When clients call us, we respond within an hour. You don’t find us writing long memos or detailed opinion letters. You pick up the phone, and we give you an answer. Period. Our advice is strategic and practical. The phrase it depends is not in our vocabulary. We focus on problem-solving. Our goal is to help our clients create great places to work and minimize HR disputes.

Steve is a founding partner and co-managing partner of Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP, based in San Francisco. He is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Employment Law Alliance, the world’s largest provider of employment law solutions.

“I have specialized in employment law for my entire career,” Steve says. “It’s an area I was interested in even before law school. Dealing with the human dynamic and how it impacts the workplace has always been a point of great fascination for me. I particularly love working with employers who share those values and management practices commonly associated with German-based “Mittelstand” companies: Razor-thin focus, emotional attachment between management and its workforce, innovativeness, obsession with customer service, nimble and flexible management style, and importance placed on social responsibility. What I like most about my work is to help my clients create the best possible places to work and solve their organizational problems when they arise. HR issues are often quirky and sometimes intense, which means when my clients call, they are often feeling great stress. My objective is to provide sage wisdom, sound advice and practical solutions delivered with a smile. I find that a little levity goes a long way.

“I was born an entrepreneur. It’s been my passion since childhood. I love to create things, build things and run things, often in an unconventional fashion. That mindset propelled me to help found HK and to dream up and implement my strategy to create a truly global and seamless provider of employment law services via the Employment Law Alliance.”

Steve’s practice involves labor, employment, and higher education law on behalf of management in both the private and public sectors. He advises clients throughout the country on day-to-day legal issues affecting the workplace, including employee discipline and terminations, union organizing, workforce reductions and reorganizations harassment, discrimination and bullying claims, proprietary information and trade secrets disputes, substance abuse, workplace privacy, disability accommodations, employment contracts, faculty tenure, and other human resources issues. He has also overseen and conducted hundreds of misconduct investigations involving allegations of harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, retaliation, ethics violations, misappropriation of trade secrets, and theft.

“One of my passions is helping companies prevent, investigate and resolve employee misconduct: harassment, bullying, discrimination, retaliation, ethical violations, theft, and other acts of dishonesty.” Steve says. “When I’m retained to serve as a neutral investigator looking into allegations of serious misconduct, it’s normally for a very high-profile matter. I pride myself on being discreet and even-handed and developing rapport with all interested parties. And I never shy away from making tough but necessary decisions.”

Steve regularly defends employers in state and federal courts and administrative agencies on disputes involving discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, trade secrets/unfair competition, wage and hour law, and union-related matters. He has vast experience providing assistance to unionized employers on matters including collective bargaining, strikes and picketing, contract interpretation disputes, and labor arbitrations. He has tried to verdict over 100 cases before courts, arbitrators, administrative law judges, and government agencies with a win rate of over 90%. He successfully argued a seminal wage and hour issue before the California Supreme Court.

“We are not ‘scorched-earth’ litigators,” Steve says. “Rather, we are thoughtfully aggressive. We don’t drive the litigation: our clients’ desired outcome drives the litigation. That’s not just my personality: it’s the personality of the firm. The vast majority of our employment cases, 95%, never get tried. And for that other five percent, we have a great track record. Clients hire me when they really care whether they win or not. It’s because I actually take it personally. I have longstanding relationships with my clients. I know these people and their operations; I care about their enterprise.”

Steve has experience working with boards of directors to improve their effectiveness and communications. His clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small, privately-owned businesses. He loves to travel, and he regularly assists multinational clients by conducting worldwide employment law audits to ensure they are in full compliance with all applicable employment and labor laws.

“Now that companies operate virtually everywhere, often with employees working out of their homes, employment law is complicated in ways it never used to be.” Steve says. “Outsourcing also brings up issues that never used to exist. My colleagues and I are experts on these issues. Because of my extensive travel, I offer a unique perspective on how cultural issues impact HR matters. Understanding how to legally terminate or layoff an employee in some far-flung location is one thing; knowing how the local culture and mores impact those decisions is something quite different.”

Steve represents a wide range of clients, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. He takes a pro-active approach when advising clients, emphasizing create solutions to employee relations problems. Steve routinely counsels and trains management about ways to prevent costly and protracted litigation. He regularly conducts and oversees multi-state and multi-national legal compliance audits.

