E. Joseph Connaughton

Managing Partner

Joe Connaughton is the Managing Partner of Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton.  Since graduating from Boston College Law School, he has specialized in defending, advising, and training technology, education, healthcare, and staffing company employers in matters of litigation and litigation avoidance.

Joe particularly specializes in employee mobility and intellectual property matters, as well as defending employers in whistleblowing, wrongful termination, wage and hour, discrimination, and harassment matters throughout California.  He also handles high-import commercial litigation for select clients.

Joe has successfully defended lawsuits to both juries and judges in California state and federal courts, as well as through state and federal administrative forums.  He has also successfully represented clients through state and federal appellate processes and in arbitrations throughout California, nationally and internationally.  He is also outside general counsel for Alliant International University.

Joe has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® every year since 2011.  He was named 2020 Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” in San Diego Employment Law - Management.  He was awarded "Top Attorney" status by the San Diego Daily Transcript annually since 2006 and has been named to San Diego Super Lawyers for Employment and Labor Law annually since 2007.


  • Boston College Law School, J.D. 1993, cum laude
  • Miami University (Ohio), B.S. 1990

Professional Experience

  • Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP - Partner, August 1998 - December 2019; Managing Partner, January 2020 - present
  • Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich - Associate, September 1993 - July 1998


  • All California state courts
  • United States District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of California
  • United States Supreme Court

Professional Activities

  • Member, National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Member, American, Bar Association
  • Member, State Bar of  California, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Member, San Diego Bar Associations, Labor and Employment Law Section

Speaking Engagements

  • Understanding the Gig Economy, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2016
  • Background Checks, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2015
  • Creative Recruitment & Retention in a Risky Environment, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, November 2014 
  • Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce, PPSC Annual Employment Law Update, October 2013

Representative Matters

  • Temporary restraining order and permanent injunction obtained against former employee on behalf of insurance brokerage in trade secrets theft litigation
  • Complete dismissal, via an anti-SLAPP motion, of a physician harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit on behalf of prestigious medical group
  • Verdict on behalf of a Fortune 500 company in an international commercial arbitration involving breach of highly-publicized agreement between international competitors
  • Verdict on behalf of a Fortune 500 company in complex commercial litigation involving DNA technology competitors
  • Defense verdict in a wage and hour misclassification trial on behalf of a wireless communication company; judgment affirmed by Court of Appeal in published opinion
  • Defense verdict in a retaliation trial on behalf of a public entity
  • Defense verdict in a race harassment and retaliation trial on behalf of a public entity
  • Complete defense verdict in a sexual harassment, wrongful termination and race discrimination arbitration brought by a senior executive of a Fortune 150 company
  • Summary judgment in a gender discrimination and breach of contract lawsuit on behalf of a national staffing agency
  • Summary judgment in an age discrimination and unfair business practices lawsuit on behalf of a large technology company
  • Summary judgment on a sexual harassment and religious and gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a large technology client, and successfully obtained an opinion by the Court of Appeal affirming the summary judgment