capacity, he utilizes the full range of code enforcement tools, including informal office conferences, inspection warrants, administrative hearings, civil nuisance actions, and misdemeanor prosecutions. Although his emphasis in this area is on resolving code violations without the need for judicial intervention, he has successfully prosecuted numerous code enforcement cases to completion. Stephen obtained a guilty verdict from a jury on all counts against a property owner for maintaining multiple building code and property maintenance violations. He obtained guilty verdicts against two defendants for operating an unpermitted nightclub. He has also obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions in multiple code enforcement matters involving zoning violations, public nuisance conditions, and unpermitted marijuana facilities.
In addition to his code enforcement prosecution experience, Stephen has handled a broad array of litigation for the firm's municipal and governmental clients, including disputes involving eminent domain, inverse condemnation, tort liability, construction defects, construction contract disputes, CEQA, and the Federal Civil Rights Act. He served as co-counsel in a successful bench trial regarding a client's right to take property through eminent domain. Stephen successfully defended the City of East Palo Alto in a trial involving alleged Brown Act and Due Process violations.
Stephen advises municipal clients throughout the state on issues related to medicinal and adult-use marijuana. He has obtained numerous preliminary injunctions against unpermitted dispensaries and successfully defended cities against an array of constitutional and state law challenges brought by dispensary operators. In 2012, he authored the League of California Cities’ amicus brief in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc., in which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that local governments have zoning authority to prohibit medicinal marijuana dispensaries within their boundaries. As a result of this work, Stephen was appointed in 2014 to the League of California Cities Ad Hoc Cannabis Regulation Committee. He also served two terms as the City Attorney Department representative for the League’s Public Safety Policy Committee from 2014-2015.
After law school graduation, Stephen clerked for Judge Arthur L. Alarcon on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He later served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the California Department of Justice. As a prosecutor, Stephen represented the state in two successful trial-level prosecutions, over seventy felony criminal appeals in the California Court of Appeal, and over eighty habeas corpus proceedings in federal district court and the Ninth Circuit. In November 2002, he represented the California Department of Corrections successfully in an evidentiary hearing in Federal District Court in a case involving allegations of prosecutorial misconduct against the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Nancy Marr brings a national perspective to her ERISA and insurance litigation practice. Serving as in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 insurance company on the East Coast, she managed cases across several circuits. She previously practiced with a boutique litigation firm in Los Angeles. Her current focus is in litigation involving life, health and disability coverage, ERISA fiduciary liability, annuity contracts, and bad faith actions.
While in law school, Nancy was a judicial extern for Hon. Dickran Tevrizian, United States District Court, Central District of California, and a note and comment editor for the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal.
Words of wisdom from a senior partner before a first court appearance, “Remember who your client is and know your way to the courthouse.”
Pronouns: he, him, his
Dan Maguire is a partner in Burke’s Palm Desert office. He counsels life, health, and disability insurers in pre-litigation, coverage, trial, and appellate matters.
Dan represents our clients in individual and group disability, life, long-term care and investment product disputes. He is a frequent speaker on insurance and ERISA matters, and has given presentations at numerous national conferences including the Defense Research Institute, ALI/ABA, American Conference Institute, International Disability Insurance Society, Association of Life Insurance Counsel, and Eastern Claims Conference, for which he acts as Vice-President. He is Past Chair of the Health and Disability Insurance Law Committee of ABA-TIPS. His pro bono work has included client representation through Los Angeles Public Counsel, and the Public Service Law Corporation. Dan is also a licensed California Real Estate Broker.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Jack P. Lipton is a Partner and is Chair of our Education Law Practice Group. His practice encompasses a wide range of areas, particularly involving public and private schools and colleges. Jack Lipton has experience in collective bargaining, special education, school facilities, governance, student discipline, human resources, the Brown Act, accreditation, licensing, financial aid, construction, real property transactions, interpretation of the Education Code and Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, contract review, and other legal issues affecting educational institutions, and he has handled cases in both state and federal courts as well as with the Public Employment Relations Board, the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Employment Commission. Jack, who has a Ph.D. in Psychology, has a special interest in the field of psychology-and-law. Jack also has extensive litigation experience, and he has handled writs and appeals before the California Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Jack has served on the Editorial Board for the Journal of College and University Law, published by the National Association of College and University Attorneys.
Jack received his J.D. degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Arizona College of Law, where he served as Articles Editor of the Arizona Law Review and graduated in the top 4% of his class. After law school, Jack served as a Law Clerk to the late Hon. Thomas Tang at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
A member of the California Bar, Jack is admitted to practice in the Northern, Eastern, and Central Districts of the U.S. District Court in California, as well as before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Jack received a B.A. degree in Psychology, cum laude, from U.C.L.A. He earned a Master’s degree in Social Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and his Master’s thesis concerned psychological aspects of eyewitness testimony. Jack received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Riverside; Jack’s doctoral dissertation, sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department, dealt with juries.
Jack Lipton is Principal Bassist and a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Lawyers’ Philharmonic Orchestra.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Jack had a career as an academic psychologist and taught at Humboldt State University, Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. Also, before earning his Ph.D., Jack taught at Chaffey College, Fullerton College, and San Bernardino Valley College. Jack has been an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, and at Southwestern University School of Law, where he teaches Education Law.
Jack Lipton has served as a Mediator and an Arbitrator, and he was Foreperson of the Grand Jury for the Central District of California.
Jack has served as Chair of the Committee on Legal Issues of the American Psychological Association (“APA”) where he was involved with amicus briefs on behalf of the APA. Though currently inactive, Jack is licensed or certified to practice psychology in California, Arizona, and New York. As a psychologist, Jack has served as a consultant in both the public and private sectors, and he has regularly testified as an expert witness.
