Experienced appellate advocate and litigator
Jeff Michalowski, a certified appellate specialist, is an experienced advocate 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. He also handles high stakes trial court litigation in civil rights and constitutional cases. Jeff’s areas of focus include:
- Appellate practice
- Constitutional law
- Higher education
- Employment disputes
Clients come to Jeff with their most unique and challenging cases and appeals, and rely on his strategic vision and his distinctive writing to help achieve their goals.
Jeff is national vice-chair of the firm’s Appellate Group. He teaches civil rights law, has authored several chapters of the leading treatise on California employment law and serves on the editorial board of a forthcoming book on California employment litigation.
Experience in Action
- Serving as lead appellate counsel in writs and appeals in the Ninth Circuit and California Courts of Appeal, and handling matters in the U.S. Supreme Court and California Supreme Court.
- Substantive experience with separation of church and state, LGBTQIA+ advocacy, freedom of speech, contract disputes, torts and injuries, attorney fee awards, employment law and the full run of section 1983 cases against public entities.
- Litigating employment disputes, with particular expertise in discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing and disability discrimination.
- A public entity, facing one of the largest civil rights verdicts in U.S. history (nearly $100 million), engaged Jeff to lead post-trial motions and successfully obtained a new damages trial.
- Represented a public entity in the Ninth Circuit and U.S. 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 dismissal on the pleadings on behalf of school district in response to impact litigation alleging that renaming school to remove name of Catholic saint violated Establishment Clause.
- Obtained complete defense verdict for Fortune 50 company in federal jury trial alleging disability discrimination.
- 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.
- Best Lawyers in America® (2024: Appellate Practice)
Professional & Civic Activities
- 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
- 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.
News & Insights
- News Release
- 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)
- California State Courts
- U.S. District Court, All Districts of California
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit