Common Sense Advice And Uncommon Legal Results
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Laura C. McHugh

  • Senior Partner

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Practice Areas:

  • Employment Law Advice & Counsel
  • Employment Litigation - Employer
  • Labor Law – Employer
  • Mediation
  • ADA Access Litigation
  • Workplace Investigations


Laura McHugh has represented companies of all sizes in employment and labor law matters for over 25 years. In 2018, she partnered with Jennifer Duggan to further the success of their women-owned Sacramento law firm.

Specializing in employment law and litigation, Laura has skillfully handled a variety of employment disputes and tried several cases, including individual and class actions. She has argued before the California Supreme Court and Third District Court of Appeal, obtaining precedential, published decisions.

Laura is committed to working closely with her clients to provide cost-efficient and effective solutions to their workplace needs, whether it is an aggressive litigation defense to a hotly-contested employment dispute, or practical day-to-day guidance on workplace issues including discipline and discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leaves of absence, disability accommodation, wage and hour, prevailing wage, the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), meal period and rest break compliance, or trade secrets and unfair competition issues. Her expertise expands to traditional labor law matters including labor arbitrations, unfair labor practices, and grievance resolution.

Laura advocates for employers in a broad range of settings, including state and federal courts, arbitrations, and mediations. She also has extensive experience representing clients in administrative proceedings including hearings before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB), the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (OSHAB), and the California State Labor Commissioner. She serves as a mediator and investigator in employment matters and provides sexual harassment and other workplace training.

Prior to partnering with Jennifer Duggan, Laura spent almost two decades exclusively representing businesses in employment and labor law matters at a boutique Sacramento firm she co-founded in 1999.

Since 2019, Laura has enjoyed contributing her expertise to the Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada by serving as a board member and chairperson of the Employment Law Committee.

Laura graduated magna cum laude from University of California at Santa Barbara and then worked in corporate human resources for a large bank in Los Angeles.

During law school, she served as editor for the Santa Clara Law Review and a judicial extern for the Honorable Gerome Smith of the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

In her free time, she enjoys her family, her dogs, traveling, light surfing, and an occasional hack at the golf ball.


  • Santa Clara University School of Law, Santa Clara, California
    • Editor, Santa Clara Law Review
    • Judicial Extern, Justice Gerome Smith, California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District
  • University of California at Santa Barbara
    • magna cum laude
    • Senior Honors Program

Bar Admissions

  • Supreme Court of the United States of America
  • California
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, pro hac vice
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, pro hac vice


  • Northern California, Super Lawyers
  • Sacramento Business Journal’s Best of the Bar
  • Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers
  • Lawyer of Distinction, Top 10% Employment and Labor Law Attorneys

Professional Associations

  • Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada, Board Member and Chairperson, Employment Law Committee
  • Defense Research Institute, Member
  • Gordon D. Schaber, Mock Trial and Moot Court Volunteer Judge
  • Sacramento Area Human Resource Association
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, Communications Alumni Council, Founding Member
  • Women Lawyers of Sacramento
  • Women Up, Sacramento, Founding Member

Published Decisions

  • Paratransit Inc. v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (2014) 59 Cal.4th 551
  • Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244
  • Valley Slurry Seal Co., 343 NLRB 233 (2004)
  • Paratransit, Inc. (ATU, Local 256) (2002) 116 LA 1448
  • Gawlik, et al. v. Diogenes Youth Services, Inc. (Arb. 2002) 2002 LA Supp. 109807
  • Taylor v. ScottPolar Corp., 995 F.Supp. 1072 (D. Ariz. 1998)