General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Nicole G. Berner is General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she provides strategic legal advice to the union on a broad range of legal matters, including many of SEIU’s innovative organizing campaigns. She is also a partner at James & Hoffman, P.C. During her more than 20-year legal career, her practice has focused on the intersections of economic justice, racial justice, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights. In 2017, Berner was appointed to the ACS board of directors.
Prior to becoming SEIU’S General Counsel in 2017, Berner spent 11 years as in-house counsel at the union – first as Counsel to the Union’s healthcare division and later as Deputy General Counsel. She has represented SEIU and the Change to Win labor federation in a broad range of cases in state and federal courts, including helping to defend the Affordable Care Act, legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and marriage discrimination, and a successful challenge to Pennsylvania’s onerous voter ID requirement. Prior to her work at SEIU, she served as a staff attorney at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she litigated reproductive rights cases and represented PPFA in state and federal efforts to protect and expand access to reproductive healthcare. Before that, Berner was a litigation associate at the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block.
Berner also serves on the board of directors of the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Berner graduated Order of the Coif from Boalt Hall (U.C. Berkeley) School of Law, where she concurrently completed a master’s degree in public policy (MPP) from Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Berner served as a law clerk to the Hon. Betty Binns Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Hon. Thelton E. Henderson on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She received her B.A. in Women’s Studies from U.C. Berkeley.