Kathleen O. Peterson

Direct (949) 252-2628
Kathleen has more than 30 years of litigation experience. She assists people in navigating some of the most challenging experiences in life – the failure of a business arrangement, the end of a marriage or the challenge of resolving a difficult relationship with a key employee. She has a unique understanding of how human dynamics affect the resolution of disputes. Kathleen employs both her legal and interpersonal skills to provide incisive and creative legal solutions for her clients.

With a broad-based background in representing technology companies, start-ups and multi-generational businesses, Kathleen has expertise in matters involving copyright, trademark, trade secrets, employment disputes, executive compensation and non-competition agreements. She also counsels executives and entrepreneurs who are changing employment on their legal obligations and rights.
Kathleen was born on Staten Island, New York, to an Irish immigrant and a fourth-generation New Yorker. She attended New York’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School and also received classical ballet training at American Ballet Theatre School. She moved to California to attend Stanford University, where she obtained her A.B. degree in English in 1982. After working as a marketing writer in the computer industry in Silicon Valley, she attended law school at U.C.L.A. and obtained her J.D. in 1986. She spent the first ten years of her career as a litigation attorney in Los Angeles, primarily with Loeb and Loeb and Preston Gates & Ellis LLP. In 1997 she opened the Orange County office of Preston Gates & Ellis and served as that office’s managing partner for five years. She also served on the firm’s compensation committee and the transition committee when the firm merged with another large national firm to become K&L Gates LLP. She left K&L Gates in 2009 to focus on family law and the business litigation issues that arise in those disputes. She received her family law training at Minyard Morris LLP in Newport Beach and opened her own practice in 2011. She joined Cates Peterson LLP as a partner in February 2015 to continue to grow her litigation and family law practice. Kathleen is experienced at using discovery and court procedures to design a litigation plan that will provide the best possible results at the best possible time. Kathleen also has experience in appellate work. Professional Highlights:
  • Named in 2007 – 2011 Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation
  • Panelist on “Conflicts of Interest” at annual seminar of California Association of Business Trial Lawyers, October 2006
  • Co-author “Electronic Discovery, Inadvertent Production and the New Federal Rules,” Orange County Lawyer, August 2006
  • Author of article “Wage and hour suits are no game for fast-growing industry,” Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, July 8, 2005
  • Named a “Top Lawyer” in Orange County by Orange Coast Magazine 2002
Representative Published Cases:
  • Peterson v. Nurmi, 10 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1775 (C.D. Cal. 1989)
  • Microsoft Corporation v. A-Tech, 855 F. Supp. 308 (C.D. Cal. 1994)
  • Fennessy v. Southwest Airlines, 91 F.3d 1359 (9th Cir. 1996)
  • Sheppard v. Freeman, 70 Cal. Rptr. 2d 13 (1998)
  • Microsoft Corporation v. Software Wholesale Club, 129 F.Supp.2d 995 (S.D. Texas 2000)
  • Microsoft Corporation v. Action Software, 136 F. Supp. 735 (N.D. Ohio 2001)
  • Microsoft Corporation v. V3 Solutions, 2003 WL 2203 8593 (N.D. Ill 2003)
  • Dotster, Inc. v. Internet Corp. for Assigned Names, 2003 WL 23100178 (C.D. Cal. 2003)
  • David Kronemyer v. Internet Movie Data Base, Inc., 59 Cal.Rptr.3d 48 (2007)
Kathleen is married to Mark Peterson, one of the firm’s founders. They met at Wilbur Hall at Stanford when they were both teenagers. Their young adult sons live in San Francisco and Brooklyn.

In her free time Kathleen enjoys creative writing (ask her how many half-written novels are in her laptop), is a fanatic fan of professional cycling (she has a framed picture of Fabian Cancellara crossing the finish line at the 2014 Tour of Flanders) and is a flamenco dancer (just another excuse to buy black clothing?).
Representative matters: Family Law:
  • Representation of financial services professional in challenge to marital judgment after business went through stock reorganization
  • Coordination with client’s business and estate planning attorney to create business trust for intellectual property assets and prepare related family law judgment
  • Representation of partner in registered domestic partnership on child custody and property issues
Business Litigation:
  • Developed and managing anti-piracy software enforcement program for major software company;
  • Representation of major on-line services company in high-profile case involving executive who left to join competitor. Case involved companion actions in Washington and California and issues of trade secrets, jurisdiction and venue clauses, and scope of non-competition agreements
  • Representation of on-line pet adoption company in copyright dispute over database used to provide pet information to the public
  • Representation of bank in wage and hour class action brought by stockbrokers
  • Representation of on-line retail company in consumer class action involving method of charging for shipping and handling fees
  • Revision of employment forms, including employee and independent contractor agreements, moonlighting policies and codes of conduct for software company
  • Due diligence and evaluation of employment issues in acquisitions of technology companies
  • Negotiation of executive and employee contracts and of termination and separation agreements
  • Trade secret and non-competition advice in a variety of industries
Kathleen attended Stanford University and received her A.B. Degree in English in 1982. She obtained her J.D. from UCLA in 1986.
Kathleen was born and grew up on Staten Island, New York. Her father was an Irish immigrant and her mother was a fourth generation New Yorker. She left New York to attend college and has remained in California since then.
Kathleen’s community involvement has included:
  • Past President and current Board Member, Orange County Bar Foundation
  • Committee member for the Higher Education Mentoring Program
  • Board Member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers 2006 - 2009
  • Trustee, Newport Beach Public Library 2003 – 2011; current member of Library Live committee
  • Member of 44 Women for Children group at the Orangewood Foundation
  • Subdeacon in St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Corona Del Mar, California
  • Member of Stanford Professional Women of Orange County