Steve is consistently ranked as a leading employment lawyer by numerous publications, including Chambers, Lawdragon, and BTI. According to Chambers: “He is everything you would hope and expect of an experienced attorney in employment-related matters.”

“We take our jobs seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously,” he says. “And we love what we do. We all have unique backgrounds, outside interests, and personalities, and I am convinced this diversity is part of our secret sauce.”

In addition to work-related travel, Steve enjoys “adventure travel” — going off the beaten track and encountering interesting people and exploring fascinating places. He is passionate about food and wine (he reports that while his self-made cabernet isn’t yet on the French Laundry’s wine list, it is nevertheless “darn tasty vino”). A major train buff, he has ridden on the Orient Express, the Trans-Siberian, the Trans-Canadian Railways, the Ghan, the Hiram Bingham, and the Andean Explorer. He looks forward to upcoming train trips on the Kyushu Seven Stars and the Shiki-Shima.

Named to Best Lawyers in America® for Employment Law-Management and for Litigation/Labor & Employment, 2016-2024

Named by Best Lawyers® as Lawyer of the Year, Employment Law – San Francisco, 2020

Recognized by Chambers and Partners USA for the last 15 consecutive years (2010-2024). According to clients interviewed by Chambers, he is “He’s a great speaker and a very no-nonsense communicator. He is a very good business person and a skilled lawyer who understands our business… he is very responsive, very sharp, gives good advice and makes himself available anytime that we need.”

Named to Lawdragon’s 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers, 2012-2024

Profiled by Lawdragon, “Lawyer Limelight: Stephen Hirschfeld,” September 23, 2018

National Law Journal, Elite Boutique Trailblazer Award, 2018

Named by HR Executive/Lawdragon as one of America’s 100 most powerful employment lawyers for the last nine consecutive years

Recognized by BTI Consulting Group on its “Client Service All-Stars 2017” list.  Steve is one of only five California employment lawyers and one of only 28 employment lawyers in the country to be recognized “by clients for client service excellence.”

Since 2008, Steve has been a Fellow the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Nomination to the College is by one’s colleagues only, and recognizes those lawyers who have demonstrated sustained and exceptional services to their clients, bar, bench, and public, and the highest level of character, integrity, professional expertise, and leadership. Election as a Fellow of the College is regarded by many as the highest honor in the legal profession for lawyers practicing labor and employment law.

Named by Who’s Who Legal – U.S. and International Management Labor and Employment Law and The Expert Guide as one of the world’s leading lawyers in labor and employment law

Listed as a Northern California Super Lawyer 2007-2024

Named by the San Francisco and Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the “California Lawyers Companies Turn to First”

Listed by AsiaLaw as one of America’s leading Asia-Pacific focused employment lawyers

Winner of the National Association of College and University Attorneys’ Distinguished Service Award, that organization’s highest award, which was established to recognize individuals who have given extraordinary service to higher education

“AV” rated by Martindale Hubbell

American Bar Association

InterPacific Bar Association

International Bar Association

Bar Association of San Francisco, Labor & Employment Law Section

Fellow, College of Labor & Employment Lawyers

National Association of College and University Attorneys

Society for Human Resource Management

XBHR, A Global Think Tank for Cross-Border HR Experts

Moderator, “Workforce Reductions: How to Implement a Layoff Effectively and Legally,” Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Webinar, March 1, 2023

Panelist, USMCA: New Challenges and Risks Facing U.S. and Canadian Businesses with Mexican Operations, Employment Law Alliance webinar, November 30, 2022

Moderator, numerous Employment Law Alliance “Employment Matters” podcasts, 2020 – present

Moderator, “Your 2022 California Employment Law Update & Survival Guide,” Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Webinar, February 14, 2022

Co-presenter, PASCO Annual Conference: HR Legal Update, Santa Rosa, California, January 13, 2022

Moderator, “U.S. Employment Law Year In Review,” Employment Law Alliance Global Webinar Series, January 13, 2022

Steve Hirschfeld Interviewed on KRON4-TV About Reopening Issues, KRON4-TV, June 14, 2021

Steve Hirschfeld Talks to CNN About Cal/OSHA Interim Mask Rules, CNN International, June 7, 2021 Moderator,

