Kathleen M. McDowell joined Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in November 1986, following her judicial clerkship. She became a partner as of January 1, 1991 in the litigation department.
Ms. McDowell’s areas of focus include representing defendants in securities, professional liability, and employment litigation. She has extensive experience in representing directors, officers, and corporations in shareholder securities and derivative litigation in both state and federal courts. She has also represented lawyers and law firms in complex civil and regulatory proceedings involving claims of legal malpractice, malicious prosecution, and securities law violations.
Ms. McDowell’s employment law experience includes defending employers in wrongful termination, discrimination, and wage and hour claims as well as providing advice on personnel matters. She co-chaired a month-long jury trial for a large national client which resulted in a defense verdict on claims of national origin and age discrimination. She has also successfully represented clients in many arbitration hearings before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
In 2005, Ms. McDowell argued and won Reynolds v. Bement, 36 Cal.4th 1075 (2005), before the California Supreme Court, which held that officers and directors are not personally liable to the corporation’s employees in a private civil action for unpaid wages. She successfully briefed and argued this issue at both the trial and appellate court levels. She has also written extensively about decisions from the California Supreme Court, having authored the "Key Developments in the Law” article for the annual California Litigation Review for nine years (1996 through 2004).
Ms. McDowell is a longtime board member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations (NCWBA) and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA). She has been active in women’s bar associations for many years, having served as President of WLALA in 2003-2004, and the President of the NCWBA in 2008-2009. She is the recipient of WLALA’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). She is also a former board member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL) – Los Angeles Chapter and of the Los Angeles County Bar Foundation. She continues to serve on the board of the Western Center on Law and Poverty Endowment Foundation. She was profiled in the Los Angeles Daily Journal and Metropolitan News-Enterprise in September 2003.
Ms. McDowell’s latest project has been to bring Food from the Bar to the Los Angeles and other legal communities. Food from the Bar is a four-week campaign held in the spring in which law firms and legal offices engage in friendly competition to raise funds, donate food, and volunteer at local foodbanks. She was a driving force in introducing Food from the Bar to Los Angeles, and was recognized for her work in 2010 as the first recipient of the Food from the Bar Chairs' Award. She remains an active member of the Los Angeles Food from the Bar Steering Committee. She has spoken to many groups about Food from the Bar.