Elyse W. Whitehead

As part of her employment practice, Elyse counsels clients regarding compliance with federal, state and local employment laws.  Her advisory practice includes working with clients to implement proactive, forward-thinking systems and policies geared toward preventing issues down the road, providing interactive and engaging training on key areas of employment law, and collaborating on practical solutions to an array of personnel and employment issues relating to hiring, performance, complaints, terminations and the like.

Elyse Whitehead regularly defends employers in federal and state court, regulatory and arbitral forums regarding claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation (including whistleblowing), wrongful termination, defamation, tortious interference, breach of contract, unfair competition, and wage and hour violations.

In her securities litigation practice, Elyse defends banks and financial services firms in judicial, arbitration and class proceedings involving claims for unsuitable investments, unauthorized transfers, fraud, negligence, violation of federal and state securities laws, violation of NASD and NYSE and FINRA rules, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.  Elyse also defends claims alleging the aiding and abetting of criminal activities (e.g., money laundering, fraudulent wire transfers, and Ponzi schemes).

Elyse joined Keesal, Young & Logan in its San Francisco office in 2010.


  • J.D. (magna cum laude), University of California, Hastings College of the Law (2010) (top 2% of class).  While in law school, Elyse was a member of the Hastings Law Journal and was elected to the Order of the Coif; Thurston Society.
  • B.A. (with highest honors) (psychology and American studies), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007 – Dean’s List).

Bar Memberships/Admissions

  • California (2010)
  • All United States District Courts in California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Motion to dismiss granted after seven days of hearing in whistleblower retaliation and defamation case seeking damages of over $7 million.
  • Motion to dismiss granted after the conclusion of Claimants’ case in chief in FINRA arbitration, in which Claimants alleged breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty, fraud and other claims and sought damages exceeding $7.89 million (June 8, 2018).
  • Motion for summary judgment granted in California Superior Court case involving allegations of sexual harassment (hostile work environment), failure to prevent harassment, retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment & Housing Act, retaliation in violation of California Labor Code section 1102.5, and wrongful termination (August 22, 2017).
  • Yamauchi v. Cotterman, 84 F. Supp. 3d 993 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 24, 2015) (motion to dismiss plaintiff’s ERISA claims granted in a published decision).
  • Defense award in FINRA arbitration involving claims for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and failure to supervise (May 21, 2014).
  • Rikuo Kotsu Co., Ltd. v. Carlsmith Ball, LLP, 2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 6757 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013) (demurrer to legal malpractice claim affirmed on appeal in an unpublished decision).
  • Lawyer Limelight: Elyse Whitehead (linked here) (December 16, 2018), Lawdragon
  • Selected to Northern California Women’s Edition Rising Star List (Thomson Reuters) (2019) (a designation limited to 2.5% of attorneys in a geographic region)
  • Selected to Northern California Rising Star List (Thomson Reuters) (2013–Present) (a designation limited to 2.5% of attorneys in a geographic region)
  • Hastings Law Journal Student Mentor – Elyse participates in the Law Journal’s mentorship program, which pairs Journal alumni with current Journal members (2018).
  • WILpower Ring Leader – Elyse has remained involved in WILpower following her completion of the program.  As a Ring Leader, she facilitates group discussions among current WILpower participants focused on developing strategies and tactics to advance their careers and leadership opportunities (2018).
  • WILpower Participant – WILpower is a year-long career and leadership development program facilitated by Leading Women in Technology (“LWT”), a top organization for women’s professional development and advancement.  The program includes interactive workshops led by thought leaders in their respective fields and focused on impact communication, negotiation, goals-setting, and related topics (2018).