Jack is widely published and has given lectures and presentations in forums throughout the United States and abroad such as at universities and professional conferences. Jack also provides legal assistance to psychologists and other mental health professionals.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Martin Kosla primarily practices in the areas of real estate, business and public law.
Martin has handled numerous judicial foreclosure matters for public entities concerning delinquent special taxes and assessments, including assisting clients with complex workouts, and taking judicial foreclosure cases to trial. He also has experience in handling real estate transactions, including preparing agreements related to the purchase, sale, and lease of real estate. He has experience is drafting various agreements concerning real property, including purchase and sale agreement, easements and deeds of trust, as well as affordable housing agreements. (Martin is also licensed as a real estate broker in California.)
He has also handled a broad range of business litigation cases ranging from defending companies for breach of contract arising out of the supply of goods and services to representing officers of private companies in disputes between their members. Martin has experience in transactional work, including preparing documents associated with the formation of California corporations and limited liability companies. He also has experience in handling trademark matters for private and public clients.
Martin has experience in defending government entities against alleged breaches of constitutional rights, including claims under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments.
Prior to relocating to California, Martin practiced for four years as an attorney in Melbourne, Australia, where he specialized in all aspects of business litigation. During this time, Martin also handled various real estate and transactional matters for individual and corporate clients.
Before becoming an attorney, Martin served as a forward observer in the Royal Australian Artillery.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Keiko Kojima's practice includes a broad range of litigation matters, including insurance coverage disputes, bad faith liability actions, and contractual disputes. Keiko's primary focus is in the area of ERISA and employee benefits, including the representation of insurers in life, health, and disability litigation. She also provides litigation assistance to the firm's Education Law Practice Group.
While attending Brown University, Keiko interned for former Congressman Esteban E. Torres in Washington D.C. She was also selected to participate in the Everett Public Service Internship Program to work as a summer intern for Citizens for Tax Justice in Washington D.C. While in law school, she received an American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Michelle Kenyon provides legal representation for cities and other public agencies as city attorney and special counsel. Michelle currently serves as City Attorney for the cities of Rohnert Park, Calistoga, Piedmont and Pacifica, Town Attorney for the Town of Moraga, and Special Counsel to several cities in the Bay Area. She previously has served as Acting/Interim City Attorney for many cities including the City of Redwood City, Daly City, Pleasant Hill, and the Town of Danville. Her practice includes advising city councils and staff in all areas of municipal law issues such as annexation procedures, bidding and claims procedures, CEQA, code enforcement, conflicts of interest laws, contract review, elections, Government Tort Claims Act, initiatives, referenda, land use and planning, municipal finance, open meeting laws, personnel, Proposition 218, and water supply assessments.
Michelle’s other areas of specialty include land use litigation and appellate advocacy. She is experienced in both state and federal trial and appellate courts, including written appearances in the U.S. Supreme Court. She has successfully served as lead attorney in litigation involving CEQA, inverse condemnation, election law, civil rights, Proposition 218 and rent control, with several outcomes garnering published decisions.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Thomas Jex is a partner with the firm and serves as the City Attorney for the City of Wildomar, Town Attorney for the Town of Yucca Valley, and provides special counsel services for the Jurupa Unified School District.
Tom serves as a trusted advisor to public agency governing bodies, commissions, and staff on a wide array of municipal legal issues, including the Brown Act, Public Records Act, conflict of interest laws, planning and zoning laws, contracts, and constitutional issues, among others. He delivers advice to clients in a manner that is understandable and contains practical guidance that can be readily applied in the real world. Tom provides advice on both legal compliance and risk assessment, understanding that many situations faced by public agencies do not have clear cut answers.
Tom regularly advises elected and appointed officials, navigating delicate issues with politically-divergent boards. He clearly presents the impacts of legal constraints on agency activities. Tom takes time to understand the agency’s long- and short-term goals and how the law affects those objectives, finding ways to achieve them whenever possible. He focuses on crafting legal advice that is practical and workable.
Tom augments his practice by serving as a member of the Brown Act Committee of the League of California Cities - City Attorney's Department. He has served as an adjunct professor for the University of California Riverside Extension where he taught courses on the Public Records Act and Redevelopment Law.
Tom lived for two years in Quito, Ecuador and is proficient in Spanish.
Pronouns: he, him, his
David Hyndman practices primarily in the area of commercial litigation, with a focus on construction disputes and related matters. He represents public and private entity clients in a variety of projects, including EPC contracting, construction management, public works projects, and other complex construction matters. His experience includes evaluating and resolving claims and disputes involving water processing plants, power plants, roadways, schools, hospitals, tunnels, and airports, among other issues. David also represents clients in commercial disputes and general litigation matters. During the course of his career, he has represented clients in jury trials, arbitrations, and mediations. David is admitted to practice in both California and Wisconsin.
David also has significant experience in implementing efficient and effective procedures for managing pretrial discovery in complex cases. This has frequently included managing document intensive e-discovery and electronic database issues, including implementing cost effective protocols for the review and production of millions of paper and electronic documents, as required by and in compliance with current and evolving Federal and State rules.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Chad Herrington provides legal representation for cities, counties, and other public agencies. He currently serves as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Eastvale, and provides general counsel services to numerous other cities and agencies throughout California. His practice involves advising public agencies in all areas of municipal law including the public records act, open meeting laws, conflicts of interest laws, contracting issues, procurement, code enforcement, CEQA, and land use and zoning. Chad enjoys working closely with elected officials, commissioners, and staff to provide legal solutions and practical advice on a wide range of issues.
