Joel Christiansen

Joel Christiansen


Hi, I'm Joel Christiansen. I handle legal matters related to employment and work. I have been doing this work for my entire career. I represent mostly employees and a few small businesses. I work on cases throughout Oregon.

Most employment law cases I handle are transactional matters - e.g., contract negotiations, reviewing legal documents, and negotiating deals. I also handle a limited number of litigated and arbitrated matters including wage and hour, breach of contract, and civil rights cases. 

In addition to routine employment law cases, I also have experience in other more serious and complex cases. For example, I was sole litigation and trial counsel in a 2018 Federal Court jury trial involving the online harassment of a former employee. The case resulted in a $1 million unanimous jury verdict (100% emotional distress damages) for my client.

I accept cases when I think I can make a difference. In practice, this means I take on cases that involve either: (1) efficient fee-based advice and consulting work for high-level professionals; or (2) contingent fee advocacy in cases involving compelling facts, righteous causes, clients and colleagues with whom I enjoy collaborating. I also prioritize accepting only an amount of work that I can handle diligently and personally.

Practice Areas

Substantive Practice Areas: I have knowledge and experience in Oregon and federal cases related to: (1) employment contracts, (2) wages and work hours, (3) employment-related competitive activities, (4) discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, (5) private and public whistleblowing, (6) family and medical leave, (7) disabilities in the workplace, (8) injured workers' rights, (9) workplace safety, and (10) human resources policies and practices.

Recent Work: My recent clients have included executives, physicians, salary and hourly employees at all levels of companies, and some (usually small and private) corporations. I have also represented sub-minimum wage employees as well as crime and abuse victims in contingent fee cases. I have recently handled cases in the technology, healthcare, apparel, hospitality, professional services, and manufacturing industries.

Negotiation and Dispute Resolution: I actively seek to help employees and employers resolve workplace-related legal issues. I try to stay out of court as much as possible. My preference in every case is to find a reasonable and efficient outcome.

Litigation: When cases cannot be resolved or when litigation is otherwise required, I help my clients pursue their legal rights in court. I have experience handling cases in litigation, arbitration, administrative proceedings, and at trial.

Counseling and Education: I believe that a lawyer's most powerful tools are access, empowerment, and education. I work hard to make the law work better for my clients.

Recent Court Cases

Case No. 17CV34870 (Multnomah County, 2017); Case No. 17CV31433 (Deschutes County, 2017); Case No. 17CV24594 (Clackamas County, 2017); Case No. 16CV34289 (Coos County, 2016); Case No. 16CV32891 (Marion County, 2016); Case No. 16CV32169 (Multnomah County, 2016); Case No. 16CV09400 (Multnomah County, 2016); Case No. 3:2016cv00079 (U.S. District Court, Portland, 2016); Case No. 16CV03762 (Multnomah County, 2016); Case No. 15CV33508 (Deschutes County, 2015); Case No. 15CV13826 (Multnomah County, 2015); Case No. CV06002 (Multnomah County, 2015); Case No. CV15020042 (Clackamas County, 2015); Case No. 3:2015cv02401 (U.S. District Court, Portland, 2015); Case No. 2:2015cv01964 (U.S. District Court, Pendleton, 2015)

In addition to my litigation work, I have advised and represented hundreds of claimants regarding unemployment benefit appeals before the Oregon Office of Administrative (OAH) Hearings and Employment Appeal Board (EAB). In 2016, I presented on "Introduction to Unemployment" at the Multnomah Bar Association's Employment Law Series.


I started working in the legal industry in 2002 as a volunteer paralegal at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Legal Clinic, an attorney-staffed office with volunteer student paralegals. We worked primarily on housing and landlord tenant matters against off-campus landlords. I also worked on family law, consumer, and bankruptcy cases. I actively participated in college mock trial and competed nationally in undergraduate trial practice competitions through the American Mock Trial Association. While studying abroad at University College London (UCL), I worked as a research assistant to a law professor at the UCL Faculty of Laws conducting legal research related to expansion of the European Union.

Later in college, I worked as a call center staffer at the Milwaukee Bar Association's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS). My job was to handle a high volume of incoming calls from the general public and provide referrals to lawyers and community/government resources. After graduating college, I was promoted to LRIS Director and worked in that job until attending law school.

In law school, I worked part-time as a law clerk at a plaintiff-side class action law firm in San Diego - Nicholas & Butler, LLP. There I worked on discovery, motion work, and trial preparation in commercial and employment litigation cases. Our cases included class action product origin fraud cases against retailers and manufacturers We brought claims in connection with foreign-made goods marketed as "Made in the U.S.A." and foreign-grown foods marketed as "Grown in California" on behalf of consumer groups. We handled the federal district and appellate circuit court proceedings in the case of AT&T v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011) (Holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state law prohibiting corporations from forcing consumers to waive rights to collective legal action). 

Before going into private practice, I worked briefly as an associate attorney at a Portland-based plaintiff-side employment law firm. I've also done contract work for several firms and project-based consulting work for private companies.

In addition to my legal work, I am a self-taught software engineer. I prefer to program in the Ruby and JavaScript programming languages but am functional in most relevant languages and full-stack web environments. 

I was born in San Diego and raised in West Bend, Wisconsin. My mom is a teacher and my dad was a technical draftsman.


College Mock Trial Coach. Reed College (2015-2017), Portland State University (2008-2012).

Humanitarian Volunteering. Cambodia, 2016 (Pnom Penh, Battambang, rural areas) - accompanied medical relief team to provide education and outreach to Cambodian factory and farm workers.


I am currently a member of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA). I have previously served on education committees for OTLA, the Multnomah Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. I have spoken at continuing legal education events for legal professional and community groups. 

I have been listed by Super Lawyers magazine as a "Rising Star" every year since 2014.


B.A., cum laude, Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2004)

J.D., California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA (2008)

Master Gardener in training, WSU Extension - Washington State University (2019)

Good Quote

"[T]he man who wishes to rise by wrongdoing others must by right be contrasted, not with the man who likewise wishes to do wrong, though to a different set of people, but with the man who wishes to do justice to all people and to wrong none." Theodore Roosevelt, Labor Day Speech, Syracuse, NY, September 7, 1903.