Skip to content Debra Ellwood Meppen


Los Angeles
633 West Fifth Street
52nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Ventura County
1000 Town Center Drive
Suite 300
Oxnard, CA 93036

5 Park Plaza
Suite 1100
Irvine, CA 92614

San Diego
101 W. Broadway
Suite 2000
San Diego, CA 92101


J.D., Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles

B.A., Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara


500 Leading Corporate Employment Lawyers | 2024

Employment & Discrimination Law Trailblazer | 2023
The National Law Journal

Top 100 Lawyers | 2023
Los Angeles Business Journal

Labor & Employment Star | 2023
Benchmark Litigation

Women of Influence | 2021
Los Angeles Business Journal

California Top Labor and Employment Lawyer | July 2014
Daily Journal

Top Rated Lawyer-AV® Preeminent™

San Diego Top Lawyers | 2013
San Diego Magazine

Super Lawyers® Rising Stars distinction in the fields Civil Litigation Defense, Employment Litigation-Defense, and Employment & Labor | 2007-2009

Judicial Internship

State Senator Gary K. Hart


Debra Ellwood Meppen is a litigation Partner and serves as Chair of the firm's national Employment Law practice group. She also leads the firm's Women's Initiative, the firm-wide women's organization developed to support and encourage female attorneys on leadership and professional growth. 

Debra is regarded as one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets. Hollywood producers, directors, movie and television studio executives, talent, and the agents who manage them have her on speed dial when they need someone to handle sticky and explosive cases that could threaten a movie release or a concert tour. She not only brings decades of experience in entertainment law, litigation, and negotiation skills to her practice but also approaches each matter with the utmost discretion. The majority, if not all, of her successful outcomes never make headlines.

Her tenacious style of litigating, her honed creative negotiation skills, and her unparalleled level of personal attention to her clients’ needs leads to countless successful outcomes and extremely satisfied clients.

Debra represents employers, management, and talent in employment matters, appearing in both state and federal courts as well as administrative settings before the DFEH, EEOC, DLSE, and OSHA. In her active employment practice, she defends private and public entities and individuals against discrimination, retaliation, FMLA, wrongful termination, defamation, and harassment claims. Her employment practice encompasses numerous industries including entertainment, hospitality, health care, retail, religious entities, and education. In addition, Debra has handled and is currently handling large-scale PAGA and wage and hour class action litigation throughout California. She has tried numerous cases to successful verdict. 

She also regularly counsels employers on hiring practices, terminations, workplace investigations, reductions in workforce issues, risk, and litigation avoidance practices. Her counseling work further includes negotiating separation and executive employment agreements, as well as industry-specific employment handbooks, policies, and procedures.

Debra is a nationally sought-after speaker who is called upon regularly to present on topics such as recent developments in employment law, cutting-edge settlement techniques, and women’s issues.

She is actively involved in the firm's Diversity Committee and chairs the firm’s National Legal Education Conference planning team. She is a Co-Chair of GRSM’s Leadership Equality and Diversity Program (LEAD), which was developed to achieve the firm’s objectives in areas of diversity and inclusion.


  • California
  • U.S. District Courts, Central, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Districts of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit


  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Women Lawyers of Los Angeles Association, Legislation Committee
  • California Women's Lawyers Association
  • National Women's Political Caucus
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • National Association of Professional Women

Community Involvement

  • Stand with Us, International Board
  • AIPAC, AIPAC Valley Executive Committee
  • Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, Board of Trustees, 2019-Present
  • Los Angeles Superior Court, Settlement Officer
  • UCLA, Operation Mend, 2010-Present
  • Valley Beth Shalom Day School, Board of Trustees, Legal Vice President, 2009-2013
  • Bet Tzedek’s Justice Ball, Fund Raising Committee
  • Imagine LA, Volunteer
  • L.A. Family Housing, Volunteer
  • Los Angeles Food Bank, Volunteer
Publications & Presentations