{ }

JESSICA LEE

EDUCATION

Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from University of California, Los Angeles. She then obtained Juris Doctor from University of La Verne, College of Law and was admitted to California State Bar that same year.

BACKGROUND

During law school, Jessica interned at California Department of Justice, Business and Tax Section.  Since passing the California State Bar, She gained experience in handling Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Immigration Law, and DUI cases.

Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP in May of 2022, Jessica represented mostly plaintiffs and applicants. Because she has experience on both sides, she is more equipped to resolve cases expeditiously and aggressively.

Jessica is an Associate in our Newport Beach office.

GEORGE JONES

EDUCATION 

GEORGE JONES received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii in 1980 and his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco in 1992, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the USF Maritime Law Journal.  George was admitted to the California Bar in 1992.  

BACKGROUND  

George Jones has been practicing maritime law for over 25 years in the Long Beach/Los Angeles area and has significant experience litigating a wide variety of maritime claims including Jones Act, USL&H/DBA, cargo, vessel liability and general insurance claims. 

Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, George served as Vice-President of one of the nation’s premier maritime adjusting firms. Prior to that, George managed his own law firm, Jones Maritime Law, APC, which specialized in maritime personal injury litigation, including Jones Act, USL&H and DBA matters. George is licensed to practice law in all state and federal courts in California. He is a Proctor of Admiralty Member of the Maritime Law Association of the US. George is also A/V Preeminent rated by Martindale Hubbell, the highest independent, peer review rating awarded for excellence in both competency and ethics. 

FRANCIS FERNANDEZ

EDUCATION

Francis Fernandez obtained his Juris Doctor from Pacific Coast University, School of Law in Long Beach, CA. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2021.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Fernandez started working as a File Clerk in our Newport Beach office over a decade ago. He then served as the Firm’s Calendar Clerk and the Supervisor for the Newport Beach front office. Mr. Fernandez was eager to further his legal career and he began attending law school at night while working full time.

While attending law school, he transitioned from the Firm’s Calendar Clerk to a Hearing Representative. Over the last few years, Mr. Fernandez has been training attending/observing deposition/court appearances and analyzing legal cases under Attorney supervision. During this time, he gained extensive knowledge in defending cases aggressively, and bringing cases to a cost effective and expeditious resolution.

Mr. Fernandez is an Associate in our Newport Beach office.

SEVAN ZULIKYAN

EDUCATION

Sevan Zulikyan completed his undergraduate education at California State University, Long Beach, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. He was the recipient of the Political Science Alumni Scholarship in 1999.  Mr. Zulikyan earned his Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School where he was awarded with a Cali Excellence Award in Professional Responsibility Practicum Skills.

BACKGROUND

While in law school Mr. Zulikyan volunteered as a Street Law Instructor teaching constitutional law, criminal law, and criminal procedure issues to at-risk high school students in Orange County.

Since passing the California State Bar, Mr. Zulikyan worked for seven years handling civil litigation/construction defect/general liability claims. He comes to the firm of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP., with nearly seven years of valuable experience handling workers’ compensation claims where he has represented numerous insurance carriers, third party administrators, and self insured entities.

Mr. Zulikyan has appeared before and has gained valuable insight of the Southern California Workers Compensation Appeals Boards and judges. Mr. Zulikyan’s experience in civil litigation has prepared him with an attention to detail when taking Applicant’s depositions, including the mastery of early settlement of claims. 

Mr. Zulikyan is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society.  He is a sports fan and a past A.Y.S.O. Region 41 board member.

Mr. Zulikyan is an Attorney at the Newport Beach Office.

MARIA XIMENA ZIMERI FERNANDEZ

EDUCATION

Maria Ximena Zimeri Fernandez went to Law School in Guatemala. She completed her undergraduate education in one of the best universities in Central America (“Universidad Francisco Marroquin”) she received her Juris Doctor Degree and graduated Cum Laude. She passed the bar in Guatemala and was admitted to practice law in 2018 as an Attorney and Notary Public.

After completing her undergraduate education, she completed her master’s degree and obtained an LLM in Pepperdine University in Commercial Law and International Arbitration. She passed the California Bar Examination in July 2019 and was admitted to the California Bar immediately following.

BACKGROUND

When Maria Ximena was in Law School, she worked as a law clerk and paralegal for three years in Carrillo & Associates, a prominent law firm in Guatemala, and developed great organization, communication, research, and analytical skills. She worked in the area of civil litigation but participated in various cases involving arbitration, employment law, constitutional law, and commercial law.

She participated in a National Arbitration moot organized by the Dispute Resolution Commission of Guatemala’s Industry Chamber and published her thesis related to the corporate governance of a private corporation and the legal action against the board of directors of a company established in Guatemala.

RECOGNITIONS

· Cum Laude, Universidad Francisco Marroquin
· Half Straus Merit Scholarship for the LL.M Program in Pepperdine University
· CALI Excellence Award For the Future Award in the study of Legal Research and Writing
· First Place for writing the best pleading and complaint in the 2016 National Arbitration moot organized by the Dispute Resolution Commission of Guatemala’s Industry Chamber

LANGUAGES

Maria Ximena is fluent in Spanish and in English.

Liliana Gonzalez

EDUCATION

Liliana Gonzalez is certified in Workers’ Compensation Claims Administration (WCCA) and is a certified Claims Professional.  She is also certified by WorkComp Central as a Hearing Representative and Lien Representative.  She continues to enroll in ongoing educational programs in the industry. Ms. Gonzalez plans to further her education in the insurance industry and will enroll in law school in 2020. 