Union Activity in the Tech Sector, Employment Law Alliance webinar, April 1, 2021

Returning to Work: Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines and the Legal Implications of Mandating Vaccinations, Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP/USI webinar, March 30, 2021

PASCO Spring 2021 Employment Law Update, webinar, March 24, 2021 Moderator,

COVID-19 in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know, Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP webinar, February 18, 2021

Evolving Legal and Practical Considerations in the Response to Workplace Violence,” HR West Conference, Oakland, March 12, 2019

ELA Nairobi Conference

“Non Disclosure Agreements,” Silicon Beach Conference

“Breaking Bad: How to Address Faculty Misconduct,” Labor & Employment Law Update 2016

“Union Organizing in 2016: Be Prepared!”

Webinar: “A Year in Review: Key U.S. Labor and Employment Law Developments in 2015 and What to Expect in 2016”

Webinar: Establishing an International Campus or Program in the UAE and Qatar: Corporate, Regulatory, Immigration, and Labour Law Considerations

Steve Hirschfeld and Amy Durgan Speak to the Santa Clara County Employer Advisory Council on “Reimagining Your Employee Handbook: Has the Time Finally Come?”

Webinar – “The BYOD Workplace and the 24/7 Employee”

“Workplace Woes: Addressing Bullying and Violence” at NACUA’s 2014 April CLE Workshop

Webinar: “The Biggest Signs Union Activity is Afoot: What Should You Do About It?”

“Hiring to Firing – Managing Risk Beginning to End”

“Employee Monitoring and Surveillance Across Borders” at the XBHR Annual Conference

Webinar – “Hot Topics for Employers in the Oil and Gas Industry: A Global Perspective”

“Can Anyone Ever Be Fired Anymore?: The Current State of Wrongful Termination,” sponsored by World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards

ABA Webinar, “Preparing for Grievance Arbitration”

“EEO Roundup: Setting the New Standard” at the NCHRA 2014 Legal & Legislative Conference

California and Nevada: Labor and Employment Law Roundup Webinar – A Year in Review: Key U.S. Labor and Employment Law Developments in 2013 and What to Expect in 2014

Speaker, Association of Caribbean Corporate Counsel Summit Luncheon

Webinar – “Redundancies in Asia and the Pacific: Key Issues for Employers The Use (and Abuse) of the Independent Contractor”

“How to Effectively Investigate Allegations of Serious Acts of Misconduct” at the Southern California Wine Country SHRM Meeting

PASCO 30th Annual Labor Law Conference

“Harassment in the Workplace – Bullying – The Latest Legal Updates” at the Kern County SHRM Symposium

“Minimizing Legal Risks When Managing Your Employees” at the Marin Employer Advisory Council Meeting

“Conducting Effective (and Legal) Workplace Investigations” sponsored by the Northern California HR Association

“Corporate Social Responsibility” at the ACC EU Annual Conference in Barcelona

“Minimizing Legal Risks When Managing Your Employees”

“Speaking with the Enemy: Peer into the Mind of a Plaintiff’s Lawyer” at HR West 2013

“Hottest Topics in Discrimination and Harassment” at the PASCO Labor Law Conference Employer Advisory Council Presentation

Employer Advisory Council Presentation “Employment Law Update”

Employer Advisory Council Presentation “The Hottest Topics in Employment Law – What Every HR Professional Needs to Know”

PASCO’s 29th Annual Employment Law & Human Resources Conference, “The Latest Trends in Employment Law”

“The Latest Labor and Employment Law Issues Affecting the Wine Industry,” Delaware Bench & Bar Conference

“Privacy in the Workplace: Reasonable and Unreasonable Expectations” Ethics and Compliance Programs for Colleges and Universities

Top Ten Things a Business Officer Needs to Know

Managing the Hiring Process

Ensuring Global Employment Law Compliance in International Operations

ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, 2010 Spring Conference

Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities: The Most Important Things College Presidents Need to Know

NACUA’s March 2010 CLE Workshop on Higher Education Employment Law: Changing Campuses, Continuing Challenges

Employees Behaving Badly

Non-Competes Continue to Get ‘No Love’ in CaliforniaThe California Workplace Advisor (Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Blog), December 13, 2023

Amazon Union Strikes Out: Is Your Company On Deck?The California Workplace Advisor (Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Blog), April 9, 2021

