Joel Christiansen

Joel Christiansen


If it has to do with the laws that apply to work and workplaces, I probably have hands-on 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 have been in private practice for just over a decade, during which I have worked on all kinds of employment cases. My work is largely transactional (e.g., reviewing and writing contracts, strategic consulting, and negotiating). However, I also handle a limited number of litigated and government agency cases.
I have represented and consulted with clients ranging from sub-minimum wage workers to highly compensated executives and professionals. In recent years, I have enjoyed representing an increasing number of small businesses, especially in proactive and preventative employment law work.

Early in my career, I worked as an associate attorney at a high volume plaintiff-side employment law firm. During law school, I worked at a complex litigation firm called Nicholas & Butler LLP. There I worked on several consumer and employment class action cases. Most of my work involved discovery and motion work in product origin fraud cases (e.g., foreign-made consumer products sold as “Made in the U.S.A.”). I also assisted with work in a case that eventually went before the United States Supreme Court, ending with a heavy blow to consumer rights in a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia. See, AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (upholding class action waiver contained in cell phone carrier forced arbitration clause). 

Before law school, I was a legal call center staffer and, later, the director at the Milwaukee Bar Association‘s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), which 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 large law firm life was not for me.

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. I went to law school at the California Western School of Law in San Diego, CA. 

I grew up in West Bend, Wisconsin. My dad was a draftsman from Oyster Bay, NY and my mom teaches in my hometown school district. During high school, I worked at a Greek diner. 

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). The John Day is my favorite Oregon river. I have been a volunteer mock trial coach at Reed College for past 3 years and before that I coached mock trial at Portland State University for 4 years.