Chad's other area of specialty includes municipal law litigation, with a focus on eminent domain, inverse condemnation, contract and property disputes, and tort claims. His litigation experience includes the successful representation of public entity clients at all stages of litigation, including trials and appeals.
Chad is passionate about public law and has been working with public entities his entire career. Prior to joining Burke, Williams & Sorensen in 2012, Chad served as a graduate law clerk and attorney in the Alameda County Counsel's Office, and worked for a private firm representing school districts and community college districts in a variety of transactional and litigation matters.
John also practices in the areas of personnel and employment law, with a focus on school district personnel issues and labor relations. He has also compiled a successful record representing school districts in arbitration hearings and unfair practice claims before PERB. John has also been certified as an Interest Based Bargaining trainer, and speaks frequently before industry associations on charter school and school district personnel legal issues.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Brian Hamblet is a partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP with over 20 years of experience working with public agencies. Brian provides legal advice to numerous public entities across the state including Santa Clarita, Burbank, Atascadero, and Lawndale.
Brian’s interest in representing public entities began before graduating law school while he was a law clerk at a firm defending the cities of Beverly Hills and Ventura. Since then, Brian has developed a strong background in advising and defending governmental entities and their employees in a wide range of matters including the Public Records Act, the Brown Act, tort litigation, particularly premises liability, dangerous condition of public property, wrongful death, constitutional law, and civil rights litigation.
Brian also serves as the City Prosecutor for numerous cities including Rosemead, Camarillo, and Santa Clarita where he successfully handles criminal litigation and prosecution of code enforcement matters. Serving in these capacities has given Brian a broad range of litigation experience which he continues to expand upon to successfully advise and represent his clients.
As a litigator Brian has also successfully litigated and tried cases to verdict for both public agencies and private clients in the areas of bodily injury, contract disputes, employment discrimination, products liability, motor vehicle warranty, toxic tort, and unfair business practices, as well as bankruptcy, preference and fraudulent transfer litigation.
Brian received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in business administration from UCLA in 1987. He graduated magna cum laude from Loyola Law School, in 2000 where he was ranked number one in his division and received numerous honors including the Order of the Coif, the Sayre MacNeil Scholars Award, the Dean’s Scholarship for Academic Excellence, the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in Ethical Lawyering, and First Honors Awards in 1st Amendment Law, as well as Initiative and Referendum Law. Brian was also appointed a member of the Order of the Coif, the St. Thomas More Law Honor Society, and Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society and was an Editor on the Loyola Law Review. Brian has also lectured extensively for the City Attorneys Association of Los Angeles County (“CAALAC”) as well as the University of Southern California, Loyola Law School, and Mount Saint Mary’s College.
Brian is the current president of the City Attorneys Association of Los Angeles County (CAALAC).
Prior to becoming an attorney, Brian was an apprentice editor on the movie, Father of the Bride II.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Stephanie Gutierrez is a senior associate attorney at the Riverside office of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP and is a member of the Public Law Practice Group. Stephanie advises cities and other public agencies on a variety of public law issues related to the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act, and code enforcement.
Stephanie regularly drafts contracts, ordinances, and resolutions as well as other development related agreements. She also routinely represents city planning commissions at their meetings and provides training to local government officials. In addition, Stephanie contributes to the League of California Cities’ Municipal Law Handbook. Stephanie earned her Juris Doctor degree from University of La Verne College of Law. During law school, she served as a judicial extern for Associate Justice Carol D. Codrington of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, and was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Law Business and Ethics. She also received a Master of Public Administration degree from University of La Verne College of Business and Public Management.
Stephanie has received a lot of advice throughout her legal journey by her mentors, but has received the best from her family: "In between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived and enjoyed."
Laurie Gustafson is an accomplished commercial real estate attorney with more than 25 years of experience. Laurie focuses her practice on complex real estate, finance and construction transactions. She assists clients, both private and public, with the acquisition and disposition of commercial real property, due diligence, financing, leasing, design and construction, development and management. She handles a wide range of projects including offices, corporate campuses, retail, restaurant, shopping centers, multi-family, industrial, rural, infrastructure and mixed use. Laurie has also represented numerous cities throughout California as special real estate counsel on real property acquisitions, dispositions and leasing. She has also assisted cities with the negotiation, documentation and closing on affordable housing projects.
Laurie served as the Law Clerk to Chief Justice Edmond W. Burke of the Alaska Supreme Court from 1984-1985.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Brian Ginter is experienced in all phases of civil litigation from pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations and pre-judgment provisional relief through trial and appeal. He has obtained favorable results for clients at all stages of their dispute, including temporary restraining orders, writs of attachment, summary judgment, and verdict.
Brian’s practice is concentrated in the areas of business litigation, employment law, and professional liability. Having had the benefit of working in litigation firms since he was admitted to the bar, and before that as a paralegal and law clerk, he is able to prosecute and defend a wide variety of cases, which have included allegations of fraud, mass tort, unfair competition, and breach of contract. Recently, he second-chaired a trial involving a breach of contract claim by a harbor terminal company against a defaulting tenant. The case also involved allegations by the defendant that the terminal company breached the contract and damaged the defendant’s oil trading business by approximately $30 million. After a bench trial, the defendant agreed to settle the case by paying the firm’s client over $5 million.
Brian’s employment law experience involves claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. He is frequently called upon to assist clients in difficult and sensitive cases of whistleblower retaliation or fraud and other criminal activity. Brian represented the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission in matters arising out of wide-ranging public corruption. The cases included claims against event promoters that paid more than $2 million to a person who was then employed by the Coliseum Commission. After approximately six years of litigation, which included a successful appeal to the California Court of Appeal and a parallel criminal prosecution, the defendants agreed to pay the Coliseum Commission $3.5 million. Other recent work includes representation of a public entity in defense of race discrimination allegations. The case resulted in a unanimous defense verdict after a two-week trial.
