Joel Christiansen

Joel Christiansen



Hi, I'm Joel Christiansen. I represent employees who need advice and representation in work-related legal matters. I also represent some small employers, usually ones facing unfounded employment claims that are looking for alternatives to large law firm representation. I keep my practice at a low volume so I can give sufficient time and attention to my clients. Accordingly, most of my work consists of either: (a) limited scope project work and consultations, or (b) substantial litigation matters. I accept cases all over Oregon and I especially love traveling to work in the rural and frontier areas of our state where access to legal specialists is limited.

Areas of Expertise

If it has to do with the laws that apply to work and workplaces, I probably have some experience with it. My main practice areas include: (1) employment contracts, (2) employee wage issues, (3) wrongful termination disputes, (4) whistleblowing matters, (5) leave and disability law, (6) competitive restrictions (e.g., noncompetes, NDAs, trade secrets, etc.), and (7) employee safety.

I keep cases out of court as much as possible. In a perfect world, every case would be resolved reasonably and amicably and my clients would never need to resort to formal litigation. However, when the need arises, I do not hesitate to litigate or arbitrate cases. I have handled several litigated cases recently. My employee clients range from executives, physicians, professors, lawyers, and scientists to firefighters, farmers, teachers, nurses, and restaurant workers. I have also represented small businesses all over the state. The best part of my job is meeting and working with really interesting and smart people from all walks of life.

Legal Experience

I have been in private practice for just under ten years. I've worked independently and with partners, colleagues, and friends. I respect and rely upon my clients' expertise and experience in their fields because in most cases they will know more about the intricacies of their work than I ever will. I've never been a big law firm guy and I enjoy being able to assemble teams on a case-by-case basis.

Earlier in my career, I learned some valuable lessons working as an associate attorney at a high volume plaintiff-side employment law firm. During law school, I was a law clerk at a class action firm called Nicholas & Butler that handled the trial court and 9th Circuit appellate litigation in a case that became known as AT&T v. Concepcion. I worked on product origin fraud cases (e.g., foreign-made consumer products sold as “Made in the U.S.A.”). One of our most interesting cases involved a class action lawsuit against a large manufacturer that was selling Chinese-made power tools in boxes with a graphic of a bald eagle holding an American flag with "Made in the U.S.A." prominently displayed below the flag. After significant litigation, the case settled for several million dollars. 

Before law school, I was a staffer and later Director of the Milwaukee Bar Association‘s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS). That job taught me the importance of access to the justice system. I also worked very briefly as a conflicts of interest analyst at Foley & Lardner, LLP where I learned that I had no interest in working in a large law firm.

Growing Up

I grew up in West Bend, Wisconsin - a small, working class town. You may have heard of the West Bend Company, which manufactured popcorn makers, can openers, and other small appliances until they moved overseas. My dad was a draftsman raised on Long Island, NY and my mom is a teacher in the school district where I received my K-12 education. I worked from age 14 through 18 as a bus boy, dishwasher, and line cook at a Greek diner. 

I went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I graduated cum laude with a degree in political science. During college, I volunteered as a paralegal at the UW-Milwaukee University Legal Clinic. After a short-lived grad school stint, I moved to California for law school at California Western School of Law. I lived in North County San Diego, worked as a law clerk, and surfed a lot.

Outside the Office

Outside the office, my hobbies include the backcountry, cooking, gardening with my partner Sarah and our dogs Milo (Shepherd mix) and Gus (Malamute/Collie mix). I am also a hobbyist computer programmer (Ruby, Python, and JavaScript). I avoid golf courses, networking events, and wearing a suit when I’m not in court. The John Day is my favorite Oregon river. I am a volunteer mock trial coach at Reed College.