David Urban

David Urban Senior Counsel

David Urban represents organizations, including public and private educators and public agencies, in all aspects of labor and employment law.  He has successfully defended employers in cases involving alleged discrimination and retaliation, disability accommodation, privacy, trade secrets, First Amendment, and alleged violation of wage and hour laws, including meal and rest break laws.  

David often advises educational institutions including colleges and universities and independent schools in matters ranging from faculty employment issues to student free speech rights, disability accommodation, and discipline.  He has substantial experience successfully representing clients in matters involving student misconduct litigation and student challenges to discipline, and serves as a member of the firm's Title IX and Private Education Strike Teams.  He is also a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys ("NACUA").  He recently presented at the June 2018 Annual NACUA Conference on the topic “Faculty and Employee Expression and Academic Freedom in a Time of Unrest,” at the March 2018 Employment Conference on the topic of the First Amendment and Academic Freedom, and at the January 2016 Workshop on Sexual Misconduct on Campus on the topic “Navigating the Intersection of Title IX and FERPA: Nuts and Bolts.”  He was recently quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the topic of discipline of faculty and the First Amendment.

David is an experienced appellate advocate.  He argued in the California Supreme Court in March 2014 on behalf of amicus curiae the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs' Association in the Public Records Act case Long Beach Police Officers Association v. City of Long Beach.  He has represented firm clients in amicus curiae briefing in landmark cases in the California Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court.  

David has developed substantial expertise in the First Amendment as it applies to public employers and educators.  He has obtained defense wins and favorable results for organizations and officials in lawsuits involving alleged violation of free speech rights, and represented educators in published cases in this area, including Lopez v. Candaele, 622 F.3d 1112 (9th Cir. 2010) (dismissing student First Amendment claim on the basis of lack of Article III standing), and Crosby v. South Orange County Community College District, 172 Cal.App.4th 433 (2009) (rejecting free speech challenge to college's electronic communications and internet policy).  He regularly advises clients on policies affecting constitutional and statutory free expression rights, and frequently publishes in this area, both in legal and education journals and on the firm's California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

In private sector work, David has successfully represented employers in matters before the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"), including election proceedings, unfair labor practice proceedings, both defense and prosecution, and responses to strikes and picketing, including successful proceedings to block unlawful labor actions.

David clerked after law school for the Honorable Pamela Ann Rymer on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  He graduated Order of the Coif from the UCLA School of Law, where he served as Chief Managing Editor of the UCLA Law Review.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Duke University in physics.


  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BS, Duke University


John Doe v. Private Art Institute - Represent Institute in legal action in which student challenges expulsions for sexual misconduct and has asserted petition for writ of mandate alleging denial of due process.

John Doe v. Private Art Institute - Represent Institute in legal action in which student alleges invasion of privacy torts and alleged breach of contract based on interactions with administration.  Institute has responded with an Anti-SLAPP motion under Cal. Civ. Proc. Code section 425.16.

John Doe 2, 3, 4 v. Private College - Represented College in three separate legal actions in which students challenged their expulsions for sexual assault, and made allegations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Department of Labor Standard Enforcement v. Temple - Represented Temple in meal and rest break lawsuit brought by an agency on behalf of teachers, in which First Amendment "Ministerial Exception" was successfully invoked as a defense.

Tenured Faculty Member v. Community College District – Represent District in arbitration proceedings in which professor challenges his termination, based on Academic Freedom and First Amendment grounds, for his use of sexist and gender-biased statements in class.

Tenured Faculty Member v. Community College District - Represented Community College District in federal court First Amendment lawsuit by the faculty member who claimed the right to use racial epithets in classroom instruction.  Lawsuit settled favorably to District.

Student v. Community College District - Represented Community College District in federal court First Amendment lawsuit by a student who alleged that free speech areas on campus were subject to an unduly restrictive procedures.  Lawsuit settled promptly upon District's decision to implement new free expression procedures.

Batts et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al. (2010) - Successfully defended the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department, Chief William Bratton, and other high-level Police Department command staff in a retaliation action brought by nine police department sergeants who alleged they had suffered adverse employment actions because of their participation in a wage and hour litigation against the City. The Court granted nine separate motions for summary judgment, resulting in a defense victory on all claims.

City of Palmdale, et al. v. Antelope Valley Community College District (2009) - Successfully represented the District in an action instituted by the City of Palmdale and a local resident seeking to invalidate the District Board's action to approve a substantial development project.  The action sought invalidation based on Ralph M. Brown Act violations.

Rathbun v. County of Los Angeles, et al - Successfully represented County and officials in First Amendment retaliation lawsuit brought by Sheriff's deputies.

Channel Islands Logistics adv. Teamsters - Represented logistics companies in successful union elections, and in subsequent unfair labor practice proceedings; obtained relief from NLRB to block union strike as prohibited secondary activity.


Lopez v. Candaele (2010) - The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of trustees and officials of the Los Angeles Community College District in an appeal of a preliminary injunction order issued by the Trial Court.  The Trial Court had precluded the District, on First Amendment grounds, from enforcing a sexual harassment policy which the Plaintiff, a student at the District, claimed chilled his expression of religious views on campus.  The Ninth Circuit issued a published decision ruling that the preliminary injunction was improper because the Plaintiff lacked standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution to challenge the policy.

Crosby v. South Orange Community College District (2009) - The Court of Appeal sustained a trial court ruling that a college could impose reasonable time, place and manner regulations on the use of internet access in a college library.

O'Connor v. City of Desert Hot Springs, et al (2014) - The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a First Amendment retaliation case brought by a police officer under 42 U.S.C. section 1983.

