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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.

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.

HENRIK KARAPETIAN

EDUCATION

HENRIK KARAPETIAN completed his undergraduate education at California State University, Northridge, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Law. Mr. Karapetian received his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of California shortly after. He is a member of the American and Los Angeles County Bar Associations.

BACKGROUND

After admitted to the Bar, Mr. Karapetian started his own litigation practice, specializing in all types of injury cases. He has represented clients in a variety of different claims and gained experience handling request for orders, emergency motions, depositions and trials.
In 2012, Mr. Karapetian was an associate at a large Workers Compensation Defense firm where he defended insurance companies and self-insured employers in all phases of litigation. He joined Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown in 2016 and has continued to zealously defend insurance companies. He is well versed in court appearances, having handled numerous status conferences, mandatory settlements conferences, priority conferences and expedited hearings. Through his extensive litigation experience, Mr. Karapetian has adapted an aggressive and effective litigation style that has helped him achieve favorable results for his clients. Mr. Karapetian works diligently to maintain strong relationships with his clients, placing their goals and needs as his primary focus.

We are pleased to have Mr. Karapetian as an attorney in our Burbank office.

GENA C. STRATEGOS

EDUCATION

GENA C. STRATEGOS completed her undergraduate education at the University of Southern California where she received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with an emphasis in Strategic Studies. She continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from the USC Law Center and was admitted to the California State Bar immediately following. Ms. Strategos was admitted to the California 9th District Court of Appeals in 1989 and is a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Strategos began her career in Workers’ Compensation as a partner of a small defense firm representing large self-insured companies and municipalities. In this role, she gained experience handling client meetings, cross examining AMEs, doctors and raters, and appearing at trial. Her strong performance resulted in an increase in case load and level of service with major self-insured clients for the firm.

Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown, Ms. Strategos was a partner at a large Workers’ Compensation Defense Firm. In addition to managing a large case load, Ms. Strategos was also in charge of training new attorneys for the firm. Some of her biggest accomplishments in this position were an Answer to Writ to the Supreme Court and an Arbitration which included a win against the California Insurance Guarantee Association. Over the years, Ms. Strategos has become an expert in the areas of depositions, arbitrations, appellate briefs, cross examinations and trials. She has achieved remarkable success in all phases of litigation and has received many take nothing awards. Ms. Strategos has over 25 years of experience representing employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators making her an asset to our firm.

We are pleased to have Ms. Strategos as an associate in our Long Beach office.

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