Laura  Salerno Owens

Laura Salerno Owens

Shareholder, Firm President

Laura is a trial lawyer and a skilled advocate. She has successfully represented employers and employees in hundreds of disputes, ranging from single-person contract disputes to multi-thousand person class actions. Top crisis communications expert Shannon Berg says about Laura "If you are in the fight of your life, you want Laura in your corner."

Laura is currently focused on assisting her clients during the COVID-19 crisis. Laura advises employers on navigating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, managing workforce layoffs, furloughs, and sick leave, and keeping employees safe in the workplace. She represents clients in a variety of employment law issues including trade secrets, wage and hour disputes, discrimination charges, sexual harassment allegations, whistleblower claims, and noncompetition/nonsolicitation agreements. She also has a broad range of experience litigating claims in state and federal court arising under the Equal Pay Act, Family Medical Leave Act, the Oregon Family Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as representing clients before the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Laura is equally adept at advocating for her clients in the courtroom and advising them in the boardroom. She brings a trial lawyer’s perspective to employment disputes, which enables her to quickly get to the heart of legal issues and develop a strategy to solve often-complex problems.  A natural “people person,” Laura communicates effectively with business owners, opposing counsel, and judges. One of her clients recently said "Laura provided good counsel in the negotiation of a complicated retirement agreement.  Her assistance was done in a timely manner, on budget, with outstanding client service. Her advocacy led to a successful outcome for my case."  Another business owner Laura represented in enforcing a noncompetition agreement commented, "We got a speedy resolution that met our objectives. I am so impressed with the help she provided." Laura is also an ardent advocate. As one client put it "When life throws you a curveball, grab a bat and swing! Thanks, Laura for being our bat."  

Laura has significant experience in state and federal courts, mediations, and arbitrations. She has first-chair jury trial experience, has taken and defended numerous depositions, and has argued key pretrial and dispositive motions. 

Laura has given more than 100 presentations and continuing education courses on various topics, including general employment law, anti-discrimination and harassment, social media in the workplace, and pay equity. She has served as the keynote speaker at large conferences such as Oregon Health & Science University’s Women in Academic Medicine and she presents to various business groups ranging from Disrupt HR, Rotary, and others. She has also presented numerous times on COVID-19 related issues such as reopening the workplace, social distancing policies, safety in the workplace, and remote working policies.

Laura was recently recognized by the Oregon Commission for Women as a 2021 Women of Achievement honoree. Additionally, she is recognized by Best Lawyers in America, named a Super Lawyer by Oregon Super Lawyers, honored by the University of Oregon School of Law as an Outstanding Young Alumnus in 2016, selected by the Portland Business Journal as a “Forty Under 40” honoree in 2018, and honored as a Woman of Influence by the Portland Business Journal. In 2019, Portland Business Journal's parent company, the Business Journals, recognized Laura as one of the top 100 Legal Influencers in the U.S.

Representative Litigation

  • Lead plaintiffs' counsel in equal pay and gender discrimination class action against Nike, Inc. 
  • Lead defense trial lawyer in wage and hour case tried to a jury
  • Lead counsel on corporate espionage case, successfully obtaining injunctive relief to protect client’s trade secrets and enforce terms of nonsolicitation agreements
  • Represented numerous executives in negotiating severance packages or terms of employment agreements
  • Represented executives in challenging terms of their former employer’s noncompetition/ nonsolicitation agreements
  • Represented numerous companies in enforcing terms of their noncompetition/nonsolicitation agreements
  • Appointed by federal Judge Anna Brown to represent the jury in the high-profile litigation, United States v. Bundy, when, following the October 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trial, a group of media moved the Court to learn the identities of the jurors
  • Filed and defended numerous agency complaints filed with the Bureau of Labor and Industries
  • Represented several clients in judicial and private mediations and arbitrations
  • Defended national agribusiness and food producer in two Oregon class actions brought by workers alleging violations of wage and hour laws related to donning and doffing protective equipment
  • Defended national debt collection agency in defense of wage and hour class action
  • Conducted interviews of numerous putative class members in connection with defense of state agency in multiple class-action suits brought by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging overtime violations

Awards and Honors

  • Recognized, Oregon Women of Achievement, Oregon Commission for Women, 2021
  • Recognized, Top 100 Legal Influencers in the U.S., The Business Journals, 2019
  • Women of Influence Honoree, Portland Business Journal, 2019
  • Forty Under 40 Honoree, Portland Business Journal, 2018
  • Recognition, Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2021
  • Best Lawyer, Best Lawyers in America, 2017 – present
  • Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, University of Oregon School of Law, 2016
  • Super Lawyer, Oregon Super Lawyers magazine, 2019 – 2020; Rising Star, Oregon Super Lawyers magazine, 2012 – 2018
  • Member Services Award, Oregon State Bar New Lawyers Division, 2013
  • Up & Coming Lawyer Honoree, Daily Journal of Commerce, 2012
  • Volunteer of the Year Award, Oregon State Bar New Lawyers Division, 2012
  • National Service to the Bar Award, American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, 2012

In the News

COVID-19 Resources

Watch Laura's December 16, 2019, DisruptHR presentation: Disrupt Inequity: Equal Pay in 2019

  • President, Federal Bar Association, 2016 – 2017, Executive Committee, 2014 – present; Treasurer, 2013 – 2014; Membership Co-Chair, 2012 – 2013; Younger Lawyers Division Co-Chair, 2010 – 2012; Board of Directors, 2009 – 2010
  • Chair, Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representatives, 2012 – 2014; Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative, District of Oregon, 2011 – 2017
  • Member, Attorney Admissions Fund Committee, U.S. District Court, Oregon, 2016 – present
  • Executive Committee, Owen M. Panner Inn of Court, 2012 – present; Member, 2008 – present
  • Chair, Oregon Women Lawyers Rainmaking Dinner Committee, 2014 – 2015
  • Member, Rose Haven Board of Directors, 2016 – 2019
  • Coach, Jefferson High School Mock Trial Team, 2008 – present
  • Mentor, University of Oregon School of Law, 2016 – 2017
  • Advisory Committee, Campaign for Equal Justice, 2017 – present; Co-Chair, Large Firm Associates Committee, 2011 – 2014; Member, 2007 – 2014
  • Member, Race for Justice Steering Committee, St. Andrew Legal Clinic, 2008 – 2013

  • Oregon
  • U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
  • University of Oregon School of Law — J.D.; Finalist in the Western Regional Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition
  • University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) — B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

1455 SW Broadway, Suite 1900
Portland, OR 97201 - 503-295-3085

© 2021 Markowitz Herbold PC - All Rights Reserved | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | SightWorks DigitalXE