In the professional liability arena, Brian has successfully represented lawyers, architects, and engineers involving claims of breach of contract, malpractice, conflicts of interest, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. He has also litigated claims against these professionals as well as accountants when the professional’s service has caused injury to the client.
Away from the office, Brian enjoys staying active in competitive sports. He is an avid baseball player. Along with his wife, he also races with the Vintage Auto Racing Association and other vintage auto racing organizations.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Algeria Ford is a member of the Public Law, Labor and Employment, and Education practice groups. In the area of litigation, Al’s practice includes labor and employment litigation, civil rights litigation, tort litigation, and code enforcement and marijuana litigation. Al’s practice also includes conducting independent internal investigations, serving as lead labor negotiator for public entity negotiations, advising and representing employers on discipline issues and during grievance procedures, drafting ordinances, and providing general advice to department heads, elected officials, and private employers. Al currently serves as General Counsel for the Banning Library District and as special counsel for the Hesperia Unified School District, the Val Verde Unified School District, and Fritts Ford Riverside. Al also currently serves as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Cathedral City and the City of Rialto.
Prior to joining the firm, Al represented public sector clients while employed with the San Bernardino Office of County Counsel as a member of both the litigation and employment groups. As a member of the Office’s litigation group he defended County departments and employees in numerous state and federal court cases. In that capacity Al obtained successful results on various motions and as counsel in jury trials. As a member of the Office’s employment group, he served as primary employment counsel for the County’s Sheriff Department, assisted in drafting policies and rules, regularly advised on POBR issues, Internal Affairs Investigations and employment disputes, and represented the County before the Civil Service Commission and during labor negotiations. In addition, Al advised the Sheriff Department during federal investigations.
An experienced litigator, Al previously worked as a Deputy District Attorney with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted multiple cases to jury verdict. Prior to that he worked for the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office, obtaining successful results for clients at hearings and jury trial.
During law School, Al was the Editor-in-Chief of two of the school’s three legal journals, was a member of the Moot Court Board, and served on the school’s National Trial and National Environmental Moot Court Teams. In addition, he won the School’s prestigious oral advocacy competition during his second year of law school and received honors for obtaining the highest grade in Advanced Constitutional Law, Advanced Trial Practice, and Criminal Procedure.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Nira Doherty is an experienced city attorney, litigator, and land use expert. Her litigation and transactional practices emphasize land use, CEQA, housing and government law issues. She serves as the City Attorney for the City of Menlo Park, General Counsel for the Tahoe Transportation District, and Assistant City Attorney for the City of Benicia.
Nira serves as special counsel to dozens of city and public agency clients on land use, zoning, CEQA and Subdivision Map Act matters. She represents clients in all phases of development including entitlement and administrative approvals, general plan updates, CEQA compliance and enforcement of zoning laws.
Nira advises public agency clients on State housing laws including Density Bonus Law, SB 35, Housing Accountability Act, SB 330 and ADU laws. She has negotiated and drafted development agreements and performed affordable housing diligence review.
Nira has also overseen citizen initiatives from inception to election and represented cities in litigation regarding ballot measures. She has successfully served as lead attorney in litigation involving CEQA, general plan updates, inverse condemnation, contract disputes, health and safety receiverships, code enforcement matters, and tort claims.
Nira graduated from UC Davis School of Law where she was a member of the UC Davis Law Review and Editor-in-Chief of the UC Davis Environmental Law and Policy Journal. Nira externed for the former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court, N. Dist. of California and clerked for Judge Steven Bernard of the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Kara DiBiasio is an accomplished trial lawyer, specializing in real estate, CEQA litigation, and eminent domain. Kara handles all types of real estate litigation, including common area disputes for residential, commercial and retail properties, enforcement of ECR, CC&R, and other restrictive covenants, disputes regarding development agreements, leases, purchase and sale agreements, and other breach of contract claims. Kara’s practice also encompasses commercial matters, including partnership and contract disputes.
Kara has represented Fortune 500 companies, business owners, property owners, retailers, public utilities, public entities, private individuals, landlords and tenants in matters involving shopping centers, mixed use projects, industrial properties, residential properties, and master plan communities.
Kara has successfully resolved cases for her clients through jury trials, motion practice, and settlement including mediation. Kara handles all aspects of litigation, including pre-lawsuit counseling, initial investigation, development and execution of strategic discovery plans, handling of complex e-discovery matters, and though depositions, motion practice, settlement discussions, ADR, trial preparation, and trial.
Kara earned her J.D. from UC Davis, where she was a member of the Negotiations Honors Board, Moot Court Board, and winner of the 43rd Annual Neumiller Moot Court Competition. Kara graduated as a member of the Order of the Barristers for excellence in oral advocacy. During law school, Kara interned at the California Department of Justice in the Office of the Attorney General working in the Appeals, Writs and Trials division.
Kara has continued her commitment to her alma mater as an Adjunct Professor at UC Davis, King Hall School of Law. Kara teaches law students practical skills they will use throughout their legal careers, including negotiation strategies and effective client interviewing and counseling.
Kara earned her B.A. from California State University, Chico, where she studied political science and graduated summa cum laude. While studying at Chico State, Kara worked in a legal clinic, where she provided legal assistance to tenants and landlords in matters including habitability issues and unlawful detainers.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Sheila Delshad represents clients in various labor and employment law matters. Her counseling practice focuses on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour claims, independent contractor issues, employment contracts, due process, medical leaves and disability accommodation and public pension and health benefits. Sheila also has extensive experience counseling and assisting clients with internal reviews and revisions of employment policies and procedures, as well as conducting neutral investigations of workplace complaints.
