Robert Shwarts


San Francisco

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Robert Shwarts is a first chair trial lawyer and Chair of Orrick's Global Trade Secrets Practice Group who has tried or arbitrated more than 40 cases in the areas of commercial litigation, employment and intellectual property.

He represents plaintiffs and defendants in complex trade secret misappropriation cases and has conducted numerous TRO and preliminary injunction hearings in aid of these cases. His practice also includes counseling relating to trade secrets misappropriation and non-compete/non-solicitation agreements.

Rob has broad experience in commercial litigation, having litigated claims of securities fraud, lender liability, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of warranties, claims arising from securitization transactions and other business fraud.

Rob's experience in employment-related litigation includes defending claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, retaliation, sexual harassment and breach of contract. His practice also includes counseling relating to trade secret misappropriation and non-compete/non-solicitation agreements.

U.S. and international clients with significant California presence turn to Rob to represent them in complex matters, including numerous financial services companies. He handles both jury and bench trials, as well as AAA, JAMS and FINRA (formerly NASD and NYSE) arbitration hearings.

Rob serves as the chair of the Firm’s Practice Management Committee, and is a member of the firm’s Risk Management Committee. Rob previously served as head of the San Francisco office. Rob contributes pro bono hours to the Humane Society and Point Blue Conservation Science each year.

Rob is a contributing author to the Orrick trade secrets blog, Trade Secrets Watch.

Posts by: Rob Shwarts

Post This! Private Employers Not Required to Display Pro-Union NLRB Posters

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently announced that it would not seek Supreme Court Review of two U.S. Court of Appeals decisions invalidating the NLRB’s Notice Posting Rule, which would have required most private sector employers to post a pro-union notice of employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act on their premises and websites. READ MORE

Governor Brown Expands Paid Family Leave Eligibility, Boosts Minimum Wage, and Grants Overtime to Nannies

California’s Paid Family Leave Now Covers More Kin 

Currently, through California’s Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) insurance program, workers may collect up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits while taking leave under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) or California’s Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or the placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption. On September 24, 2013, Governor Brown signed SB 770, expanding the PFL program to cover siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents in-law. Note, however, that PFL does not provide leave rights. CFRA was not similarly amended and, as with FMLA, only provides protected leave with reinstatement rights when taken to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or the placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption (among other things). Thus, employees who take leave to care for a sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent in-law, though they may receive partial wage replacement, will not be afforded job protection and reinstatement rights unless provided under an employer plan. READ MORE

The High Cost of Hiring Unpaid Interns

Given the difficulty of finding a job in today’s economy, unpaid internships are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for students looking to gain resume-boosting experience. Yet just because someone is willing to work for free and will derive some benefit from an unpaid internship, it does not make it legal under state and federal law. Class litigation regarding unpaid interns is on the rise, and likely will increase even more given the recent ruling in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight PicturesREAD MORE

Rule 23(b) or Not to Be: Wang v. Chinese News the Ninth Circuit’s Latest Decision to Reevaluate Certification after Wal-Mart

Gavel and Hundred-Dollar Bill

The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Wang v. Chinese Daily News is the latest to affirm that Wal-Mart v. Dukes is controlling in wage-and-hour class action cases.  READ MORE

Narrowed Dukes v. Wal-Mart Class Survives Motion to Dismiss

The ongoing saga of the more than decade-old sex discrimination class action against Wal-Mart (Dukes v. Wal-Mart) will continue after the federal district court handling the case allowed plaintiffs’ fourth amended complaint to survive a motion to dismiss in a ruling on September 21, 2012. In June of last year, the Supreme Court rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to bring a nationwide class action against Wal-Mart, holding that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) because they could not show sufficient commonality between the almost 1.5 million members of the class and reversing class certification. In response, the plaintiffs filed a fourth amended complaint in district court, narrowing their proposed class to several hundred thousand female Wal-Mart employees in four regions of California. Wal-Mart subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the new complaint, arguing (among other things) that it suffered from the same commonality problems as the class rejected by the Supreme Court.

The district court handling the case rejected Wal-Mart’s argument, finding that the Supreme Court took issue with plaintiffs’ evidence, not necessarily their theories and that plaintiffs should therefore have the opportunity to present evidence to demonstrate commonality among the new class members at the class certification stage. In particular, the district court noted that plaintiffs’ new complaint alleged that they could provide class-wide proof of a “culture and philosophy of gender bias shared by the relevant decision-makers,” citing to allegedly gender-biased comments made at management training meetings. The district court found that this allegation allowed the complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, while noting that the plaintiffs “still must prove that every decision-maker in the group—perhaps four hundred or so…operated under a common policy or mode of decision-making” to obtain class certification. So, although the district court found that plaintiffs’ theories do not fail as a matter of law, whether or not they will actually be successful in a renewed attempt at class certification is a different question entirely. For now, we will all have to wait to find out if the nation’s once largest sex discrimination class action can survive under the Supreme Court’s latest class certification ruling.

Can You Enforce Your Non-Compete Clause?

People Walking

Employers should take a closer look at non-compete clauses in their employment agreements following the Central District of California’s decision earlier this month in Arkley v. Aon Risk Services Companies, Inc., (Case No. 2:12-cv-01966-DSF-RZ).  Arkley invalidated a non-compete clause in an employment contract under California law even though the contract contained a choice of law clause selecting Illinois law, which upholds such clauses. READ MORE