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Today’s special report marks The Recorder‘s second survey of top attorneys in the Bay Area. In November, we presented a few top attorneys in 10 practice areas, including bankruptcy, admiralty, securities litigation and family law, among others. This year we are taking a different approach. Each quarter we will shine a spotlight on a dozen or more of the top attorneys in a single practice area. Today we are looking at employment law. To determine the names, The Recorder interviewed some 25 attorneys, mediators and corporate clients — most of whom are exceptionally knowledgeable about employment litigation. We asked them, quite simply, who stood out from the pack. (For the purpose of this survey, to maintain an apples-to-apples comparison, we did not inquire about labor lawyers who focus primarily on collective bargaining and NLRB issues.) We considered any employment lawyer based in the Bay Area — which created a challenge inasmuch as employment law in San Francisco-Oakland is a different animal from employment law in Silicon Valley-San Jose. Most of the attorneys featured on the following pages have made names for themselves in both markets. One other bit of feedback is worth noting. Almost to a person, the attorneys and jurists interviewed for this article remarked on the collegial nature of the Bay Area’s employment bar. Plaintiffs and defense lawyers alike expressed admiration and even affection for the people they do battle with in court or across a conference table — at least, the people mentioned on these pages. Cliff Palefsky, who along with Mark Rudy received the most votes for top plaintiff employment attorney, analogizes to the stereotype of physicians’ social skills. “There are surgeons and there are pediatricians,” he says. In the Bay Area, “commercial litigators are surgeons. Employment lawyers are pediatricians.” Palefsky also notes that with the cost of trying cases approaching as much as $500,000, there’s a lot of incentive for lawyers to get along with each other and find a middle ground. Most of the people interviewed for this report said the atmosphere is different in Southern California, where bravado and hardball permeate the employment bar. One plaintiffs lawyer recalls enduring a 15-day deposition there, even with a referee present. “It’s a much more contentious relationship” in Southern California, says a defense lawyer. Plaintiff and defense lawyers alike say that the boom in employment litigation over the past quarter-century has had benefits for California. Both sides say that big employers have heard the message and have developed a more professional approach to human resources, which has been good for business and for workers. Of course, plaintiffs lawyers say there are still some abuses, and defense lawyers say there are still litigation excesses. We hope you’ll enjoy our look at top employment attorneys. Later this year we plan similar features on real estate lawyers, insurance attorneys and life sciences counsel. If there’s anyone in those practice areas you would like to nominate for consideration, it’s never too early. Feel free to e-mail me suggestions, or any feedback you have on today’s special report. My e-mail is [email protected] Scott Graham Editor in Chief

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