Jennifer A. Kearns is a business and employment law attorney with thirty years of experience in advising and defending the interests of business owners. Ms. Kearns advises employers in all aspects of employment law, including but not limited to classification of workers, leave of absence obligations, disability accommodation, prevention of unlawful harassment and discrimination, use of independent contractors, and best practices for protection of intellectual property, trade secrets and other confidential information. In providing counseling and advice, Ms. Kearns works with companies in the development of personnel policies, practices and handbooks, offers guidance in connection with individual employee terminations as well as mass layoffs, counsels employers in connection with their management of employee leaves of absence, and assist employers in recognizing disability accommodation situations and managing reasonable accommodations. Ms. Kearns is a skilled investigator and has assisted clients by conducting investigations or in guiding client personnel in the conduct of employment-related investigations.

In addition to her role as a valued advisor to her clients, Ms. Kearns is also an experienced trial lawyer. Ms. Kearns has defended employers in numerous employment cases that proceeded to jury verdict, and has litigated many more over the course of her career. Ms. Kearns has defended companies and their management in cases alleging wage and hour violations (including class actions and representative PAGA actions), sexual, racial, religious, gender and disability harassment and discrimination, “whistleblower” wrongful termination and retaliation.  While Ms. Kearns is a skilled and tenacious advocate, she has also successfully settled numerous cases. Ms. Kearns has also handled numerous employment arbitration cases to conclusion.

Ms. Kearns works closely with members of the Firm’s Intellectual Property practice group and is a member of the Firm’s interdisciplinary Life Sciences Group. Ms. Kearns has developed a special focus on the protection of trade secret and other confidential information. She has expertise in the area of restrictive covenants, including non-compete agreements and non-solicit agreements throughout the United States. Ms. Kearns’ work in this area includes advising clients on best practices, advising clients when hiring talent from a competitor or when terminating employees who are leaving to join competitors, identification and implementation of best practices to employ when theft of trade secrets is suspected or anticipated and preservation of electronic evidence. Ms. Kearns has successfully negotiated modifications to non-compete and non-solicit agreements and when litigating disputes involving trade secrets, has successfully obtained injunctive relief and has successfully defended against the imposition of injunctive relief.

Ms. Kearns’ expertise in the area of restrictive covenants is relied upon by individual executive clients who seek her assistance in negotiating their executive employment agreements, as well as by companies who are seeking to enforce restrictive covenants or who require an assessment of restrictive covenant obligations as part of due diligence when acquiring or selling companies.

Ms. Kearns’ undergraduate education was largely based in the life sciences, and in the early years of her career, Ms. Kearns defended pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in product liability actions. She also defended for several years a major asbestos producer in injury and death cases, trying several such cases to verdict.

In addition to the practice of law, Ms. Kearns is a dedicated supporter of Mama’s Kitchen, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides 100% nutrition (3 meals a day, 365 days of the year) to persons who are affected by AIDS/HIV or cancer and are unable to provide for their own nutritional needs. She has been involved with the organization since its inception in 1990 and has served as President of the Board of Directors. In her spare time, Ms. Kearns is an avid world traveler, scuba diver and underwater photographer.


  • California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California


  • University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1986
    - University of San Diego Moot Court National Team Member, 1986
  • University of California, San Diego, B.A. in Experimental Psychology, Departmental Honors with Distinction, 1983
    - UCSD, Honors Thesis, "Regression Analysis and Sentencing Decisions", 1983


  • Duane Morris LLP, Partner, 2004 - present
  • Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, Partner, 1995-2003
  • Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, Associate, 1987-1994
  • Haight, Dickson, Brown & Bonesteel, Associate, 1986-1987

Board Memberships

  • Mama's Kitchen, Member of Board of Directors, 2014 - present
  • Secretary of Board of Directors, Mama's Kitchen, 2016 - present
  • President of Board of Directors, Mama's Kitchen, 2007
  • Mama's Kitchen, Member of Board of Directors, 2004-2010

Honors and Awards

  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell since 1997
  • Top Lawyers, San Diego Magazine, Employment Law, 2017
  • Top Lawyers, San Diego Magazine, Employment Law, 2016
  • Top Lawyers, San Diego Magazine, Employment Law, 2015
  • Top Lawyers, San Diego Magazine, Employment Law, 2014
  • Top Lawyers, San Diego Magazine, Employment Law, 2013
  • Friend of the LGBT Community, Tom Homann Law Association, 2011

