Nicole G. Berner serves as General Counsel of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union. Nicole represents the union in state and federal courts throughout the country and leads the union's nationally recognized legal department. She has dedicated her legal career to protecting and advancing the rights of working people. Nicole is also a Partner at the union-side labor law firm James & Hoffman, P.C. and is an Adjunct Professor of labor law at Vanderbilt Law School.
Nicole came to SEIU in 2006, first as counsel to SEIU's Healthcare Division where she advanced strategies to organize non-union homecare, nursing home and hospital workers. She developed policy and litigation strategies to help protect and implement the Affordable Care Act. She also negotiated national agreements between the union and several major healthcare corporations. In addition to her work in the SEIU Healthcare Division, Nicole also represented the labor movement as amici before the United States Supreme Court in the historic cases striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and establishing the right to marriage equality.
Prior to joining SEIU, Nicole litigated reproductive rights cases at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where her work focused on protecting access to medical abortion and mifepristone. Before that, she was an associate at the Washington, DC, office of Jenner & Block, where she litigated civil cases in a broad range of areas in federal and state courts across the country.
Nicole serves on the Boards of Directors of Jobs with Justice and the National Partnership for Women and Families, and on the International Advisory Board of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society. Nicole began her legal career as a law clerk, first for Judge Betty B. Fletcher on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and then for Judge Thelton E. Henderson on the Northern District of California. She concurrently completed her law degree and a master's degree in public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.