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RISA S. CHIRISTENSEN

PARTNER

Risa S Christensen

Risa Christensen was admitted to the State Bar of California in December 2003. Her work with Wagner Zemming Christensen (formerly Wagner & Pelayes) includes working with municipalities in the defense of their various departments in civil lawsuits such as Sheriff’s Department excessive force and unlawful arrest lawsuits, employment, FEHA, and labor code violations. She has successfully defended the County of San Bernardino, County of Orange, City of San Bernardino, City of Beaumont, and numerous judges of the superior court. Risa is well versed in law and motion practice before all courts and is specialized in civil rights and public entity defense. Risa has an outstanding record of law and motion practice in the state and federal courtsPrior to joining the law firm, Risa worked as a Staff Attorney for the California Department of Social Services, where she represented the Department in enforcement actions and administrative hearings to protect clients in assisted living facilities, day care facilities, foster care, group homes, and other community care facilities.

Before becoming an attorney, Risa worked as a Licensing Program Analyst for the Department of Social Services in connection with the licensing and monitoring of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly and conducted investigations of complaints against assisted living facilities and foster homes. She also served as a member of the C.A.R.E. team, a Riverside County based interdisciplinary group advocating against elder abuse.

Risa also has extensive experience in mental health services. From 1977 to 1997, she worked as a licensed Psychiatric Technician at several facilities, assisting troubled and disabled children and persons with developmental disabilities, as well as developing and implementing multiple behavior and social programs.

Risa is currently a member of the California State Bar, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, Riverside County Bar Association and the Inland Empire Federal Bar Association.

EXPERIENCE

Partner – Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP
(November 1, 2019 to Present)
Responsible for working with municipalities in the defense of various departments in civil lawsuit such as dangerous condition of public property, motor vehicle accidents, Sheriff’s Department federal and state law lawsuits including, but not limited to, excessive force, unlawful arrest lawsuits, employment, FEHA, and labor code violations.

Senior Associate – Wagner & Pelayes, LLP
(November 2007 to October 31, 2019)
Responsible for working with municipalities in the defense of various departments such as Sheriff’s Department and Department of Children and Family Services and Public Works Department and the Administrative Office of the State of California Courts. Representation of public entities and public employees in lawsuits alleging law enforcement excessive force, unlawful arrest, jail and detention center conditions of confinement, unlawful detention of minors, motor vehicle accidents, dangerous condition of public property, employment, FEHA, and labor code violations.

California Department of Social Services – Staff Attorney
(September 2006 to November 2007)
Responsibilities included representing the Department in enforcement actions and administrative hearings.

Associate – Wagner & Pelayes, LLP
(February 2005 to September 2006)
Responsible for working with municipalities in the defense of various departments in civil lawsuit such as Sheriff’s Department excessive force and unlawful arrest lawsuits, employment, FEHA, and labor code violations.

California Department of Social Services – Staff Attorney
(December 2003 to February 2005)
Responsibilities included representing the Department in enforcement actions and administrative hearings.

Department of Social Services – Legal Analyst
(June 2003 to December 2003)
Responsibilities included assisting attorneys with the management of cases, revising and organizing records pertinent to the present cases, and case law research.

Department of Social Services – Licensing Program Analyst
(September 1997 to June 2003)
Responsibilities included conducting investigations of complaints against assisted living facilities and foster homes as well as monitoring Residential Care Facilities for the elderly to ensure compliance with licensing.

Member of the C.A.R.E. team, an interdisciplinary group that advocates against elder abuse and is based in Riverside County.

Licensed Psychiatric Technician – Various Facilities
(1977 to 1997)
Responsibilities included assisting troubled and disabled children and persons with developmental disabilities. Developed and implemented behavior and social programs.

EDUCATION

1999-2003 California Southern Law School
Riverside, CA
Juris Doctorate

BAR MEMBERSHIPS

  • 2003 – California State Bar
  • 2009 – Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal
  • 2003 – United States District Court, Central District of California

BAR ASSOCIATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS

  • 2005 – Present Riverside County Bar Association
  • 2003 – Present Inland Empire Federal Bar Association

ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • Water of Life Community Church – Shepherd’s Staff Caregiver/Lay Counselor. From 2015-2017.
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