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.

Successes

  • 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 recent university campus divestiture and recent systemic gender bias claims.
  • Defense jury verdicts for companies in discrimination cases, for medical schools in defamation and credentialling 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 (AFM).
  • Independent mediator in dozens of employment-related matters; extremely high success rate.

Professional Recognitions

  • Named in The Best Lawyers in America® (1987-present)
  • “Best Lawyers in San Diego,” San Diego Magazine
  • “Best Employment Lawyers in San Diego,” San Diego Daily Transcript
  • “San Diego Super Lawyers,” New York Times
  • “Best Labor and Employment Counsel in California,” Corporate Counsel Magazine
  • “Southern California Super Lawyers,” L.A. Time
  • Regular participant in the American Employment Law Council and the Management Labor and Employment Roundtable
  • Selected as 2014 “Lawyer of the Year” for Labor Law - Management in the San Diego area by Best Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” in Labor and Employment Law (2011) 
  • Ranked by Martindale-Hubbell as a Top Lawyer in the Labor & Employment Category as published in San Diego Magazine (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.
    • Served on the faculty of the National Employment Law Institute. 
  • Editorial Review Board for the California Employment Law Letters, board member
  • San Diego Blood Bank, chair of the board
  • Christ College Advisory Board for Valparaiso University, 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 chairman of the board (1997-2004)
  • The California Labor Letter, editorial review board
  • Honors College, Valparaiso University, National Advisory Committee (2014-present)
  • National College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, fellow
  • University of San Diego School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Law (1996-present)
  • 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

Speaking Engagements

Professional

  • The Crystal Ball, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, 2017-2020
  • Privacy and Information Security Issues for HR Managers, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2016
  • Complex Retaliation and Whistleblower Issues, NELI, San Francisco, 2016
  • A Deep Dive Into California’s New Fair Pay Act – Key Issues, What to Expect, How to Prepare, Association of Corporate Counsel, March 2016
  • Panelist, San Diego Employers Association, Employment Law Update, 1984-2016
  • Presenter, National Association of Women Judges, 2014
  • Featured Speaker, National Employment Law Institute, San Francisco, Vail, Washington, D.C., San Diego, 2013-2016
  • Presenter, National Association of College and University Attorneys, NACUA Annual Conferences, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Washington D.C.,  2008-2013
  • Presenter, American Council on Education Panel & Policy Forums—Prefer No Tenure … Really, 2012
  • Featured speaker, Labor and Employment Advanced Practices Symposium, San Diego, Scottsdale, Napa, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, 1997-2016
  • Web 2.0, ABA, San Francisco, 2010; Los Angeles, 2008
  • Presenter, California Department of Transportation statewide meeting, 2014
  • Presenter, California Association of County Counsel, 2014

Academic

  • Faculty, National Employment Law Institute, 2013
  • Adjunct Professor, Employment Law and Technology, USD Law School, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016
  • Adjunct Professor, Employment Law, USD Law School, 1996-present
  • Adjunct Professor, Labor Law, USD Law School, 2015, 2016
  • Guest Lecturer, First Amendment and Employment, USD Law School, passim
  • Lecturer, Healthcare Fraud and Abuse, California Western School of Law, 2008-2015
  • Panelist, Women and the Law, Ginzburg Lectures, Thomas Jefferson School of Law., 2006
  • Lecturer, Nonprofit Management, USD Graduation School of Education, 2004-2006
  • Lecturer, U.C. San Diego, various programs, 1993-present

News & Insights

  • "Navigating the Complexities of Whistleblowing and Retaliation"
    NELI
  • "Healthcare Human Resources Law"
    UCSD
  • "San Diego Employers Association"
    Employment Law Annual Update
  • "Employment Law and Technology"
    U.S.D. Law School

Education

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

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