Gretchen E. Birkheimer joined Pierce & Shearer’s Palo Alto office in February 2012. Gretchen practices general civil and employment litigation, representing individuals and small businesses in litigation and binding arbitration and before state and local agencies. Her practice emphasizes employment discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims, in addition to often-corresponding claims such as defamation, invasion of privacy, and assault. Gretchen is experienced in contract and employment disputes, construction litigation and environmental and administrative law.
Together with colleague Scott Berman, Gretchen recently successfully tried a sexual harassment and retaliation case to a Santa Clara County jury, winning back pay and emotional distress damages for the plaintiff.
Gretchen has helped numerous clients to successfully appeal denials of unemployment benefits. She regularly appears before the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Gretchen has successfully defended clients in binding arbitration before the San Francisco Rent Board and the Contractors’ State License Board, and in private arbitration.
Gretchen graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of California at Irvine, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her law degree at the University of California at Berkeley: Boalt Hall School of Law, where she served as Associate Editor on the Ecology Law Quarterly and as a member of the Moot Court Board and Boalt Hall Women’s Association.
Gretchen is an active member of the Palo Alto Area Bar Association, where she is a member of the Board of Directors and co-chairs the Women Lawyers Committee. Gretchen was elected President of the Palo Alto Area Bar Association for the 2017-2018 term.
Gretchen has delivered continuing legal education presentations on "Incorporating Work-Life Balance Into Law Firm Management" (PAABA, 2016) and on "Intellectual Property Issues in Employment Law" (PAABA, 2017).
University of California, Berkeley
2002 Juris Doctor
University of California at Irvine
1999 Bachelor of Arts
Magna cum Laude
Admissions & Organizations
Admitted to practice in California
Admitted to the United States District Court for the Eastern, Northern
and Central Districts of California and the Ninth Circuit US Court of
President of the Palo Alto Area Bar Association
Women Lawyers Section Co-Chair
Member of the National Association of Women Lawyers
Member of San Mateo County Bar Association
Employment Law Section
Women Lawyers Section
Law Offices of Stephen Volker (2002-2004)
Morgan, Franich, Fredkin & Marsh (2004-2011)