Instructor Profile — Brooke Tabshouri — Human Resources

Brooke TabshouriBrooke Tabshouri is highly regarded by her peers. In fact, their votes earned her a place on the San Diego Daily Transcript’s list of Top Young Attorneys for 2013 and 2014.

While attending law school, Tabshouri originally planned for a career as a criminal defense attorney. But she soon discovered that her true passion was employment law, which led to her current position with Fisher Phillips.

This summer, she is teaching Human Resource Management and the Law I for the first time through SDSU’s College of Extended Studies, where she previously served as a guest lecturer for the past three years. Her students can expect to hear plenty of real-life anecdotes from this top young HR attorney.

What does your job entail?
I am a labor and employment attorney with Fisher Phillips, a position I have held since 2012. I work with managers, HR professionals, and companies on day-to-day employment matters (such as disciplinary and termination issues), represent them in lawsuits filed by employees, and provide required trainings and policies, such as harassment training and employee handbooks.

Why did you want to get into law?
The law has always interested me. It is the background of our society and culture, and affects every area of life in one way or another. I went to law school with the intention of becoming a criminal defense attorney, but once I discovered employment law I realized that it was all I wanted to do.

What is your education background?
I double-majored in English and International Relations at UC Davis, then went on to earn my law degree at Boston University in 2011. After law school, I clerked for a judge at the California Court of Appeal in San Diego for almost a year and then transitioned into labor and employment law with Fisher Phillips.

You were named a top Young Attorney by the San Diego Daily Transcript in 2013 and 2014. How did that feel, and how has it helped your career?
It was such an honor. It’s made me strive to live up to the expectations set by such an award and to try to exceed them every day.

What are some of the highlights of your class, Human Resource Management and the Law I?
We will have in-class exercises every session that are based on real cases that my colleagues and I have handled so that students can see real-world examples of how important HR professionals are in this area of law. I personally learn best by listening to illustrative examples, so I try to use them whenever possible. I will also draw on the expertise of my colleagues, some of whom will be guest speakers.

Can you share an example of a case you will discuss in class?
We’ll discuss the importance of documenting performance problems by comparing two different termination notices from real cases. We will compare why one was effective and one was not, and how the amount of detail impacted the lawsuit that was eventually filed in each.

What will students learn in your class that they didn’t know before attending?
They will learn about how all the different leave laws interact in California. Few people realize that if you have an employee go out on pregnancy leave, there are potentially six different leave laws that come into play and all work together in different ways.

What is the most interesting aspect of the legal environment affecting HR management?
So much of what an HR professional does is potentially an exhibit in a trial or arbitration someday. Therefore, I think it’s important to keep in mind that whenever you do a write-up or termination notice or investigation report, you are potentially also writing for a judge and jury.

How well-versed must HR managers be concerning federal, state, and local laws?
It is absolutely critical. California has so many laws affecting employment that any personnel action is potentially risky in ways that may not be immediately obvious, so knowing what is potentially at stake and what questions to ask (particularly if an action seems pretty straightforward) can make all the difference in the world.

Where do you think the HR profession is headed?
HR professionals will continue to play a central role in advising management on the pros and cons of every employment decision. HR professionals are often front and center in employment lawsuits, and therefore knowledge of the law is key.

What advice do you have for individuals seeking to enter the HR profession?
Pack your patience and pay attention to detail. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Is there anything your students will be surprised to learn about you?
In high school, I co-wrote and directed a play.