Sheila has served as lead labor negotiator for multiple collective bargaining agreements and continually advises employers on an array of labor relations matters such as the meet and confer process, grievances, discipline, layoffs, reorganizations and contracting out.
Sheila’s litigation practice includes considerable work defending public agencies against class action claims of worker misclassification and discrimination. She has defended and counseled employers in matters involving both state and federal law, such as equal employment opportunity under Title VII, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disability Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Family Rights Act, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Act and the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act.
While attending University of Southern California Law School, Sheila represented indigent clients with USC’s Immigration Law Clinic and with Bet Tzedek Legal Services. Sheila has also served as an extern to the United States Attorney's Office and as a law clerk to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Timothy Davis is a partner in Burke, Williams & Sorensen's Silicon Valley office and is Chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Law practice group.
Tim has tried to verdict employment cases in both federal and state court, and has conducted over 70 employment arbitrations. Tim routinely defends employers in litigation matters in actions involving state and federal law, such as Title VII, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Americans with Disability Act, Age Discrimination and Employment Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, California Family Rights Act, California Pregnancy Disability Act, Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, and wage and hour issues, including wage and hour class actions. He has represented employers in claims of wrongful termination, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of loyalty, unlawful interference with prospective economic advantage, unfair competition, and constitutional rights violations. His practice also includes the representation of employers before state, federal, and local administrative proceedings, including the Department of Labor, local civil service commissions, PERB, EEOC, and OSHA. Tim's reported decisions include Alhambra Police Officers Association v. City of Alhambra, (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th, 413.
Tim also represents both public and private employers as a lead negotiator during collective bargaining with their employee groups, including police, fire, general employees, and management groups. Additionally, his practice includes internal investigations of employment complaints involving discrimination and harassment, as well as the presentation of seminars on how to prevent discrimination and harassment and investigate allegations of discrimination and harassment. He also trains human resources professionals and managers regarding proper investigation techniques. His practice includes development of personnel rules and policies including discipline and grievance procedures, and the investigation of grievances. He advises management clients on labor and employment law compliance matters. He has also served as legal advisor during grievance proceedings.
Tim's commitment and experience in public law began in law school, where he co-authored the article, "Does a Public Law Attorney Owe a Duty to Third Parties?" which appeared in the Summer 1994 issue of the Public Law Journal.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Don Davis has provided contract city attorney and general counsel services to public agencies throughout California for over 25 years. He currently serves as the City Attorney for Rolling Hills Estates, Assistant City Attorney for the City of Camarillo, General Counsel for the Friant Water Authority, and General Counsel for the Bear Valley Community Services District. Don also provides special counsel services for numerous other Burke public entity clients.
Don has considerable expertise in land use and planning having advised numerous planning commissions and city councils throughout his legal career. He regularly consults with city planning staffs on matters ranging from General Plan amendments to use permits. Don has drafted dozens of major zoning and land use ordinances. His land use practice emphasizes the regulation of matters that implicate federal and state rights of freedom of speech and expression such as signage, adult businesses, protests, and solicitation.
Don enjoys governance issues and has extensive experience in the preparation and amendment of various governance documents such as joint exercise of powers agreements, joint powers authority bylaws, and memorandums of understanding between multiple agencies.
Don is an authority on the Brown Act, Public Records Act, and other government transparency and ethics laws and is the firm’s principal instructor for AB 1234 ethics trainings. He has provided seminars around the state on these subjects, which have been attended by hundreds of public officials and staff members. He is the principal author of the Brown Act Compliance Manual and the Public Records Act Compliance Manual for the California Special Districts Association. Don is an advocate for the use of plain language in governmental documents and his writing seminars on the topic are popular with local government associations and agencies.
Don regularly handles a broad range of real estate transactional matters for public agencies such as property acquisitions, financing, leasing, and dispositions. As part of such transactions, he provides advice on appraisals, title reports, legal descriptions, engineering, and survey issues. In the course of his practice, Don has assisted public and private clients in the purchase or sale of thousands of acres of property valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Don has drafted a variety of easement, license, and encroachment agreements with respect to both public and private uses and projects. Don has also worked on solar energy projects, including power purchase agreements.
Don has significant experience with a wide variety of environmental issues including CEQA and NEPA. In working with the firm’s public and private clients, Don has handled all aspects of the CEQA/NEPA compliance process, including the hiring and management of project specialists in various environmental disciplines. He routinely provides advice and opinions on
CEQA/NEPA compliance strategies, and has reviewed and commented on numerous CEQA/NEPA documents ranging from notices of preparation to mitigated negative declarations and environmental impact reports.
Don is proficient in negotiating, drafting, and reviewing contacts for public agencies, including contracts for public works projects, maintenance, goods and services, consultants and professional services. Don is a strong proponent of plain language in public contracts, which should be readable and understandable to public agency staff and the general public – not just lawyers.
Don regularly provides advice on a range of public finance matters such as Proposition 218 and 26, the adoption and adjustment of public fees, rates and charges (including sewer, water and solid waste rates), and has advised clients on the formation and oversight of assessment districts, community facilities districts, and other special financing mechanisms.
As a litigator, Don has successfully defended public agencies in matters involving due process, equal protection, freedom of speech, government torts, inverse condemnation, public bidding and contract disputes, and writs of mandamus including CEQA suits. Don also has represented private clients in real estate, contract, and business-related litigation.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Don served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Yemen and also worked as an international educational consultant.
