Karen Getman


Karen Getman is a founding partner of Olson Remcho LLP, and serves as its first Managing Partner.  She previously was a partner at Remcho, Johansen & Purcell.

Ms. Getman advises government entities and private parties on complex matters of statutory and constitutional interpretation and all aspects of ballot measure drafting, qualification, and challenges.  She advises committees, lobbying firms, public officials and agencies on compliance with reporting and disclosure laws, conflicts of interest and other government ethics laws, open meeting and public record requirements, and use of public funds.  She conducts internal investigations and has served as an expert consultant on conflicts of interest, campaign finance and lobbying requirements. Ms. Getman also advises the California Teachers Association on Proposition 98 (the constitutional school funding guarantee) and other aspects of education funding and policy. She helped draft and defend Propositions 30 (2012) and 55 (2016), which dedicated sales and income tax increases to public school funding.  

Ms. Getman served as Chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission from 1999-2003, and as a member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board from 2003-05.  She was a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley School of Law from 2004-2011, co-teaching the course on Regulating Public Integrity, and was the first Executive in Residence at the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, where she also served as a member of the National Advisory Council.  Ms. Getman previously served on the boards of Women Executives in State Government, Students Run Oakland and Education First Cambodia, and was a member of the Assembly Speaker’s Commission on the California Initiative Process.

Ms. Getman represents clients in public policy and constitutional litigation and all aspects of election disputes.  She was lead counsel in CTA v. Schwarzenegger (2006), which resulted in restoration of billions in school funding, and associate counsel in CTA v. Gould (1996), which also secured billions in K-14 public school funding.

Her recent cases include representing the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties as amici in Vargas v. Salinas, 46 Cal.4th 1 (2009); representing the Superintendent of Public Instruction in California School Board Association v. California State Board of Education, No. C060957, 2010 WL 1692760 (Cal. App. 2010), a successful challenge to state mathematics requirements; representing the California Teachers Association as amicus in California Redevelopment Assn. v. Matosantos, 53 Cal.4th 231 (2011); successfully defending the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Department of Education against a preliminary injunction motion in Cruz v. State (Alameda Superior Ct., 2015); and representing the City of Oakland in its successful defense of Measure Z, the Hotel Minimum Wage and Working Conditions ordinance, in Cal. Hotels & Lodging Ass’n v. City of Oakland, 393 F. Supp. 3d 817 (N.D. Cal. 2019).

Ms. Getman spoke on “Whistleblowers” at the U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy’s Global Leadership Program in 2014 and on “Political Activity and the Board” at the 18th Annual Stanford Directors’ College, and has presented on local campaign finance ordinances and use of public funds at the League of California Cities’ City Attorney conferences.  Her publications include co-authoring with Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan a chapter in Conflict of Interest and Public Life (Cambridge Univ. Press 2008).  She also authored chapters in Win the Right Way (Berkeley Public Policy Press 2005) and California Votes: The 2002 Governor’s Race and the Recall That Made History (Berkeley Public Policy Press 2003).

She received her B.A. with distinction from Yale College in 1980, and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1985, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.  She is admitted to the California Bar and the District of Columbia Bar (not active), and previously was a member of the New York Bar.

Representative Highlights

Results described below were dependent on the facts of that particular case. Prior results do not guarantee or predict similar outcomes.

  • California Redevelopment Association v. Matosantos, 53 Cal. 4th 231 (2011).  Filed amicus curiae brief on behalf of the California Teachers Association in support of the State’s efforts to restructure California’s redevelopment agencies and provide additional funding for California’s public schools. 

  • California School Boards Association v. California State Board of Education, No. C060957, 2010 WL 1692760 (Cal. App. 2010).  Represented the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction in a successful challenge to the State Board of Education’s effort to force schools to comply with an unfunded mandate that all eighth graders take Algebra I.

  • Vargas v. City of Salinas, 46 Cal. 4th 1 (2009).  Filed amicus curiae brief on behalf of the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties in case defending the rights of local governments to expend public funds informing citizens of the effects of upcoming ballot measures.

  • California Teachers Association v. Schwarzenegger, Sacramento County Superior Court, Case No. 05CS01165 (2006).  Represented the California Teachers Association and the Superintendent of Public Instruction in a successful challenge to efforts to reduce education funding far below the amount agreed upon in the 2004-05 budget compromise.  Recovered $3 billion in Proposition 98 funding for schools.


  • Yale College, B.A., with distinction (1980)
  • Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude, Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Women’s Law Journal (1985)


  • California
  • District of Columbia (not active)
  • New York (not active)