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Caitlin Shortell

ATTORNEY PROFILE

Attorney Caitlin Shortell is a fierce advocate for her clients and the rights of all Alaskans. After receiving her legal education in Boston and early legal work experience in San Francisco, Ms. Shortell  worked as an attorney for several Alaska public agencies and started her own firm in 2009.

Education

  • B.A. University of California at Berkeley, CA cum laude (1995); 
  • J.D. Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA (1999)

Judicial Externships/Clerkships

  • Judicial externship, Honorable Judge Maxine Chesney of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco, CA;
  • Judicial clerkship, Honorable Judge Stephanie Joannides of the Anchorage Superior Court, Anchorage, AK

Work Experience 

Ms. Shortell returned home to Alaska in 2003 and worked as an Assistant Public Defender at the Alaska Public Defender Agency (2003); as an Assistant Attorney General at the Alaska Attorney General's Office (2004-2008); and as Human Rights Advocate at the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights (2008-2009).

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE

Since founding a private practice in 2009, Ms. Ms. Shortell has fought and won landmark civil rights victories and won everyday battles for individuals, including but not limited to the following:

EMPLOYMENT LAW

Ms. Shortell has focused her law practice on representation for employees. The following is just a sample of Ms. Shortell's employment law accomplishments:

  • She obtained monetary relief for 18 construction workers in a FLSA collective action case against a multinational corporation
  • Sued for individual employees denied unpaid wages and overtime
  • Obtained monetary settlement for a woman who was fired in retaliation for opposing discrimination in her employment as a heavy equipment operator
  • Obtained monetary settlements for a group of university employees wrongfully accused in internal ethics investigations
  • Obtained monetary settlements for victims of sexual harassment in both private sector and government employment
  • Won an arbitration and obtained monetary settlement for a public employee who was wrongfully terminated
  • Achieved reasonable accommodations for an educator who was discriminated against based on her disabilities
  • Achieved monetary settlement for a woman who was sexually harassed in her employment at a hospital
  • Achieved monetary settlement for a federal sector employee who suffered hostile work environment harassment based on her race, sex, and age, and reprisal for prior EEO activity

SEASONED FAMILY LAW PRACTITIONER

Ms. Shortell has litigated more than 50 family law cases in the last decade, including multiple high net worth and financially complex divorces, dissolutions, child custody, child support, cases involving LGBTQ family law issues, adoption, and guardianship. Ms. Shortell's background in child protection work and a training in Transformative Mediation distinguishes her from other family law practitioners. Ms. Shortell provides volunteer representation in family law cases for survivors of domestic violence for ANDVSA. 

LANDMARK LGBTQ RIGHTS VICTORIES AND PERSISTENT ADVOCACY

Ms. Shortell was plaintiff's counsel in Hamby v. Parnell (2014),the case that secured same sex couples the right to marry in Alaska . Ms. Shortell helped write and pass the LGBT-inclusive Anchorage Equal Rights Ordinance (2015) Five years after winning the lawsuit that secured equal marriage, Ms. Shortell sued to stop the State of Alaska from a discriminatory practice of denial of PFDs to same sex military spouses and kids stationed out of State in Smith v. Dunleavy (2020).

Ms. Shortell has provided expert advice and testimony to the Alaska State Legislature and the Anchorage Assembly on LGBTQ Rights legislation and to Alaska's congressional delegation on the Equality Act. Ms. Shortell continues to serve LGBTQ clients in civil rights, employment, and family law cases.

Ms. Shortell is on the board of Identity Alaska.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS, CHILDREN'S RIGHTS, AND ADVOCACY FOR SURVIVORS

Ms. Shortell is a committed advocate for the rights of women, children, and survivors. While working as an assistant attorney general between 2004 and 2008, Ms. Shortell did over one hundred contested hearings involving child abuse and neglect and never lost a case. She filed the first lawsuit in Alaska arguing that the failure to test a client's rape kit was a civil rights violation & advocated for an audit of the state's rape kit backlog (2015). She continues to represent survivors of sexual violence, including high profile cases involving state officials. Ms. Shortell has represented victims of sex discrimination and respondents in Title IX administrative proceedings in the university setting and United States District Court. Ms. Shortell is a volunteer for ANDVSA and the Times Up Legal Fund.

RACE DISCRIMINATION

While working as Human Rights Advocate at the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, Ms. Shortell obtained the largest damage award for a complainant in Commission history in a case of race discrimination. Ms. Shortell has won monetary settlements on behalf of clients who experienced race discrimination in their employment. Ms. Shortell volunteered to represent a child who was expelled from the Anchorage School District, arguing that the expulsion was part of a documented pattern of racially disproportionate discipline. Ms. Shortell has successfully handled numerous administrative proceedings, litigation, and appeals involving race discrimination. 

INCARCERATED PEOPLE'S RIGHTS

Ms. Shortell advocates on behalf of incarcerated people. As a law student, Ms. Shortell worked at the Prison Law Office, monitoring conditions for prisoners with disabilities. In her own private practice, Ms. Shortell obtained a monetary settlement after suing the State of Alaska Department of Corrections alleging that the State was negligent in allowing a client to be assaulted repeatedly and challenged the State's negligent mental health treatment and denial of reading materials to an incarcerated client.

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Ms. Shortell has helped clients obtain reasonable accommodations in the workplace for their disabilities, advocated for a school district to make its website accessible to persons with vision disabilities, and has helped clients oppose harassment and discrimination based on disability. Before founding her own law firm, Ms. Shortell successfully litigated numerous cases of disability discrimination as Human Rights Advocate at the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights and worked as an intern at the Prison Law Office on a class action involving California state prisoners with disabilities.

MEDIATION

Ms. Shortell is trained and practices as a mediator in Transformative Mediation. Ms. Shortell has successfully participated as counsel for litigants in numerous mediations and settlement conferences.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND CRIMINAL APPEALS

Ms. Shortell worked as a legal intern for the San Francisco Public Defender (1998), as Parole Attorney at the Alaska Public Defender (2003), and as a CJA panel attorney doing criminal trials, appeals, and post-conviction relief (2009-2011). In addition, Ms. Shortell has served criminal defendants in her own private practice in state court prosecutions and acted as conflict appellate counsel for the Alaska Public Defender Agency (2009-2012).

VOLUNTEER WORK 

Ms. Shortell offers volunteer representation and legal advice for survivors of sexual and domestic violence through ANDVSA and the NWLC Times Up Legal Fund.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Ms. Shortell currently serves on the board of Identity Alaska and has previously served on the boards of Out North and Alaska Institute for Justice.

 
Telephone: (907) 272-8181

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