Joseph Clapp, (SBN 99194) Of Counsel
Education and Background
As a young man, I worked during the summers in Yosemite National Park while I attended college. Living in Yosemite was great, but working there was not. Yosemite was, in essence, a company town. One company employed everyone and the same company housed everyone. If a certain manager did not like you, he had the power to fire you, evict you from your house, and kick you out of your entire community.
I saw, close up, that that kind of power corrupts. I saw managers who exercised their powers carelessly, and worse, I saw managers who exercised their powers viciously – sometimes against my best friends. I wondered whether there was something I could do about this, and so I began talking to my friends about organizing a union.
After a couple of years of hard work, my friends and I were able to wage a campaign that won an election to certify the 1500 employees of Yosemite into a union. And after another year of work, we were able to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that instituted basic protections for the employees against unfair treatment by the company and its managers.
This experience led me to conclude that, as John Lennon put it, “A working class hero is something to be.” I decided to dedicate my life to fighting for those who must work for a living. I figured that the best way to do this was to become a lawyer, so after graduating from U.C. Berkeley, I enrolled in law school at the McGeorge School of Law, U.O.P. While there, I learned a lot about persuasive writing when I served as the comments editor of the law journal.
After graduating from law school and getting my license in 1981, I began my career with the trial firm of Herron & Herron, and I continued practicing with that firm, happily, for decades. During that time, I litigated all aspects of the employment relationship. My cases included wrongful or discriminatory discharges, the failure to pay wages due (e.g., overtime, prevailing wages), substandard working conditions (e.g., meal and rest periods), and the failure to pay earned pensions (ERISA). I have litigated scores, if not hundreds, of individual cases, and I have litigated numerous class actions as the lead class counsel. As a result, I am comfortable litigating in arbitrations, state trial courts, state appellate courts, federal trial courts, and federal appellate courts. I have tried numerous cases to jury verdict, and I have prosecuted or defended numerous appeals. See, e.g., George v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1475 (public employee’s retaliation lawsuit survives claim and issue preclusion defenses) and Walker v. Berkeley Housing Authority, 951 F.2d 182 (9th Cir. 1991) (biased decision-maker violates public employee’s Due Process rights).
I have won many, many cases, but I have also lost cases that will leave me scarred for life. As a result, I choose my cases very carefully. In 2012, I was fortunate to meet Randall, and Reed, and Hallie, who are all kindred spirits, and they offered to employ me as “of counsel” to their law firm. This opportunity has afforded me the luxury of being able to represent those, and only those, whose causes I believe in and whose characters I admire. I feel honored to represent these clients as zealously as I possibly can.