Stephanie Berntsen


Every day I ask: “How would I want to be treated?”‎

How I represent clients at Schwabe

Providing proactive, common-sense legal advice on employment issues for companies operating in the Pacific Northwest is my main focus.

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

I have 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, I am 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.


  • University of California, Davis, School of Law, Juris Doctor degree (2000)
  • Colby College, Bachelor of Arts degree (1995)


  • California State Courts
  • Washington State Courts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court - Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court - Western District of ‎Washington


  • 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


  • Selected to the Washington Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Attorneys List (2015-2018)
  • Selected to the Washington Super Lawyers List, Employment & Labor (2014-2023)‎
  • Seattle Met Magazine, Top 50 Women Lawyers, Super Lawyers (December 2015)‎
  • Rising Star (2003-2013)‎

Community Activities

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

Outside Interests

Nordic and alpine skiing, golf, tennis (when it’s not raining), slow jogs, long walks and playing with my children.

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