Therese M. Lawless

Therese M. Lawless

San Francisco, California
Therese Lawless is a partner in the law firm of Lawless & Lawless where she practices employment and civil rights law on behalf of employees and individuals. Ms. Lawless is a former president of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association. She is a member and past board member of the Consumer Attorneys of California and is a member of the National Employment Lawyers' Association and the California Employment Lawyers' Association.

Ms. Lawless has practiced employment and civil rights law exclusively on behalf of employees and individuals since 1988. She has litigated hundreds of employment and civil rights cases and has achieved substantial verdicts and settlements on behalf of her clients. In 2015, Ms. Lawless represented Ellen Pao in a landmark gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins Caufield and Byers. This case brought to light the many issues and obstacles faced by women in the venture capital and tech industries. Ms. Lawless frequently lectures and speaks on employment and civil rights matters and has written numerous articles for professional publications.

Ms. Lawless earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1982. In 1986, she graduated Order of the Coif from George Washington University where she was an editor on the law review. Ms. Lawless clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson from 1986 to 1987. She then briefly worked for a large Boston law firm, Gaston& Snow, before deciding to join her partner and sister, Barbara Lawless, in San Francisco.

In 2000, Ms. Lawless was awarded the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association. She was a top ten finalist for the California Consumer Attorney of the Year Award in 2002.

Ms. Lawless has been repeatedly named one of the top plaintiff employment lawyers in San Francisco by The Recorder legal newspaper.  She has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer annually since 2004 and Ms. Lawless has been named one of the top 50 Northern California female attorneys on several occasions, most recently in 2015.  In 2007, The American Association of Justice (AAJ) awarded Lawless & Lawless the Distinguished Law Firm Award.  Lawless & Lawless has been named one of the top ten plaintiff employment law firms in San Francisco.

Areas of Practice

  • Wrongful Termination Law
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Sexual Harassment

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1987
  • Massachusetts, 1987


  • George Washington University National Law Center, Washington, District of Columbia
    • J.D. - 1986
    • Honors: Order of the Coif
    • Law Review: George Washington Law Review, Notes Editor, 1985 - 1986
  • Cornell University
    • B.S. - 1982


  • The Fierce Urgency of Now: Eliminating Implicit Bias in the Legal Industry, Bar Association of San Francisco, Yosemite Conference, January 2016
  • Gender Equality in Venture Capital and Technology, Silicon Vikings, Palo Alto, CA, January 2016
  • Pathways to Leadership: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities, Institutional Opportunities: Workplace Policies, Federal Bar Association, San Diego, CA, Women in Law Conference 2015, October 2015
  • Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Other Claims, The Basics Conference: Employment Law, Continuing Education of the Bar, Monterey, CA, September 2015
  • Openings/Closings by the Masters, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, May 2013
  • Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession, San Mateo County Bar Association’s Funky Credit Day, Burlingame, CA, January 2013
  • Top Ten Things in Depositions and Mediations, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, January 2013
  • Protecting Clients' Privacy and Privilege Rights, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, November 2012
  • How New Developments Are Shaping Employment Law, Commonwealth Club Roundtable, September 2012
  • Gender Discrimination in the Workplace, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, August 2012
  • Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession, San Mateo County Bar Association’s Funky Credit Day, Burlingame, CA, January 2011
  • The Essential Trial Toolbox, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, June 8, 2010
  • Managing Your Client's Expectations, National Employment Lawyers Association Convention. Rancho Mirage, CA, June 2009
  • Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation and Employment Litigation: Plaintiff and Defense Perspective, Fundamentals of Employment Law Practice, Continuing Education of the Bar, California, November 2008
  • Common Evidence Issues: How to Impress the Judge, Jury and Scare the Hell Out of Your Opponent. The 5 Issues of Evidence We Love or Hate the Most, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, March 2008
  • Work Place Investigations: What Every Employer and Employee Should Know (And Do), Annual Meeting of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California, Claremont Resort & Spa, Berkeley, California, October 18, 2007 - October 20, 2007
  • Masters Seminar: How to Succeed in San Mateo County Despite Conservative Juries, Consumer Attorneys of California College of Trial Arts and San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association, Burlingame, CA, September 2007
  • Depositions: A Key Discovery Tool, California Employment Lawyers Association. San Francisco, CA Seminar, July 27, 2007
  • Engaging in the Resolution Discussion, Seminar Web Live! Consumer Attorneys of California, May 22, 2007
  • Closing Arguments by the Masters, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, June 13, 2006

Honors and Awards

  • San Francisco Trial Lawyer of the Year, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, 2000
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, 2004-Present
  • Named Top 50 Northern California Female Attorneys for several years, most recently in 2015
  • Distinguished Law Firm Award, Women Trial Lawyers Caucus of the AAJ
  • Top 10 Plaintiff Employment Law Firm in San Francisco, The Recorder legal newspaper

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Massachusetts Bar Association, Member
  • State Bar of California, Member
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, Board, 1999 - Present
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, President, 2004
  • Consumer Attorneys of California, Board, 1997
  • Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, Member
  • The Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Member
  • National Employment Lawyers Association, Member
  • California Employment Lawyers Association, Member

Past Employment Positions

  • Honorable Warren J. Ferguson, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Clerk, 1986 - 1987
  • Gaston & Snow, Associate, 1987 - 1988