Joel Christiansen

Joel Christiansen

Attorney at Law

Phone: (503) 841-6722 ext. 2


To contact me about a new matter, please schedule a call here: Availability / Online Scheulding >

Hi, I'm Joel Christiansen. I'm an employment attorney and full stack software engineer. I work on employment law and legal technology matters on a remote basis for clients located worldwide.

I currently handle (1) employment-related nonimmigrant work visas, (2) reviewing, negotiating, and drafting employment contracts, and (3) projects related to legal technology. 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). However, these days I've been trying to spend less of my time and attention on litigation in favor of other causes I find rewarding.

Practice Areas

I do the following work:
  • I help with nonimmigrant work visas in the following classifications: O-1A and O-1B (extraordinary abilities in art, science, education, business, and motion pictures); P-1B and P-3 (members of internationally recognized entertainment groups and culturally unique artists); and Q (cultural exchange programs and participants). I do this work remotely worldwide.

  • 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 do this work in the state of Oregon only.

  • I occasionally do contract work for legal technology companies, specifically those that subscribe to the Rails Doctrine. I do this work remotely worldwide.

Professional Background

I have been an attorney for over 11 years. During all but one of these years, I have been self-employed in private practice. This experience is an asset to my clients because it has taught me the importance of providing value first. 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.

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 have successfully represented individual and business clients in all kinds of employment law matters. To quote a trial lawyer I respect, "[s]ome firms will post on their website a prize list of their top dollar cases to convince you to hire them. We do not do this for a very simple reason: every case is different." That said, you can read press coverage from a few of my previous employment litigation cases here, here, and here; some client reviews here and here; and a couple speaking engagements here and here.

I recently contracted in a legal technology position developing software prototypes for a venture capital funded, post-accelerator immigration software startup. I'm a self-taught software engineer and developer 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 legal records automation system and have built several other legal technology tools. I've worked on open source development projects and other side projects with friends and colleagues. I learned to program in PHP but my programming language of choice is Ruby, an open source language focused on simplicity and productivity. I'm proficient in most forms of modern web development including MVC frameworks, back and front-end development in Rails and Vue.js, SQL and NoSQL databases, Git/Github, cloud application platforms, and modern project management practices.

I started my professional 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 had a part-time job as an intake specialist for the Milwaukee County Lawyer Referral and Immigration Service (LRIS). 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 took a year off between college and law school and continued working for the LRIS.

During law school, 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 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). 

My first and only associate attorney position was for one year at a downtown Portland employment law firm that ran a back page phone book ad promising to "Teach Them What Their Mamas Didn't."


I was born in San Diego, California and grew up around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I took several years of German language classes and participated in a foreign exchange program in Heppenheim, Germany. During high school, I worked for 3 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 major 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, enrolled in law school, and moved into a small apartment near Marine Street Beach in La Jolla, California. After law school, I moved to Portland, Oregon, passed the bar exam, and practiced law there for approximately 10 years.

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 enjoy road and gravel cycling and single track mountain biking. I also travel, read, cook, and backpack. I coached 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. 

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