MAY 31, 2023Michael O'Brien, an attorney with more than two decades of wide-ranging labor and employment-related experience, has joined Davis Wright Tremaine LLP's market-leading employment services team in Anchorage.

O'Brien comes to Davis Wright from Perkins Coie LLP, where he built a local and national practice that encompasses traditional labor, litigation, and counseling.

A significant portion of his work involves advising clients on their most complex labor challenges: union organizing, collective bargaining, arbitrations, and responding to unfair labor practice allegations.

"Companies around the country are experiencing a dramatic rise in union organizing," said Jenna Mooney, co-chair of Davis Wright's employment services group. "This has resulted in a significant spike in demand for the kind of rare expertise that Michael brings. We are delighted that he will expand our capacity to serve clients across multiple industries on these critical strategic issues."

"With his combination of national corporate clients and local Alaska clients, such as utilities and Native Corporations, Michael perfectly complements the strengths of our team," said Elizabeth Hodes, Alaska partner-in-charge and a member of the employment services group. "He will immediately contribute to the growth of our office, practice, and firm."

Prior to joining Perkins, O'Brien spent 11 years as associate general counsel at the University of Alaska. There he represented system universities in complex legal issues involving labor and employment, Title IX, NCAA violations, and other education laws. He began his career as a State of Alaska public defender, where he tried dozens of jury trials to verdict.

O'Brien brings significant experience litigating employment cases as well. He also leads internal investigations, counsels organizations on discrimination claims, and responds to complaints before state and federal agencies.

O'Brien is a longtime leader in the Alaska legal market. He most recently served as president of the Federal Bar Association's Alaska chapter and is a frequent speaker and presenter at human resource conferences and trade organizations. He is a past recipient of the Alaska Bar Association's Bryan P. Timbers Pro Bono Award, which honored his years of work assisting survivors of domestic violence, especially women whose immigration status makes them highly vulnerable to abuse.

"Joining Davis Wright provides me the opportunity to expand my practice as part of a team focused on strategic growth," said O'Brien. "In addition to collaborating with partners around the country to advance the firm's leadership in key industry sectors, I'm looking forward to sharing my experience as a mentor and developer of younger associates. I also plan to be an active participant in Davis Wright's renowned pro bono program."

O'Brien received his J.D. cum laude from Vermont Law and Graduate School, where he also received a masters in environmental law and policy. He has an M.A. from St. John's College as well and a B.A. from the University of Montana. He began his career in Alaska leading trail crews in Kenai Fjords National Park and writing for an Alaska newspaper, The Seward Phoenix LOG.

O'Brien is the second lateral partner to join Davis Wright's employment services group this year. In March, Jeremy Merkelson arrived as the practice team's first partner in Washington, D.C. O'Brien is also the second lateral partner to join the firm's Anchorage office this year. Sarah Gillstrom, a real estate litigator, arrived in January, also from Perkins Coie.

About Davis Wright Tremaine

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is an AmLaw 100 law firm with more than 600 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. In its most recent guide to the U.S. legal market, Chambers USA awarded Davis Wright's Alaska office its top ranking in multiple practice areas, including labor and employment. Learn more at