Joel Christiansen

Joel Christiansen

Attorney at Law

Phone: (503) 841-6722 ext. 2

Hi, I'm Joel Christiansen - an employment attorney and full stack software engineer. I work primarily on a remote basis for clients located worldwide. I have extensive experience in a broad range of employment law matters.

I handle work visas for creatives and artists, employment contracts, and other projects related to legal technology. For example, I recently contracted in a legal technology position developing software prototypes for a venture capital funded, post-accelerator immigration software startup. I also enjoy writing, recording, and performing music.

I've successfully handled many disputed and litigated high-conflict cases (see e.g., Jury Awards $1 Million in Damages in Whistleblower Retaliation Case, The Oregonian, January 19, 2018). I've been trying to spend less of my time and attention on litigation though.

Practice Areas
  • I draft, review, and negotiate employment contracts for businesses and employees. I have significant experience working with contracts involving technology companies, creative agencies, healthcare providers, and executives in a variety of industries.

  • I help employers obtain P, O, H-1B, E, L and I classification nonimmigrant work visas for creatives, artists, musicians, chefs, performers, designers, engineers, journalists, educators, scientists, and other qualifying professionals. I do this work on a worldwide basis.

  • I consult with clients regarding noncompete agreements, non-solicitation agreements, proprietary information agreements, and other competition and trade secret matters.

  • I help businesses and employees develop clear and thoughtful compensation plans. I also occasionally handle legal cases involving disputes over compensation, including commissions, contractual pay, overtime, and minimum wages.

  • I do full stack development in Ruby, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Preprocessors, AWS, APIs, Git, etc. I currently focus my development efforts on my own internal and personal projects, but I am always happy to talk about righteous technology projects.

Professional Background

I've been an attorney for over 11 years, all of which has been devoted to employment-related legal work. I received my J.D. from the California Western School of Law in San Diego, California and my B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I am an active member of the Oregon State Bar. You can read press about a few of my previous litigation cases here, here, and here; some client reviews here and here; and a couple speaking engagements here and here. I have been selected to the "Rising Star" list by Super Lawyers each year since 2014 - a peer-reviewed distinction provided to no more than 2.5% of lawyers.

In addition to law practice. I'm a self-taught software engineer and designer with over 15 years of experience. In 2004, I created an art sales website that attracted over twenty thousand artist users and was eventually integrated into another large art sales website. In 2016, I built a court records automation system and have also built several other legal technology tools. I've worked on open source development projects and other side projects with friends and colleagues. My programming language of choice is Ruby, an open source language focused on simplicity and productivity.

I started my legal career during college as a volunteer paralegal at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Legal Clinic, an attorney-staffed office with volunteer student paralegals. We worked primarily on housing and landlord tenant matters against off-campus landlords. I also worked on family law, consumer, and bankruptcy cases.

I worked as a law clerk at a plaintiff-side class action law firm in San Diego - Nicholas & Butler, LLP. I handled discovery, motion work, and trial preparation in commercial, consumer class action, and employment litigation cases. Our cases included product origin fraud cases against retailers and manufacturers. We brought claims in connection with foreign-made goods marketed as "Made in the U.S.A." and foreign-grown foods marketed as "Grown in California" on behalf of consumer groups. We handled the federal district and appellate circuit court proceedings in the case of AT&T v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011) (Holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state law prohibiting corporations from forcing consumers to waive rights to collective legal action). 

Before going into private practice, I worked briefly as an associate attorney at an employment law firm that ran a back page phone book ad that promised to, "Teach Them What Their Mamas Didn't."


I was born in San Diego, California and grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I took several years of German language classes and participated in a foreign exchange program in Heppenheim, Germany. I also worked for 4 years as a line cook in a restaurant owned and operated by Greek immigrants. In college, I studied abroad in London and took classes in German, Japanese, and software development in addition to my classwork in political science. My senior thesis was on the effects of the EU Common Agriculture Policy in Eastern Europe.

After college, I turned down a couple software job offers, moved into a small apartment near Marine Street Beach in La Jolla, California, and enrolled in law school. After law school, I moved to Portland, Oregon, passed the bar exam, and practiced law there for approximately 10 years. I've practiced in small firm and solo practice settings throughout my career.

In 2018, my partner and I decided to live and work in a smaller community. We moved to the rolling hills and vineyards of Walla Walla, Washington. I return to Portland, Oregon on a regular basis for work and friends. 

I volunteer as a master gardener through the Washington State University Extension program. I travel, read, cook, and spend time in the backcountry. I coached mock trial at Reed College (2015-2017) and Portland State University (2008-2013). In 2015, I volunteered with a humanitarian aid mission in Cambodia.

Mailing Address: 
P.O. Box 4120 #83585, Portland, OR 97208-4120

Office Addresses: 
6 1/2 2nd St., Ste. 200, Walla Walla, WA 99362 
812 NW 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97209