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About Jeff

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 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.


 Appellate Matters

  • 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 U.S. News & World Report.

Professional Recognitions

  • 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


  • California State University, San Marcos, instructor, Workplace Law (2014-present)
  • California State University, San Marcos, instructor, Managing within the Law (2015-present)
  • University of San Diego, guest lecture, “Employment Law and Technology” (2018)
  • UCSD Extension, instructor, Employment Law for Managers (2017)

Pro bono

  • 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.
  • Obtained relief from the Ninth Circuit for a political refugee seeking asylum in the U.S.

News & Insights


Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

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