Web Analytics
About Rich

Experienced labor and employment counsel for high-profile institutions and matters

Rich Paul is a leading labor and employment law strategist who works with national and multinational businesses and organizations to build strong and resilient workforces and management teams, manage business risks associated with employees and students, and address disputes effectively and strategically. An accomplished trial lawyer who has been a fixture among California management employment lawyers for over 40 years, Rich and his team focus on:

  • Employment disputes
  • Discrimination and systemic claims
  • Higher education sector disputes

With judgment and vision honed by decades of experience in courtrooms and at the negotiating table, Rich is a highly skilled problem solver and team leader who assesses an institution’s employment challenges and crafts strategies to align with a client’s long-term business goals. He and his team take on the most serious employment disputes and, with care and hard work, deliver optimal results, leading one commentator to call him the “dean of Southern California employment lawyers.”

Rich was a co-founder of Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP, which combined with Quarles in 2023.

Experience in Action

  • High-level policy architect and advisor to research, technology, education, community impact and other institutions in significant disputes and transactions.
  • Lead trial counsel to employers in litigation involving whistleblowing, harassment, systemic discrimination, retaliation and compensation claims.
  • Lead counsel in labor negotiations and mediation.
  • Counsel to complex organizations in high-stakes disputes, including addressing academic, civil rights and constitutional claims.
  • Independent investigator for c-suite and faculty-level alleged misconduct matters.


  • Lead trial and appellate counsel in university’s successful defense of claimed faculty free speech denial.
  • Lead trial counsel in numerous tenure review and student complaint matters.
  • Lead trial counsel in constitutional and Title VI religious rights claims.
  • Advisor in university campus divestiture and recent systemic gender bias claims.
  • Defense jury verdicts for companies in discrimination cases, for medical schools in defamation and credentialing cases, for universities in sports and other termination cases, and similar matters.
  • Lead negotiator in symphony collective bargaining negotiations with musicians represented by the American Federation of Musicians.
  • Independent mediator in dozens of employment-related matters; extremely high success rate.

Professional Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers in America® (1987-present)
  • Best Lawyers in America® "Lawyer of the Year" (2011: Labor and Employment Law, 2014: Labor Law-Management)
  • San Diego Daily Transcript “Best Employment Lawyers in San Diego”
  • Corporate Counsel Magazine “Best Labor and Employment Counsel in California”
  • San Diego Super Lawyers® (2023, 2024: Labor & Employment)

  • Martindale-Hubbell® "Top Lawyer in the Labor & Employment" (2016, 2017)

Professional & Civic Activities

  • American Inns of Court, master barrister
  • Frequent lecturer on California and national employment law panels
  • Celebrates his 25th year as a professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law, teaching Labor Law and Employment Discrimination. 
    • Also taught courses in Free Speech, Employment Law and Technology, and other subjects at USD and other universities.
    • National Employment Law Institute, faculty 
  • California Employment Law Letters, board member, editorial review board member 
  • San Diego Blood Bank, board chair
  • Valparaiso University, Christ College advisory board, board member
  • National Center for Conflict Resolution, board member
  • San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association, board advisor
  • Author of numerous articles and papers published in law journals and trade publications, as well as author of “126 Things I Never Got Around to Telling You.”
  • National Center for Conflict Resolution, director (2015-present)
  • San Diego Blood Bank, director and board chair (1997-2004)
  • The California Labor Letter, editorial review board
  • Valparaiso University, Honors College, National Advisory Committee (2014-present)
  • National College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, fellow
  • National Employment Law Institute, faculty (2012-present)
  • Labor and Employment Advanced Practices Symposium, faculty (1996-present)
  • William B. Enright Inn of Court, master (2012-present)
  • State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section, member
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, member

  • USD Law School, adjunct professor, Employment Law and Technology (2009, 2012, 2015, 2016)
  • USD Law School, adjunct professor, Employment Law (1996-present)
  • USD Law School, adjunct professor, Labor Law (2015, 2016)
  • Regular participant in the American Employment Law Council and the Management Labor and Employment Roundtable

News & Insights


Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

Back to Main Content

We use cookies to provide you with the best user experience on our website and to analyze statistics related to our website. To understand more about how we use cookies, or for instructions to change your preference and browser settings, please see our Privacy Notice. Please note that if you choose to reject cookies, doing so may impair some of our website's functionality.