University Graduate Student TAs Get the Green Light to Unionize“, The California Workplace Advisor (Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Blog), March 12, 2021

Steve Hirschfeld Interviewed on KRON-4 TV About COVID and the Workplace, July 30, 2020

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in Forbes Article on Uber and Teamsters Union in Seattle

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in Law360 Article on Legal Community’s Reaction to the Election of Donald Trump

Steve Hirschfeld Speaks to Law360 on Lyft Settlement With Drivers

Steve Hirschfeld and Dan Handman Quoted in San Francisco Business Times Regarding Uber Settlement

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in Los Angeles Times on Uber Settlement

HK’s Steve Hirschfeld Offers Takeaways From U.C. Berkeley Sexual Harassment Scandal for Employers in San Francisco Business Times

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted on California High Court Ruling on California’s Worker Seating Requirement

ELA CEO and HK Co-Managing Partner Steve Hirschfeld Quoted on QSR Magazine Regarding McDonald’s Joint Employer NLRB Hearing

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in San Francisco Business Times Article on Recent Uber Ruling

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in The Recorder Regarding the San Francisco Uber Case

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in Article in The Recorder on A Bump in Business for the Winning Kleiner Attorneys

Employment Law Alliance Report Clears Higher Ed Official of Wrongdoing

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in Seattle Times Articles on Uber Drivers Unionizing

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in the Los Angeles Times on the Issue of Contractors Becoming Employees at Start-Ups

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in PBS Article on Workplace Harassment and Assault Prevention

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in the Society for Human Resource Management’s Article on the Use of the Term “Digital Natives” in Job Postings

Steve Hirschfeld Quoted in San Francisco Chronicle Article on Uber Decision by Labor Commission

HK’s Steve Hirschfeld Joins Other Attorneys In Giving His Reaction to the Supreme Court Abercrombie Ruling in LAW360

Steve Hirschfeld and Christine Helwick Quoted in Corporate Counsel Article Regarding In-House Counsels at Colleges and Universities

Steve Hirschfeld Tells the Daily Journal That Law Firms Must “Couple Global Resources With Local Access to Excel”

Steve Hirschfeld Provides Perspective on Judge’s Rejection of Proposed Settlement in Silicon Valley “No-Poaching” Case in San Jose Mercury News

Why the World Cup Gives Employers Headaches

Human Resource Executive Features Steve Hirschfeld Discussing Workplace Accommodations Steve Hirschfeld Pens “Global Employee Handbooks Must Balance Compliance with Culture” for The Society For Human Resource Management

Steve Hirschfeld Authors “Global Employee Handbooks Must Balance Compliance with Culture” for WorldLink Magazine

Steve Hirschfeld Addresses the Challenges Facing Multinational Companies When Developing a Global Employee Handbook

Steve Hirschfeld Offers Perspective on Apple-Intel-Google Anti-raiding Suit Being Certified as a Class Action

Your Business: Modern Clients Drive Structural Change by Stephen Hirschfeld

Law360 Article “5 Best Practices For Firing Bad Employees” Quotes Stephen Hirschfeld

Hirschfeld Comments on California Appellate Decision on Pregnancy Discrimination for Law360

Keeping Facebook Private

A Harsh Verdict on Penn State’s GC Outlined in Freeh Report

Can Employers Demand to See Employees’ and Applicants’ Facebook Pages?

At the Crossroads: International Programs, Laws, and Cultural Expectations

Company Bullies May Get Their Due in Court With New Laws

Employment Defense: California Lawyers Companies Turn to First

All Together Now: The Challenge of Managing a Global Workforce

Doing Business in the Muslim World – Practical Issues for Employers and Employees

Workplace Bullying: The Next Legal Frontier?

Office Romance: Are the rules changing?

Policymakers, Take Note: The Force is with the Workplace Bloggers

Stopping Sexual Harassment: An Employer’s Guide To Doing Business in the Muslim World

A Global Perspective on Investigating Employee Misconduct

Conducting An Effective Internal Investigation


J.D., George Washington University Law School, 1982

B.A., St. Lawrence University, 1979, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa




U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th and D.C. Circuits

U.S. District Court, Northern and Central Districts of California

U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri

U.S. Supreme Court





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