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.”