Steve Atkinson is a founding partner with a diverse clientele in litigation, labor, and employment law matters. He focuses on representing employers in collective bargaining negotiations, union organizing campaigns, unfair labor practice complaints and other proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board. He also handles arbitrations pursuant to collective bargaining agreements.
Atkinson has long been recognized as one of the foremost employment lawyers in the country. He has defended employers for more than 40 years in all aspects of labor relations. He practices before all federal and state courts, including the United States Supreme Court, and administrative agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Atkinson was an Army brat who was raised in the South and served a tour of duty as a first lieutenant in the Army. Out of the military, Atkinson worked as a field attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, where he was successful in all 11 of his trials. Atkinson left government service in 1976 and began representing employers with labor and employment law issues.
In 1977, just five years out of law school, Atkinson became a principal in the law firm of Merrill & Atkinson, which was at the forefront of aggressive representation of employers in labor relations matters in Southern California.
In 1979, Atkinson started his own firm, which transitioned into the extraordinarily successful AALRR that today employs over 180 lawyers.
On a personal note, Atkinson enjoys hiking trips around the world and is an avid reader and fisherman. In 2011, Atkinson caught a Coho (“Silver”) salmon weighing 26 pounds, 11 ounces. The fish is a certified Alaska record and perhaps the largest Coho ever caught in salt water.
Honors & Recognitions
Since 2004, Los Angeles magazine has recognized Mr. Atkinson as a “Super Lawyer,” one of the top 5% percent of Southern California lawyers.
Mr. Atkinson has handled hundreds of union negotiations, strikes, pickets, and lock-outs. Additional representative matters include:
- Represented a Fortune 500 company in a race discrimination jury trial in Oakland, California, which lasted over two months. Mock juries for the case all returned verdicts in excess of $30 million. The jury was out for eight days and returned a finding of no punitive damages.
- Represented the largest Chinese language newspaper in the United States in a model organizing campaign which lasted over five years. Persuaded the NLRB to invalidate the first election, which was won by the union. The company won the second election.
- Represented a major residential construction company and its owner in a lawsuit against a large insurance company. The insurance company alleged the owner was personally liable for fraud and owed $28 million in damages. Atkinson was brought into the case after the judge indicated in a preliminary ruling that it was highly likely the insurance company would prevail on its fraud claims. The jury returned a verdict of no fraud and no personal liability.
- Represented a large industrial contractor in a major targeted organizing campaign conducted by the Los Angeles County Building Construction Trades Council. The Trades were unsuccessful in organizing the contractor.
News & Publications
- Super Lawyers, 02.13.2012
- Southern California Super Lawyers, 02.01.2011
- The California Lawyer, 08.11.2009
Events & Speaking Engagements
- Sheraton Cerritos Hotel, 05.14.2020
Alerts & Articles
- Owners Begin to Screen Construction Workers for COVID-19 Symptoms Possibly Leading to Labor Shortages03.19.2020
Mr. Atkinson frequently writes and speaks on employment and labor relations. Mr. Atkinson is quoted as an expert in labor relations matters in Business Week, the Los Angeles Times, Bureau of National Affairs and Cockshaw's Construction Labor News and Report.
- Construction Company Liable for $76 Million for Fraudulently Creating Alter Ego Companies to Avoid Its Collective Bargaining AgreementsLabor Relations Law Blog, 10.06.2017
Community & Professional
- Orange County Bar Association, Member
- Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member