Stephanie P. Berntsen


Stephanie Berntsen provides proactive, common-sense legal advice on employment issues for companies operating in the Pacific Northwest.

As service group leader of Schwabe’s Employment and Labor practice group, she works with a wide array of companies, but has particular experience in the timber, agricultural, construction and emerging technology industries. While Stephanie’s goal is always to help prevent or resolve disputes before litigation, she has extensive experience defending companies against claims of discrimination, retaliation and wage issues (including class actions) in administrative and court proceedings. In addition, Stephanie regularly represents companies in non-competition, non-solicitation and trade secret misappropriation disputes.

Stephanie has represented clients in securities-related matters since 2002, primarily broker-dealers involved in employment and customer-related disputes in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration. Appreciating the drivers behind each dispute (from the claimant’s and respondent’s perspectives) and the respective business issues, she is proactive and creative in resolving disputes. 


"I have worked with Stephanie Berntsen for a number of years. She's amazing. Very smart, ‎knowledgeable and responsive.‎"

- Venture General Contracting



  • Regularly advise and defend a timber client in multiple employment-related discrimination issues and disputes.
  • Successfully represented and resolved a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit on behalf of a Fortune 500 shipping company arising from an alleged mental health disability that created unique evidentiary challenges.
  • Successfully defended and resolved a series of customer disputes against a broker-dealer regarding the suitability of Real Estate Investment Trust investments. These matters involved nearly 200 individual claimants.
  • Obtained a temporary restraining order on behalf of a maritime client in a unique employee dishonesty matter.
  • Provide proactive advice and counsel to construction and emerging technology clients on disability, Family and Medical Leave Act, wage classification, independent contractor agreements, retaliation-related issues, hiring, background checks and termination.
  • Represented clients in preliminary injunction hearings arising from the enforcement or defense of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements.
  • Represented financial services firms in enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements in both court and in arbitration.
  • Obtained defense verdict on behalf of a national play structure manufacturer against gender discrimination and retaliation claims arising from a dress code violation.

Memberships & Awards


  • Mentoring Association of Mother Attorneys of Seattle (“MAMA Seattle”), Immediate Past President, Board of Directors (2009-present)
  • Washington Defense Trial Lawyers, Employment Section, Co-Chair (2014-2015)
  • California State Bar, Member
  • Washington State Bar, Member
  • King County Bar Association, Member


  • Washington Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Attorneys (2015-2018)
  • Washington Super Lawyers, Employment & Labor (2014-2022)‎
  • Seattle Met Magazine, Top 50 Women Lawyers, Super Lawyers (December 2015)‎
  • Rising Star (2003-2013)‎

Resources & Ideas

Seminars & Speaking Engagements



  • VIDEO | COVID-19: Employment in the Real Estate and Construction Industry
    VIDEO | COVID-19: Employment in the Real Estate and Construction Industry
    March 13, 2020
  • 2019 Washington State Employment Laws
    2019 Washington State Employment Laws
    January 31, 2019

Community Activities

Community Activities

  • Work Force Development Center, Board of Directors, President and Secretary (2006-2015)




California State Courts

Washington State Courts

United States District Court, Eastern District of Washington

United States District Court, Western District of Washington

United States District Court, Central District of California

United States District Court, Eastern District of California

United States District Court, Northern District of California

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Outside The Office