Pronouns: he, him, his
A partner with Burke, Williams & Sorensen LLP, David Darroch practices in the area of construction disputes, litigation and alternative dispute resolution. For the past 20 years, David has focused his practice primarily in the specialized field of construction law, construction litigation and construction-related issues. He represents public and private entities in the area of power engineering, infrastructure, transportation, wastewater, and industrial process engineering. David has extensive expertise counseling owners, construction firms, designers, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers regarding construction change management and project disputes. He has experience assisting clients with dispute resolution boards, mediations, and other informal dispute resolution methods and has extensive experience in prosecuting and defending claims and trying cases to verdict, including jury trials, court trials, arbitrations and appeals in construction matters large and small.
David is admitted to practice in the State and Federal courts of California, and has been admitted pro hac vice in various other jurisdictions in the United States.
Douglas Dal Cielo specializes in general business litigation and family law. Areas of expertise include real estate, business torts, employment litigation, and corporate disputes. He possesses significant trial experience, including eight jury trials and over 15 court trials. Doug’s last two jury trials resulted in verdicts for his clients in excess of $12 million and $2 million on behalf of plaintiffs. He has taken over 300 depositions, and served as a court appointed arbitrator and mediator. Recent accomplishments include the settlement of a $5 million shareholder dispute on behalf of the minority shareholder, a $3.2 million wrongful termination and fraud claim on behalf of the plaintiffs, a $1.6 million mechanic’s lien foreclosure action on behalf of the claimant contractor, and a $12 million jury verdict on behalf of a plaintiff in an elder abuse claim in Santa Clara County.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
For over twenty years, Deirdre Joan Cox has practiced in the construction and public contracting field. Joan's practice involves representing public agencies in complex construction matters, including strategizing development and procurement approaches, drafting construction documents, including performance and payment bonds and parent guarantees, advising clients during the course of construction, claims review and analysis, and claims resolution, including mediation, arbitration, and litigation. She assists in the resolution of issues that occur at the intersections between funding, design, acquisition, and construction. She serves as special counsel to a number of local agencies and general counsel for the Olivehurst Public Utility District. She has extensive litigation experience in state and federal court. Her efforts, from a project’s early stages through trial and beyond, allow public agencies to deliver public projects on time and on budget.
Her experience includes multi-million dollar projects for cities, counties, and other municipalities, including hospitals, community college, school and special districts, and other commercial facilities in myriad bond funded projects, individual projects, and capital improvement programs. She has particular experience in lease revenue bond financing, Mello-Roos bonds, public private partnerships, and other financing mechanisms.
Joan has extensive experience working with public entity clients to develop construction project manuals: “front-end” construction documents for all types of public works projects using delivery methods that involve competitive bidding utilizing lowest responsive, responsible bidding and “best value” concepts for traditional hard bid / design-bid-build, design-build, construction manager at risk, and lease-leaseback delivery mechanisms. She also drafts contracts for architects, engineers and other professionals.
Her work includes preparing the project documentation including drafting, negotiation, structuring of delivery and procurement approaches and risk evaluation. She also assists public entity clients in administering the bidding process and facilitating the defense and handling of bid protests, subcontractor listing, project setup, and related issues that arise during the bidding / proposal process including attending hearings and assisting in preparing findings and conclusions.
Joan also has experience in inverse condemnation and California land use, development and CEQA law, having represented both private and public entities in connection with flood control disputes, water rights, and environmental impact review/mitigated negative declaration issues.
Joan received her J.D. with honors from Golden Gate University School of Law. She served as a Settlement Commissioner for the Alameda County Superior Court, a fee arbitrator and a private mediator. She taught contract law at East Bay Law School for ten years. She has also taught Public Finance and Law & Economics at Golden Gate University. Over the last 12 years, Joan served as the Planning Commissioner, Councilmember, and Mayor of the City of Sausalito.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Susan Coleman is a Partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen LLP with 27 years litigation experience and a strong background in constitutional law/civil rights litigation and employment law. Susan has defended individuals and officials, governmental entities and corporations in 50 civil jury trials in federal and state courts throughout California, with very successful results (over 95% defense verdicts). Susan is an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).
Susan worked for the Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, for over 13 years. Since going to private practice, Susan has represented various entities such as the cities of Alhambra, Burbank, Hemet, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Modesto, Newport Beach, Pasadena, Simi Valley, Stockton and Riverside; the county of San Bernardino; the GEO Group; Management & Training Corporation; Alcohol Monitoring Systems Inc., the Bureau of Prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and those entities’ individual employees and executives.
Susan also has extensive experience with class action litigation, including several class actions on behalf of the Department of Corrections, and she represented the Board of Parole Hearings in a lengthy bench trial involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (Armstrong v. Davis). In the last few years, Susan has defeated class certification in cases for various clients.
Susan has specialties in certain unique areas of law including officer-involved shootings and other uses of force, alleged wrongful conviction cases and ankle-monitor related litigation (for companies such as AMS, B.I. Inc., and LCA Inc.). She also conducts personnel investigations as needed for clients.
Susan has consistently taken measures to ensure excellent representation of her clients in a cost-effective manner. For example, she recommends LVN review and summary of medical records (providing a medical expertise at a fraction of attorney billing rates); she keeps brief banks on common areas of law in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel for each case; and she takes every effort to eliminate defendants and/or claims from the case at the earliest opportunity, prevailing on many cases at the motion to dismiss or demurrer stage. While many cases cannot be defeated at the initial motion stage, Susan has had excellent results in prevailing in summary judgment and at trial. She is also in favor of, and actively pursues, measures to decrease future litigation, such as pursuing the award and recovery of costs after prevailing, having plaintiffs declared as vexatious litigants where appropriate, or seeking recovery of fees and costs under FRCP 41(d) for prior lawsuits when there are successive similar lawsuits.