BACKGROUND

Ms. Gonzalez has over twenty years of experience working in California workers’ compensation. She has worked both state and federal (Longshore) workers’ compensation cases, including subrogation.  She has worked extensively on the defense side of claims since 2003, when she worked for Hazelrigg Risk Management Services.  Since then, she has worked exclusively for large workers’ compensation defense firms, serving a multitude of both insured and self-insured employers.

Ms. Gonzalez has obtained extensive knowledge in lien litigation. She has a command of the unique requirements of Non-IBR disputes and has successfully litigated liens. She understands the importance of ensuring the client understands the cost vs benefit litigation so that a fully informed decision can be made.

As a proud grandmother, Ms. Gonzalez enjoys spending her free time with her family. She is a music lover and enjoys attending live music events with friends.

Ms. Gonzalez is a Hearing Representative in the San Diego office.



SARAH O’CONNOR

EDUCATION

SARAH O’CONNOR obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Pacific Coast University, School of Law in Long Beach and was the valedictorian of her class. Sarah was admitted to the State Bar of California the same year she graduated.

BACKGROUND

Sarah began her career in the workers’ compensation defense field in 1996. She comes from a workers’ compensation defense family. Her father was a workers’ compensation defense attorney for over 35 years and her mother is a nurse case manager. Sarah started as a file clerk in her father’s law firm and eventually worked her way up to paralegal. Once her father became a sole practitioner, Sarah continued in her paralegal duties, which included extensive legal research, and also maintained client relationships.

After her father’s passing, Sarah continued her career as a workers’ compensation defense paralegal. She began working at Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP with 16 years of experience. Her extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation, with an emphasis on the defense side, made Sarah an asset to our firm. She was eager to further her career and began attending law school at night while working full time.

While attending law school, Sarah transitioned from paralegal to hearing representative. She specialized in pro per settlements and focused on obtaining settlement approvals on an expedited basis. During this time, she gained further knowledge of the workers’ compensation laws of California.

Sarah’s vast experience in the workers’ compensation defense industry allows her to provide an aggressive defense of claims. She strives for early resolution of claims to avoid further litigation costs, yet carefully analyzes each claim to obtain the most favorable outcome for the client.

Sarah is an associate in our Newport Beach office.

KEVIN KOTTKE

EDUCATION

KEVIN J. KOTTKE obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2012. He received his Juris Doctorate from Pacific Coast University School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar that same year.

BACKGROUND

Kevin Kottke started his legal career as a part-time file clerk with the law offices of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP, in 2009, while attending the University of Colorado, Boulder. He later transitioned to the lien department negotiating complex liens while resolving them in an expeditious and cost-efficient manner. After graduation from the University of Colorado, Boulder, he became a hearing representative with the firm, specializing in the area of in pro per settlements. Mr. Kottke continued to work full-time at the law offices of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP, while attending Pacific Coast University School of Law part-time. After graduating from law school, he was admitted to the California Bar that same year.

Kevin Kottke’s extensive experience from being with Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP, has enabled him to be successful in the outcome of intricate cases while addressing the needs of clients.

MUAATH E. ALI

EDUCATION

MUAATH E. ALI completed his undergraduate education at California State University, Los Angeles, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Mr. Ali received his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University, College of Law. While in law school, Mr. Ali received the highest grade in his negotiations course.

BACKGROUND

Muaath Eric Ali is an attorney at the Newport Beach office. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Ali gained a wide range of experience defending insurance companies and representing injured persons. This experience has culminated in his ability to expedite case resolution through the use of aggressive negotiation skills and the development of relationships with applicant’s attorneys. Mr. Ali’s case handling has had a direct impact on his clients, saving costs while effectively bringing claims to resolution.

Mr. Ali has clerked for two judges, worked for the California Department of Justice in the Business & Tax Section, and worked in the Business Administration & Development Department of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He is the past Director of Operations for The Learning Curve, a non-profit organization devoted to helping underprivileged children achieve their educational goals. He has been an invited speaker at multiple colleges and a mentor at California State University, Los Angeles, speaking to minority students about the value of an education. He credits his commitment to community and work ethic to his father.

Mr. Ali has experience representing a wide breadth of employers, insurance carriers and third party administrators.

ERICA PHAN

EDUCATION

ERICA PHAN completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics with minors in Accounting and African American Studies. She continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law. During her time at Pepperdine, Ms. Phan was a recipient of the Kimberly Dawn Ellis and completed a study abroad program in London where she held a Criminal Defense externship and focused her studies on corporations, international commercial arbitration and federal taxation.

BACKGROUND

After being admitted to the State Bar of California, Ms. Phan began her practice in civil litigation specializing in the areas of complex commercial and insurance coverage litigation, products liability and contracts. She gained experience in all phases of litigation including trial preparation, court appearances and settlement negotiations.
In 2012, Ms. Phan transitioned her focus to Workers’ Compensation defense and has practiced exclusively since. She excels in aggressively defending files while expediting closure through trials and settlements. Ms. Phan is well versed in all phases of litigation, including case in chief, lien resolution, and contribution and has received many favorable outcomes including several Take Nothings. Ms. Phan became a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation in 2017.

We are pleased to have Ms. Phan as a Partner in our Newport Beach office.

Sidebar