John McGuinn, Esq. is an accomplished trial lawyer with 54 years of experience handling a wide range of civil matters, with particular emphasis in the fields of employment law and personal injury, including maritime law. In addition to evaluating and settling or otherwise disposing of hundreds of cases prior to trial, he has tried to verdict over 50 jury trials in the areas of catastrophic injury, wrongful death, insurance bad faith, employment discrimination, and wrongful termination.

A graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, Mr. McGuinn has been recognized by Super Lawyers as one of the top trial lawyers in the state and by Best Lawyers in America continuously throughout its publication as one of the country’s outstanding trial attorneys in the area of employment law. He has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) since 1983, served as President of its San Francisco chapter in 1998, and was President of CAL-ABOTA in 2001. He is a Fellow in the International Society of Barristers, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a Fellow in the American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Mr. McGuinn has also devoted significant time to developing his skills in alternative dispute resolution. He attended the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and has acted as a mediator in numerous disputes since 1991, particularly in the areas of personal injury, wrongful death, and virtually every aspect of employment law.


  • Employment Discrimination: age, gender, race, national origin, and disability discrimination; failure to accommodate; sexual harassment
  • Wage & Hour Claims
  • Wrongful Termination: breach of covenant of good faith/fair dealing
  • Personal Injury
  • Maritime Law: general maritime law; Jones Act; unseaworthiness; Death on High Seas Act; Longshore & Harborworkers’ Compensation Act; Defense Base Act; Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act)


  • McGuinn, Hillsman & Palefsky, Founding Partner (1975-2019)
  • Lewton & McGuinn (1968-1975)
  • Redland & Pinney (1965-1968)


  • Mediator and Arbitrator (1991-Present)
  • Judicial Arbitrator, San Francisco Superior Court (1980-Present)


  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1965
  • B.A. in Humanities, University of California, Berkeley, 1961


Mr. McGuinn is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court (Northern, Eastern, Central, and Southern Districts of California); the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit; and the State Bar of California.

Representative Cases


  • Race and National Origin Discrimination. Plaintiff, a Caucasian American, worked for a Korean company. Plaintiff was put in charge of a division and turned it around from unprofitability to profitability. Plaintiff alleged that he was then terminated without explanation except that it was not performance based. Case settled.
  • Gender, Race and Age Discrimination. Plaintiff worked for a church for over 30 years. She was 66 years old when terminated and claimed that she was wrongfully terminated for age and gender discrimination. The priest who terminated plaintiff was 37 years old and claimed that plaintiff was terminated for insubordination and negative attitude. Case settled.
  • Gender Discrimination (“glass ceiling”). Plaintiff received numerous promotions after her hire in 2004. Her boss put in paperwork to promote her to a Director position at defendant company. The company had 80 to 100 director positions worldwide yet less than 5% were held by women. Plaintiff alleged that she was then terminated under the pretext that there were a few hundred dollars of questionable charges in her expense report. Case settled.
  • Sexual Harassment. Plaintiff was a 25-year-old female working as an able-bodied “seaman” on a ship. Plaintiff claimed she was sexually harassed by the second officer. She then complained to the ship captain about the second officer’s conduct. Plaintiff left the ship and informed the defendant shipping company about the sexual harassment and alleged refusal of the captain to do anything about her complaints. Case settled.
  • Disability and Age Discrimination. Plaintiff had worked for defendant employer for 18 years. Plaintiff alleged that defendant failed to engage in the interactive process and provide a reasonable accommodation to plaintiff for her disability. Case settled.
  • Wrongful Termination In Violation Of Public Policy (“Retaliation”), Violation Of Labor Code Section 1102.5, Breach Of Contract and Breach Of The Covenant Of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Plaintiff is a board-certified physician who worked in the field of drug safety and development for many years. She also served as a consultant to defendant, a drug company. Defendant asked plaintiff to become an employee, to which she agreed. After doing so, plaintiff observed and reported to management many concerns she had about defendant not reporting important information to the FDA. Plaintiff was terminated shortly thereafter. Case settled.
  • Whistleblower case under Labor Code sections 1102.5 and 1050. Plaintiff alleged he was terminated after he brought forward to his employer, a public utility, deceptive and unsafe practices. Case settled for 7 figures.

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Maritime Law

  • 3 Greek seamen Were severely injured while painting a lifeboat suspended above the bay in its davits While the ship was in Port.
  • The lifeboat fell 40 to 50 feet into the bay. The vessel was a Liberian registered ship but owned by an American. Suit was filed under the Jones act in general maritime law. The case settle before trial for over six figures.
  • A commercial diver suffered the bends after his breathing equipment failed while he was 80 feet underwater. We sued the employer under the Jones Act and general maritime law the case settled for six figures.