During law school, Susan served as Articles Editor for the Santa Clara Law Review. In addition, she held a clerkship for the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District for Justice J. Smith. After obtaining her J.D., Susan attended San Francisco State University’s Master’s in Tax program from 1994-1996, completing all but thesis.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Leah Castella is a partner in Burke’s Oakland office. She received her J.D. with Honors from the University of Texas, Austin in 1999 and her B.A. in Philosophy from Lewis & Clark College in 1995. She currently serves as the General Counsel of Ironhouse Sanitary District and Valley of the Moon Water District and as the Assistant General Counsel for Union Sanitary District and Vallejo Flood and Wastewater District.
As a seasoned public law lawyer, Leah is familiar with the full range of laws affecting California public agencies, including the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act, Proposition 218, and the Public Trust Doctrine. She has particular expertise advising public agencies on governance, rate setting, election law, and constitutional law.
Leah is also an experienced litigator and appellate advocate. She has handled dozens of cases in state and federal court on behalf of public and private clients. And she has successfully argued over a dozen cases in the California Court of Appeals involving myriad issues, including the public trust doctrine, California’s Anti-SLAPP statute, attorney’s fees, the Medicaid Act, Proposition 218, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), inverse condemnation, and redevelopment dissolution disputes.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Megan A. Burke provides municipal law services to public agencies throughout California. She currently serves as the Assistant General Counsel for Valley of the Moon Water District and as the Assistant Counsel for the Eastern Contra Costa Transit District. Megan specializes in revenue issues, such as the adoption and defense of rates, fees, and taxes in compliance with Propositions 13, 218 and 26 and the Mitigation Fee Act. For example, she has assisted local agencies with the establishment and increase of rates for water, sewer and solid waste services and the adoption and management of various impact fees. Megan has also defended multiple lawsuits challenging the legality of rates and impact fees under the California Constitution and state law.
In addition, Megan provides special counsel litigation and advisory services on a wide range of public law matters, including the Bradley-Burns local sales tax law, eminent domain, inverse condemnation, local land use and zoning issues, general municipal law, the California Public Records Act, and conflicts of interest. Megan is currently prosecuting several actions on behalf of cities and successor agencies against the Department of Finance, which challenge adverse determinations related to the dissolution of redevelopment agencies.
Joseph Buchman maintains a diverse litigation and transactional practice, acts as general counsel to Montebello Land & Water Co., a mutual benefit non-profit water company, and as counsel to the Los Angeles Unified School District School Construction Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee.
Joseph has extensive background in public, corporate, business, and real estate matters, acquired from years of experience representing and advising clients in bankruptcy matters, eminent domain, real estate and title litigation, purchase and sale transactions, financing transactions, probate and estate planning, tort litigation, collection actions, contract disputes, and election litigation.
Susan Bloch specializes in affordable housing, economic development, and transactional real estate matters. Susan has over 25 years of experience representing private and non-profit developers and public agencies, including cities, counties, housing authorities, and redevelopment successor agencies in transactions involving the acquisition, development, financing, leasing and sale of residential, commercial and industrial properties; and the development and implementation of affordable housing policies and programs.
Susan has provided special counsel services on real estate and affordable housing transactions for Alameda County, Placer County, the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, the cities of Oakland, San Jose, Union City, San Leandro, Mountain View, Morgan Hill, San Carlos, Daly City, South San Francisco, Petaluma, Napa, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Dublin, Cathedral City, Rialto, Hemet, and Livermore, and other public entities including Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, Renewal Enterprise District, Sacramento Regional Transit District, East Bay Regional Parks District, the Transportation Agency of Monterey County, and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District. Her nonprofit clients include Veterans Housing Development Corporation, Christian Church Homes, YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley, the California Odd Fellows Foundation, and the Hilarita-Tiburon Ecumenical Association.
Before beginning her practice as an attorney, Susan served as Program Manager with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and as a consultant to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and the National Economic Development and Law Center. She has been a speaker at conferences and seminars sponsored by the League of California Cities, the California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), the Real Property Section of the California State Bar, the California Redevelopment Association, Housing California, the Northern California Association for Non-Profit Housing, California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED), the California Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (Cal-ALHFA), the Bay Area City Attorneys Association (BACA) and the City Attorneys Association of Los Angeles County (CAALAC). She has served as a member of the Board of Directors of California Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies since 2014.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Michael brings nearly thirty years of experience to his practice advising public agencies on all matters of municipal law while emphasizing real estate acquisition, site remediation, land use, CEQA, land disposition and development, and redevelopment dissolution. Michael served the City of Emeryville as its City Attorney from 1994 through 2015, after serving as its Assistant City Attorney for the previous five years, and routinely advised elected and appointed officials, City management and staff on a broad range of issues relating to economic redevelopment, hazardous materials remediation, affordable housing, planning and zoning, public contracting, public art, public finance (taxes, impact fees, assessments), governance (Ralph M. Brown Act, Public Records Act, Political Reform Act), and elections. Michael was also responsible for the management of several site remediation projects undertaken by the City and its former Redevelopment Agency, as well as the City’s regulatory Brownfields Program in coordination with the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Michael is a member of the Post-Redevelopment Task Force organized by the City Attorney’s division of the League of California Cities to provide guidance to cities and successor agencies on redevelopment dissolution matters.