Selected Publications

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, "Section 1557 Compliance," Webinar presentation in conjunction with HCCS/Healthstream, March 16, 2017
  • Speaker, "Legal Updates and Trends for 2017," Duane Morris and BB&T Executive Briefing, January 19, 2017
  • Speaker, "Fair Play: Balancing Competition and Trade Secret Protection," Duane Morris and BB&T Breakfast Briefing, September 15, 2016
  • Speaker, "Compliance Strategies for California's New Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Rules," Duane Morris Webinar, July 28, 2016
  • Speaker, "Under the Microscope: Your Workplace" and "Lab Notebook: Friend or Foe?" 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, San Diego, California, March 16, 2016
  • Speaker, "Psychiatric Testing and Workplace Violence Avoidance," Duane Morris LLP Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Group Spring Seminar Program, San Diego, California, May 19, 2015
  • Speaker and Moderator, "Protecting Your Workers When Nature Gets Nasty," LexisNexis Webinar, May 14, 2015
  • Speaker, "Everything You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Sexual Harassment (Or Were Afraid to Ask)," Duane Morris' Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Program, San Diego, California, April 30, 2015
  • Speaker, "2014 Developments in Workplace Law and Practice," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, Los Angeles, May 21, 2014
  • "Restrictive Covenants in California: Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information," Duane Morris Institute Webinar, February 5, 2013
  • "Employment Law 101 - Getting It Right," CONNECT Frameworks Workshop, Sanford-Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California, June 26, 2012
  • "How to Protect Your Trade Secrets and Confidential Information," IOA CEO Roundtable, San Diego, July 11, 2012
  • Speaker, the Brinker Decision, Webinar, April 17, 2012
  • "Sexual Harassment Prevention for the C-Suite," Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Diego, April 12, 2012
  • "Workers' Compensation 101," SDSU Entrepreneurial Management Center's Family Business Forum, San Diego, February 2, 21 and 22, 2012
  • "California's New Employment Laws for 2012," Duane Morris Institute Webinar, January 26, 2012
  • "Top Ten Ways to Lose Your Business Without Even Trying," American Association of Cosmetology Schools' Annual Meeting, Phoenix, November 4, 2011
  • "California Wage and Hour Issues and Class Action Litigation," Duane Morris Institute Webinar, October 20, 2011
  • "Disability Issues and Employer Obligations," Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Diego, October 20, 2011
  • Speaker, "New Laws—New Interpretations," EMC Business Forum's Closely Held and Family Business Retreat, Rancho Santa Fe, California, April 15, 2011
  • "Employment Law Update," Presented to Oggi's Restaurants Franchisees' Meeting, Irvine, California, May 24, 2011
  • Speaker, "Know the Building Code That Applies to You: The Legal Updates," Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law & Practice, San Diego, May 20, 2010
  • "Managing Employee Absences: The Legal Minefield," Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Diego, March 16, 2010
  • Panelist, "Sex at Work: Right or Wrong?" "Tell Me More with Michel Martin" Radio Broadcast on National Public Radio News, October 8, 2009
  • "Employment in the Electronic Age," San Diego Tech Coast Angels, La Jolla, California, October 21, 2009
  • Quoted in "Your Career: A Lesson for Workplace Lovers,", October 5, 2009
  • "Conducting Internal Investigations: Is Your Organization Prepared?" Duane Morris Employment & Immigration Seminar, San Diego, September 24, 2009
  • "Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2009," Duane Morris Employment & Immigration Seminar, La Jolla, California, May 20, 2009
  • "Disability and Reasonable Accommodation Issues," Duane Morris Employment & Immigration Breakfast Briefing, San Diego, April 17, 2009
  • "Five Employment Landmines to Sidestep," Presentation to the Annual Meeting of Franchisees of Oggi's Restaurants, Barona Resort & Casino, Lakeside, California, April 8, 2009
  • "Liabilities of Workforce Management in a Downward Economy," Presentation to the San Diego State University Entrepreneurial Management Center Business Forum, Family and Closely Held Business Retreat, Rancho Santa Fe, California, February 27, 2009
  • "Implementing the New FMLA Regulations in California," Duane Morris Workshop, San Diego, February 12, 2009
  • Speaker, "Best Downsizing Strategies for 2009," San Diego, February 4, 2009
  • "Top 10 Mistakes Employers Make During a Recession," Duane Morris Employment & Immigration Breakfast Briefing, San Diego, January 16, 2009
  • Speaker, "FLSA," Duane Morris' FLSA, Family/Military Leave, and Immigration Workshop for Healthcare Industry Leaders, Chicago, September 16, 2008
  • "Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2008," Duane Morris Annual Employment, Benefits and Immigration Briefing, San Diego, May 20 2008
  • "FMLA Workshop: Implementing the New FMLA Regs in California" Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Diego, February 12, 2008
  • Speaker, "Employment and Immigration Law in the Workplace," advanced continuing education workshop sponsored by Sterling Education Services, San Diego, California, January 17, 2007
  • Speaker, "Strategies to Solve Your Most Complex FMLA Challenges," advanced continuing education workshop, La Jolla, California, November 21, 2006