Brumbaugh v. City of Torrance (2013) - The Court of Appeal found for the City in a case involving the fitness hearing of a previously terminated officer, determining that the doctrine of law of the case applied and that the fitness hearing provided to an officer and formulated by City complied with due process.

Petersen Law Firm v. City of Los Angeles (2011) - The Court of Appeal affirmed the grant of a motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the "Anti-SLAPP" statute) in favor of the City and individual defendants in a case challenging investigation of police officers.  The Court decided further that the fee and cost award had to be re-evaluated on remand to determine if it should be higher.  The Court also rejected a First Amendment right to petition challenge to the fee award.


Long Beach Police Officers Association v. City of Long Beach (2014) - Prepared amicus curiae brief for Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association in California Supreme Court case involving rights of media to identify officers in shooting incidents; argued in California Supreme Court on March 4, 2014.

Jones v. Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership (2008) - Prepared an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the League of California Cities in the landmark California Supreme Court case Jones v. Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1158.  In that case, the Court held that under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, individual supervisors cannot be personally liable for retaliation.

Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture (2008) - Prepared an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties for the United States Supreme Court case Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture (2008) 553 U.S. 591, 128 S. Ct. 2146. There, the Court held that public employees cannot challenge employment actions as violating the Equal Protection clause under a "class of one" theory.  Under such a theory, public employees could have argued that the United States Constitution's Equal Protection clause required virtually all employment actions to have a "rational basis."

San Leandro Teachers Ass'n v. Governing Bd. of San Leandro Unified School Dist. - Prepared amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the Association of California School Administrators, the School Employers Association of California, and the California School Boards Association in the California Supreme Court case of San Leandro Teachers Ass'n v. Governing Bd. of San Leandro Unified School Dist. (2009) 46 Cal.4th 822.  In that case, the Court held that teacher mailboxes at the district's schools constituted "equipment" under California Education Code section 7054, which prohibits the use of school district funds, services, supplies or equipment to support or oppose political candidates or ballot measures.  The Court held that the school district could properly prohibit teacher unions from distributing political materials in the teacher mailboxes.  The Court rejected arguments by the appellant teacher unions based on federal and state constitutional free speech principles, statutory construction of section 7054, and unions' limited statutory right of access to the school premises.



  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BS, Duke University

National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA)

National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) Committee on Web Page Legal Resources

California Council of School Attorneys (CCSA)


  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BS, Duke University

Selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers 2004


  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BS, Duke University

May 19, 2020

US Department of Education Releases Final Title IX Rules

Partner Pilar Morin, Senior Counsel David Urban and Associate Jenny Denny authored an article for Daily Journal discussing new regulations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

May 5, 2020

First Amendment Rights During Coronavirus – New Challenges For Government Agencies

Lawyers at our firm have practiced constitutional law for many years, and the coronavirus pandemic has presented circumstances in this area that many of us probably thought we would never see.  Under normal principles of First Amendment law, speech in a traditional public forum such as a city park has a high level of protection from any interference from the government, regardless of content or viewpoint expressed.  As to religion, under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause, the public has vitally important rights to worship without fear of significant state interference.  The First Amendment also protects the right to “assemble” and the right to association.  All of these are core constitutional rights. For many decades, plaintiffs fought hard in lawsuits alleging even slight violations of these core rights.  These suits can lead to damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees awards against government agencies.

Mar 10, 2020

Government-Hosted Social Media and the First Amendment

This article discusses government-hosted social media, the First Amendment, and a recent Ninth Circuit decision that impacts both.  

To read the full article, please view the Daily Journal's website here

Dec 10, 2019

Preparing Briefs on Appeal

An important part of the litigation practice is appellate law.  One side can win in the trial court – by a motion to dismiss, on summary judgment, or after a jury trial – only to have the result overturned on appeal.  The court of appeal can send the parties back for an entirely new trial, or in some circumstance, it can decide that the party who lost at trial should actually win the case altogether.  Also, the court of appeal can publish its decision, meaning that the decision will serve as binding law for future cases raising the same issues.  Thus, a published appellate decision can have far-reaching effects for the industry or administrative area involved.  In addition, published appellate decisions often draw media attention, thus further raising the stakes.

Aug 26, 2019

California Supreme Court Holds that Law Enforcement Agency May Disclose “Brady List” to Prosecutors Notwithstanding Pitchess Statutes

In a unanimous decision published today, the California Supreme Court held that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) could share with prosecutors the names of deputies on its “Brady list” in particular cases without seeking a court order after a Pitchessmotion.  In particular, Court held that the LASD would not violate Pitchess “by sharing with prosecutors the fact that an officer, who is a potential witness in a pending criminal prosecution, may have relevant exonerating or impeaching material in that officer’s confidential personnel file.”  In so holding, the Court decided a novel question of constitutional and statutory law.  (LCW Partner Geoff Sheldon argued the case in the California Supreme Court on behalf of the prevailing party County of Los Angeles.)

Jun 25, 2019

Does the First Amendment Apply to Public Agency Social Media Platforms? Three Cases Work Toward an Answer

This post was authored by David Urban

Cities, counties, special districts, public educators, and other government entities who invite public comment and contribution on their Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, websites, or other spaces on the internet might face liability for violating the First Amendment if they remove content posted by members of the public or block certain members of the public from participating.  The theory is that such virtual spaces function the same way as physical government spaces like a park reserved for public expression; under well-established principles, the government cannot prevent speech in such areas simply because it disagrees with the message.  Instead, in very general terms, the government must abide by rules it establishes for the forum, which must pass exacting judicial scrutiny.  The rules can include some content-neutral “time, place, and manner” restrictions or rules designed to satisfy sufficiently important interests with a sufficiently minimized impact on those who wish to express themselves in the forum.


  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BS, Duke University

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