Michael Bernacchi is a trial attorney whose practice is devoted to both commercial litigation and defense of life, health, disability, and property/casualty insurance claims. He has engaged in civil litigation and trials in state and federal courts for over twenty years. He has tried or second-chaired numerous cases to a conclusion. His business litigation experience includes complex business disputes, including actions under Business and Professions Code §17200, and litigation involving Proposition 64. He specializes in defending bad faith and ERISA claims but also has experience in property and casualty cases and environmental coverage disputes, recently successfully litigating several such cases on behalf of Beneficial Fire and Casualty Insurance Company.
Mike received his B.A. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1988 (cum laude in political science) and his J.D. degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles in 1992. While at Loyola, Mike was a note and comment editor for the Loyola Law Review.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Denise Bazzano is a member of Burke’s Public Law Practice Group where she leverages her multi-faceted experience in municipal law and litigation to assist public entities in a variety of legal and regulatory matters.
Denise regularly advises city councils, planning commissions, boards and staff on a wide range of both transactional and litigated matters including issues relating to code enforcement, cannabis regulation, contracts, land use, public works projects, animal control, purchasing, and liability exposure. Additionally, she provides regular advice regarding compliance with the Brown Act, the California and U.S. Constitutions, the Subdivision Map Act, and the Public Records Act. Denise also provides AB 1234 training as well as specialized training in the Public Records Act and other areas of public law.
Denise also advises clients on a broad range of land use and planning matters, including advising public agencies on issues related to CEQA compliance, land use approval procedures, and processing of land use applications for both commercial and residential development projects. Denise also provides advice on real estate transactions and has experience drafting and negotiating purchase and sale agreements, lease agreements, lease terminations, easements and development agreements.
Denise has extensive experience in code enforcement issues and regularly advises city councils, commissions, and staff on the interpretation and application of administrative laws and procedures, zoning regulations, as well as criminal enforcement of municipal codes. Additionally, Denise advises clients on constitutional considerations relating to a public agency’s enforcement efforts. She has worked with several cities to develop programs relating to the regulation of special industries such as massage and cannabis. Due to Denise’s skills and experience, she is able to provide both advisory and litigation services to her clients on enforcement issues relating to blighted property and substandard buildings. For each of her clients, Denise works closely with staff to develop an enforcement strategy that complies with legal requirements and achieves the code enforcement goals of the client.
Denise is currently a member of the League of California Cities Cannabis Regulation Committee.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Daphne Anneet is an experienced litigator, labor negotiator, and investigator. Daphne is Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and Vice-Chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. She has also served as a member of the firm’s Management Committee.
A skilled litigator, Daphne has achieved excellent results for clients in state and federal court, as well as in arbitrations and administrative proceedings. She represents public and private entities in matters ranging from class actions, discrimination, harassment, whistleblower retaliation, wage and hour, worker misclassification, pension, civil rights, unfair labor practice disputes, false claims, and disciplinary appeals. As lead defense counsel in numerous class actions and complex litigation, Daphne has a proven track record of achieving successful results in a variety of creative and cost-effective ways. A graduate of the LA County Bar Association’s Trial Advocacy Project, Daphne has served as a pro bono prosecutor.
Daphne serves as the lead negotiator for employers during collective bargaining. She has successfully negotiated challenging and sensitive issues such as contracting out of fire services and waste management services, salary and health benefit concessions, furloughs, layoffs, changes to retiree medical benefits, and changes to pension benefit formulas and contributions. Daphne also has experience representing employers during fact finding proceedings.
As an investigator, Daphne has earned the distinction of Association of Workplace Investigators Certificate Holder (AWI-CH). She conducts independent investigations of complaints involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, workplace misconduct, and alleged conflicts of interest. She also enjoys training and has written and lectured on a wide array of employment issues for many organizations at their annual training conferences and conventions.
In recent years, Daphne has taken on the role of General Counsel to local commissions. She serves as General Counsel to the City of Coronado’s Civil Service Commission. She has also served as General Counsel to the Simi Valley Disciplinary Appeal Board.
A team builder and team player, Daphne brings together superior litigation skills and subject matter expertise within the firm to develop winning litigation strategies. Daphne thrives on developing a deep knowledge of the client, its mission, structure and governance, practices and culture, and expectations of defense counsel. Her success is rooted in her proactive approach and deep commitment to building strong relationships with every member of the defense team, providing regular client communication, and building consensus on the defense strategy.
Daphne received her Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Southwestern Law School, where she was awarded the Outstanding Woman Legal Graduate Award. She has been honored to serve on Southwestern’s Board of Trustees.
Daphne is a Past Executive Committee Member of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the LA County Bar Association, an affiliate member of CALPELRA, and a member of the Association of Workplace Investigators. She is a Past President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, LA Chapter. She has supported her local community as a soccer coach and member of the boards of AYSO - American Youth Soccer Organization and MHS Arts Angels.
Pronouns: he, him, his
Gregory Aker specializes in the litigation and trial of complex business disputes. During his more than thirty years as an attorney, Greg’s litigation practice has included almost every major area of the law.
Greg has represented clients in litigation involving business and commercial contract disputes, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, violation of state and federal securities laws, unfair competition, the protection of trade secrets, secured transactions and commercial law, real estate transactions and land use disputes, evictions and other landlord/tenant disputes, wrongful termination and employment discrimination.
In the area of financial services litigation, Greg has handled cases involving commercial loans, bankruptcy claims, foreclosures, securities processing services, lender liability actions, deposit accounts, checks, wire transfers and other bank operations matters, the interpretation and enforcement of factoring agreements, and intercreditor agreements.
Greg has handled major litigation involving a variety of construction projects nationwide, including courthouses, power plants, condominium developments, and hotels. He has represented construction contractors and project owners, as well as architects and engineers, in litigation, arbitration, and mediation.