Nicole G. Berner is General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where served as in-house counsel from 2006-2017. Ms. Berner provides strategic legal advice to the union on a broad range of legal matters, including many of SEIU’s innovative organizing campaigns. Ms. Berner has assisted in bargaining national and regional organizing agreements with major employers, supported the union’s work in connection with the NY Fast Food Wage Board, and led the union’s work in a successful challenge to Pennsylvania’s onerous voter ID requirement. Ms. Berner has represented the SEIU and its members in multiple cases in both state and federal courts. She is particularly proud of her role as counsel on SEIU’s amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in a successful defense to the Affordable Care Act, and as the architect of the labor movement briefs in the case which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and the subsequent case which achieved full marriage equality.
Prior to her work at SEIU, Ms. Berner was a staff attorney at Planned Parenthood Association of America (PPFA), where she litigated reproductive rights cases throughout the country and advocated on Capitol Hill for access to reproductive healthcare. Previous to that, she was a litigation associate at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Berner received her law degree (Order of the Coif) from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. She concurrently completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy (MPP) from Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Immediately following law school, Ms. Berner clerked for the Honorable Betty Binns Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She graduated (Phi Beta Kappa) from U.C. Berkeley with a B.A. in Women’s Studies in 1988.
Ms. Berner is a member of the Bar Associations of the District of Columbia and the State of California. She is admitted to practice before numerous courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and various Federal Courts of Appeals. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Partnership for Women and Families.