Experienced appellate advocate and employment litigator
Jeff Michalowski is an experienced appellate advocate and trial lawyer who helps Fortune 500 businesses, universities and public entities navigate legal challenges at all levels of the state and federal judiciary. He has authored over 50 briefs and argued over a dozen cases in the courts of appeal. With deep roots in employment law, class actions and civil rights — he authored multiple chapters of the leading treatise on California employment law and teaches civil rights law – he has tried cases to defense verdicts in both state and federal courts. Jeff focuses on:
- Appellate practice
- Constitutional law
- Higher education
- Employment disputes
Clients come to Jeff with their most unique and challenging cases and appeals, and they rely on his strategic vision and his distinctive writing to help achieve their goals.
Experience in Action
- Advising on a range of appellate matters involving employment law, freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, contract disputes, torts and injuries, attorney fee awards and the full run of section 1983 cases against public entities.
- Serving as lead appellate counsel in writs and appeals in the Ninth Circuit and California Courts of Appeal, and handling matters in the California Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court.
- Advising employers on employment disputes, with particular expertise in wage and hour class actions and retaliation, whistleblowing and disability discrimination.
- A public entity, facing one of the largest civil rights verdicts in U.S. history, engaged Jeff to lead post-trial motions and successfully obtained a new damages trial.
- Represented a public entity in the Ninth Circuit and United States Supreme Court in free exercise challenge to public health restrictions on churches.
- Represented banking client in California Supreme Court appeal regarding statute of limitations for wage-hour penalties.
- Represented public health officer in appeal challenging public health restrictions on restaurants and adult entertainment, and obtained favorable published opinion.
Trial Court Matters
- Obtained complete defense verdict in the first case tried nationally of a fraud claim against a law school based on allegations of misrepresenting post-graduate employment data following a three-week jury trial.
- Won denial of class certification for several law schools, in which plaintiffs alleged violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law based on allegedly misleading employment and salary statistics reported in S. News & World Report.
- Obtained order striking class allegations at the pleading stage for a law school.
- Obtained dismissal without leave to amend at the pleading stage for a law school with similar employment statistics cases.
- Defended transportation client in meal period class actions involving over 30,000 employees, and waiting-time penalty class actions involving over 20,000 employees.
Professional & Civic Activities
- National Employment Law Institute, faculty member
- Active member of the legal community, serving as an appointed member of the San Diego County Bar Association’s Legal Ethics Committee, and serving on the executive committee of the San Diego County Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section.
- San Diego County Bar Association, Appellate Practice Section, executive committee
- Harvard Law School Association of San Diego, executive committee
- San Diego County Bar Association, Legal Ethics Committee, appointed member
- Lawyer’s Club — Amicus Committee, member
- State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section, member
- San Diego County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, member
- San Diego Appellate Inn of Court, member
- Instructor, Workplace Law, California State University, San Marcos (2014 -present)
- Instructor, Managing within the Law, California State University, San Marcos (2015 - present)
- Guest Lecture, University of San Diego, “Employment Law and Technology” (2018)
- Instructor, UCSD Extension, Employment Law for Managers (2017)
- Brought a petition for writ of mandate on behalf of two public benefits recipients, and obtained a settlement resulting in modification of a public benefits Ordinance, and payment of back benefits to over a thousand individuals.
- Previously, he obtained relief from the Ninth Circuit for a political refugee seeking asylum in the United States.
- Veracity: Our Duty of Candor to Courts, San Diego Federal Bar Association, January 2022
- When Public Health and Freedom of Expression Collide, San Diego County Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, October 2021
- A Changing Circuit in Changing Times: A Conversation with Judge John B. Owens and Kathleen Sullivan, Harvard Law School Association of San Diego, January 2021 (moderator)
- An Attorney’s Oath and Duty to the Constitution, San Diego Federal Bar Association, January 2021
- Appellate Counsel at Trial, Litigation Section of Office of County Counsel, August 2020
- Dealing With Loss: Petitions for Certiorari and Petitions for Review, Appellate Inn of Court, August 2019 (panelist)
- The New Rules of Professional Conduct, Harvard Law School Association of San Diego (2018)
- The Culture Wars, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2017
- An Ounce of Prevention: Fair Pay and Wage-Hour Time Bombs, and How to Prevent Them, PPSC Briefing, September 2017
- Retaliation and Whistleblowing, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2015
- Complex Retaliation and Whistleblower Issues, National Employment Law Institute, July 2016
- Severance Agreements Under Fire, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2015
- Do You Know Who Your Employees Are?, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, November 2014
- New California Employment Laws, San Diego Employer’s Association, February 2014
- Employment Law Update 2014, San Diego County Bar Association, January 2014
- Wage and Hour Trends, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2013
News & Insights
- Article"California Employment Law, Matthew Bender (Chapter 2 – Applicability of Rules Governing Hours Worked (Co-Author)"Chapter 3 – Determining Hours and Proper Payment Amounts
- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016Article"Complex Whistleblowing and Retaliation Issues, National Employment Law Institute"(Co-Author) Whistleblowing, Retaliation, and Pervasive Harassment, National Employment Law Institute, 2013 (Co-Author)
- News Release
- Article"Navigating the Ethical Landmines of Handling Your Own Appeal, San Diego County Bar Association"San Diego County Bar Association - For the Record
- Article"The Duty of Candor on Appeal"San Diego County Bar Association - Ethics in Brief
- Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude, 2006)
- University of Virginia (B.A., with high distinction, 2001)
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. District Court, All Districts of California
- California State Courts
- U.S. Supreme Court