Joel christiansen

Joel Christiansen


Phone: (503) 841-6722 ext. 2


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Hi, I'm Joel Christiansen. I've practiced employment law for 11 years. I advise and represent individual employees and business clients, primarily in the areas of employment contracts and nonimmigrant work visas. In addition to my legal work, I am also a longtime software developer with experience in full stack web engineering and open source software.

My full bio below includes a list of my practice areas, selected recent cases, and links to client reviews and press. I work full time on a remote basis for clients located worldwide as described under each of my practice areas. To reach me, please use or one of the contact forms linked above.

Practice Areas

Employment-related agreements. I help clients negotiate fair and reasonable employment-related legal agreements. I review, draft, edit, and advise clients on employment contracts, noncompetition agreements, nondisclosure agreements, severance agreements, independent contractor agreements, and written policies. Most of my work in this area is on a "behind the scenes" basis. I handle employment agreements on a remote basis in the state of Oregon only.

Nonimmigrant work visas: I assist employers, agents, and visa sponsors with nonimmigrant work visas. I'm particularly interested in O-1 visas (for individuals with extraordinary ability in arts, sciences, business, education, and athletics), P-1B visas (for members of internationally recognized entertainment groups), P-3 visas (for culturally unique artists), and Q visas (for cultural exchange programs and participants). I handle work visa matters on a remote basis for clients in all 50 states.

Litigation and government agency proceedings. I used to litigate many more cases than I do now. I have mostly represented employees but have also successfully defended businesses in several employment-related matters. I have experience in many areas of employment litigation in federal court, state court, arbitration, and government agencies. I am not currently accepting any new litigation or government agency cases.

Professional Background

A list of selected cases I've recently handled is below. Client reviews are available here and here and press from a few litigation cases are here, here, and here. I occasionally speak at bar association events (see e.g., here and here). I have been selected to the "Rising Stars" list by Super Lawyers each year since 2014 - a distinction provided to no more than 2.5% of lawyers.

I received my law degree from the California Western School of Law in San Diego, California in 2008 and my B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2004. I have been an active member of the Oregon State Bar since May 2008.

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 a part-time job as an intake specialist for the Milwaukee County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRS). There I fielded 25-50 calls a day from members of the community seeking legal help and referred to a network of local attorneys, community agencies, government services, etc.

I worked part-time during law school as a law clerk at a plaintiff-side class action law firm. I handled investigations, discovery, motion work, and trial preparation in commercial, consumer class action, and employment litigation cases in state and federal courts and private arbitration. Our cases included product origin fraud cases against retailers and manufacturers. We brought claims in connection with foreign-made goods falsely marketed as "Made in the U.S.A." and foreign-grown foods falsely marketed as "Grown in California" on behalf of consumer groups. We handled the federal trial court and 9th Circuit appellate briefing 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). 

After working for a year as an associate attorney at a Portland plaintiff-side law firm, I hung a shingle and have been self-employed ever since.

In addition to my legal work, I'm also a full stack software developer with over 15 years of experience. I recently contracted for a venture capital funded, post-accelerator startup developing immigration-related software prototypes. In 2016, I built a legal records automation system that used Nokogiri and Watir to scrape and organize millions of Oregon state court records. In 2004, I created an art sales website that attracted tens of thousands of artist users and was eventually integrated into another large art sales website. I originally learned to program in PHP on a Debian linux server but these days Ruby is my language of choice. I'm proficient in most forms of modern web development including back and front-end technologies, MVC frameworks (primarily Rails, Ember, and Vue.js), SQL and NoSQL databases, Git, PaaS, and modern collaboration and project management. 

Selected Cases


Reviewed and negotiated noncompetition agreements for executive employees of several major Portland-area apparel companies.

Reviewed and negotiated physician contracts in a variety of specialties and subspecialties at large health care systems and smaller private practices.

Resolved several executive compensation disputes arising out of employment relationships.

Negotiated employment and independent contractor agreements for tech companies and software developers.


O-1B Visa Approval (Los Angeles, CA)
Secured O-1B artist visa for video graphics engineer in collaboration with business counsel for boutique game development company.

O-1A Visa Approval (Austin, TX)
Obtained O-1A visa for founder of creative agency.

H-1B Visa Approval (Portland, OR)
Successfully satisfied USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE) issued to creative agency in response to petition originally submitted by large law firm.

O-1B Visa Approval (San Francisco, CA)
Secured O-1B artist visa for graphic designer on behalf of technology company.

O-1A Visa Approval (New York, NY)
Secured O-1A scientist visa for oncologist.

P-1B Visa Approval (Multiple Locations)
Secured P-1B and P-1S visas for touring performance groups.

H-1B and O-1 Visa Prototyping
Assisted post-accelerator, venture-funded started startup with development of software prototypes for H-1B and O-1 visas.


Obtained unanimous $1 million federal jury verdict on behalf of a New Jersey-based IT Director against CEO of former employer for retaliatory publications on the internet.

Secured six figure settlement for executive at Chicago-based biotechnology company in breach of contract case.

Represented Tibetan political asylee in claim to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay from employer who housed employees in dormitory-style living arrangements.

Defended California technology company against former employee's Oregon lawsuit for unpaid commission payments. Case dismissed with prejudice without payment to adverse party.

Represented IT Director of a public entity in whistleblower litigation. Case settled in six figures and resulted in client's reinstatement and promotion.

Defended Wyoming bank against wage and hour claims brought by former contractor.

Successfully represented executive public employee in administrative proceedings and appeal to Oregon Court of Appeals in connection with unemployment insurance benefits.

Defended Miami-based software engineering firm against claims from former remote employee.

Represented rural fire chief in whistleblower claim. Obtained cash settlement and reinstatement.

Obtained multiple substantial evidence determinations on behalf of workers through the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).


I was born in San Diego, California and grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During high school, I worked for 3 years as a line cook in a restaurant owned and operated by Greek immigrants. I studied political philosophy in college and also took significant number of foreign language and software engineering courses. I worked in the corporate fraud and loss prevention department of a regional bank serving the Chicagoland and Greater Milwaukee areas.

I worked for a year after college and then moved to La Jolla, CA to attend law school. After law school, I moved to Portland, OR, passed the bar exam, and began practicing law.

After a decade in Portland, I decided to slow life down a little bit and moved out to the lovely town of Walla Walla. I still work full time on a fully remote basis from a small office on Main Street. I enjoy collaborating via phone, email, document collaboration tools, and video chat without traffic, parking, meetings, or managers.

In my free time, I enjoy biking, traveling, reading, cooking, and backpacking. I volunteer as a master gardener at community-based projects through the Washington State University Extension program. I volunteered on a weekly basis for several years as a college mock trial at Reed College (2015-2017) and Portland State University (2008-2013). In 2015, I volunteered with a humanitarian aid mission in Cambodia. 


Phone: (503) 841-6722 ext. 2
Mail: P.O. Box 4120 #83585, Portland, OR 97208-4120
6 1/2 2nd St., Ste. 200, Walla Walla, WA 99362 
812 NW 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97209