Katharine Chao

Katharine Chao is of counsel to Olivier & Schreiber LLP.

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Kathy represents employees in individual litigation, negotiations, and class actions in both state and federal courts. Her practice focuses on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage-and-hour, compensation and whistleblowing matters.

Kathy also represents executives and start-up employees in employment contract and equity compensation matters.

Kathy was a founding member of Olivier Schreiber & Chao which launched in 2018.  She is now of counsel to Olivier & Schreiber LLP. Prior to founding the firm, Kathy was the principal at Chao Legal in San Francisco and Oakland, where she practiced employment law exclusively on behalf of employees since 2012. Before starting her own firm, Kathy practiced as a defense attorney in the San Francisco offices of Paul Hastings LLP and Nossaman LLP. As a defense attorney, Kathy worked on complex commercial litigation, consumer class action defense, and civil and criminal antitrust matters.

Kathy is an active member of the legal community. She is the Board President of Open Door Legal, a San Francisco-based legal aid non-profit organization. Open Door Legal is pioneering the country’s first system of universal access to legal representation as a method for dramatically reducing poverty. She is an active member of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), where she serves on the Wage and Hour Committee. Kathy also has a significant pro bono practice, including ongoing participation as a volunteer attorney with the Federal Pro Bono Project of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

  • University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 2006
  • University of California, Berkeley, 1994 B.A. in Sociology
Awards & Honors
  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers 2021
  • All state courts in California
  • US District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Central Districts of California
Selected Publications & Speaking
  • Guest panelist at the 33rd Annual California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) Conference, October 07, 2020.
  • Speaker at the Alameda County Bar Association Employment Law Symposium. Ms. Chao will present, with co-panelists Mariko Yoshihara and Sarju Naran, on legal issues arising in the workplace as a result of Covid-19, September 23, 2020.
  • Speaker at the California Employment Lawyers’ Association (“CELA”) Webinar on COVID-19 and Workers’ Rights, April 20, 2020.
  • Speaker at the Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“APABA”) Silicon Valley event on starting your own small firm/solo practice, October 18, 2018.
  • Presentor on employment litigation fundamentals at the annual Basics Conference sponsored by Continuing Education of the Bar, September 14, 2018.
  • Moderator, “Recent Developments in Employment Law,” California Employment Lawyers Association, Advanced Wage and Hour Seminar, May 2018
  • Invited Panelist, “How Social Media Impacts the Workplace from an EEO Perspective,” American Bar Association National Conference on Equal Employment Opportunity, Coronado, California, April 2018
  • Invited Panelist, “Workplace Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era,” California Continuing Education of the Bar, February 2018
  • Moderator, “Recent Changes to the Federal Rules and the Impact on Class Actions,” 2016 Class Action Symposium, Federal Bar Association, Northern District of California Chapter, December 2016
  • Invited Panelist, “The Law and Economics of Employee Non-Compete Agreements”, American Bar Association, Antitrust Section, June 2016

While in law school, Kathy was the Senior Articles Editor for the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law and externed for the Hon. Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. After law school, Kathy clerked for the Hon. Jeffrey T. Miller of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Among the honors she has received, Kathy has been selected as a Northern California Super Lawyer for plaintiff-side employment litigation every year since 2018. She was also named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” in 2015 and 2016. She is a frequent speaker on employment litigation on panels and conferences throughout California.

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