Joseph Liburt


Silicon Valley

During the past three decades, Joe has built a reputation as a top employment litigator by approaching each case with a fresh perspective and relentlessly seeking to unravel the plaintiff’s case.

Clients turn to Joe again and again as a creative problem solver and trusted advisor in helping them achieve their goals quickly and efficiently.

For example, in a wage class action for Sears, Joe quarterbacked an unusual strategy to dismiss the case. The team discovered that the plaintiff had filed for bankruptcy, and filed a motion to dismiss because the plaintiff no longer owned the lawsuit, the bankruptcy trustee did. But the plaintiff argued he might re-acquire the lawsuit in bankruptcy court, and the district court allowed him to try. In the bankruptcy court, Joe had Sears buy the lawsuit (an asset of the plaintiff’s bankruptcy estate) for a nominal amount, and then returned to the district court where Sears, now the owner of the class action against itself, dismissed the case with prejudice.

In Pao v. Kleiner Perkins, the high-stakes gender discrimination and retaliation case that garnered intense national scrutiny, Joe led the trial team's work on jury instructions and expert witnesses.

Joe is praised by clients, co-counsel and colleagues for his collaborative approach and ability to bring out the best work from the team.

  • In addition to earning his J.D. from Berkeley School of Law, and B.A. from Haverford College, Joe completed a two-year course at Deep Springs College, which is built upon the pillars of academics, self-government and manual labor. The latter reflects the college’s unique position as a working cattle and alfalfa ranch. During this time, Joe developed glorious forearms from milking cows by hand every morning and afternoon, a deep appreciation for a livelihood gained through hard work, and the virtue of persistence in the face of adversity.
  • Areas of Focus

    Class Actions. Joe has extensive class action expertise representing employers in retail, technology and manufacturing including Sears, International Paper, Juniper Networks and Home Depot. He repeatedly defeated class certification in wage-and-hour class actions for Sears. And he  persuaded two federal courts to reject the California Supreme Court's Iskanian decision and compel individual arbitration of representative PAGA claims.

    Individual Claims. Joe has successfully defended employers such as Microsoft, Twitter, Genentech, and NVIDIA in high-visibility matters, frequently obtaining summary judgment or substantial summary adjudication.

    ERISA & Benefits Litigation. Joe has litigated various ERISA and state law benefits claims for plans and sponsors including Oracle, Robert Half International, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the University of California. Joe has special expertise in pension benefit and change-in-control severance claims, including defending Oracle in numerous ERISA arbitrations regarding change-in-control severance plans in which employees sought change-in-control benefits after Oracle acquired Siebel Systems.

    Representative engagements

    Fortune 10 Technology Company. Joe has represented this employer for 20+ years and successfully defended various single-plaintiff and class action cases.

    University of California. Joe represented the Regents of the University of California in a pension benefit class action and obtained summary adjudication on all class claims, then won at trial on the remaining individual claims.

    Genentech. Joe represented Genentech in the trial of Cefalu v. Genentech, which resulted in a jury verdict in Genentech's favor on all claims, including disability discrimination, reasonable accommodation, interactive process, CFRA retaliation, and bonus wages.

    L.L. Nunn Trust/Deep Springs College. Joe represented the dissenting Trustees of Deep Springs College seeking to protect the donor’s intent set forth in the charitable trust that governs the College.