The Experience And Acumen Needed To Achieve Results

Declues, Burkett & Thompson, APC, is a law firm that specializes in the representation of public and private entities throughout Huntington Beach, Orange County and the state of California. Our approach to each matter is:

Results-oriented. We focus on the matter at hand, providing effective services for each client's needs. Our attorneys' professional appearance and meticulous preparation give us an edge as assertive, strategic advocates. We are committed to delivering results for our clients.

Cost-effective. We understand the economic realities of legal issues. We offer our high-quality services at a cost-efficient rate to help achieve your organization's goals without sacrificing your bottom line.

Knowledgeable. Our attorneys have extensive experience in the matters we address. We employ our knowledge to the fullest for each client and devote the careful attention your organization demands.

Contact us today if you need legal assistance with any of the following:

  • Public Entity
  • General Civil Litigation
  • Employment Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Charter Schools
  • Business and Commercial Law
    • Contract Disputes/Partnership and Shareholder Disputes
    • Business Litigation

Call today at 714-843-9444 to arrange your initial consultation.

Attorney J. Michael Declues

Mr. Declues is a founding partner of the firm. He received his B.A. in 1972 and his J.D. in 1975, both from the University of Southern California. He was admitted to the California Bar, the U.S. District Courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal that year. Mr. Declues worked from 1975 to 1982 with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, initially in the Criminal Division as a prosecutor and then in the Tort Litigation Section of the Department of Water and Power.

In 1982, he joined a major civil defense firm in Los Angeles where he became a partner in 1984 and opened its Orange County Office in 1985. Under his leadership as managing partner and senior trial counsel, the office grew from two to twenty-two attorneys in seven years, encompassing civil litigation and worker's compensation.

Mr. Declues gained extensive experience in handling primarily complex and potentially large exposure cases, including catastrophic injury, wrongful death, civil rights, sexual molestation, sexual harassment, products liability and construction site accidents. He has tried over seventy-five cases. He is a charter member of the Warren H. Ferguson Inn of Court which is associated with Chapman University School of Law and which emphasizes legal ethics.

In 1996, Mr. Declues and Mr. Burkett established the Orange County Office of the firm.

Attorney Jeffrey A. Smith

Mr. Smith attended Emory University in Atlanta, and the London School of Economics. He received his B.A. in English from Emory University in 1975. He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, and received his J.D. in 1978. He became a member of the Florida Bar in 1979 and the California Bar in 1980. He was admitted to practice before the United States District Court, Central District of California, in 1982.

Since the early 1980's, Mr. Smith has both handled and tried complex and high level cases in a variety of fields. His litigation experience includes extensive products liability defense work for numerous nationwide corporate manufacturers, and trial work in the fields of land subsidence, personal injury, public entity issues, insurance coverage, and subrogation. He has also defended Student Rights and First Amendment cases. His work in the public entity area has also included the defense of sexual molestation and wrongful death cases. He has represented several private companies, and has handled and tried cases involving transportation, building/ grounds maintenance, and water rights. Mr. Smith has taught legal courses at the college level.

In 1986, Mr. Smith joined a major civil defense firm, becoming a partner in that firm with Mr. Declues and Mr. Burkett and handled complex cases for both private and public clients while engaged in helping to direct a statewide firm.

Mr. Smith is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, an organization of experienced trial lawyers dedicated to the promotion of civility, integrity and professionalism in trial advocacy. He is also a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel.

Attorney Steven J. Lowery

Bar Admissions:

  • California, 1993


  • Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, California
    • J.D. - 1993
    • Honors: Dean's List, 1991-1992
    • Law Review: Law Review, 1991 - 1993
  • California State University, Long Beach, California, USA
    • B.S. - 1989

Professional Memberships and Achievements:

  • Orange Bar Association, Member
  • Orange County Bar Association, Member, Tax Section

Attorney Jeffrey P. Thompson

Mr. Thompson is Managing Partner and heads Declues, Burkett & Thompson's Labor and Employment Law Department. He received his B.A. in Economics and International Relations from Claremont McKenna College in 1983 and his J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 1988. Mr. Thompson was admitted to the California Bar that year and has practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment law.

In 1996, Mr. Thompson left a national employment law firm to join the firm at its inception. His practice focuses on representing private employers and public entities in all aspects of labor and employment law with particular emphasis on employment-related litigation. He also advises clients with respect to employment-related issues.

Mr. Thompson is a frequent lecturer and instructor on labor and employment issues for various business and governmental groups and has authored a manual entitled "Defending Wrongful Discharge Claims Under California Law" for the National Business Institute. Mr. Thompson also conducts seminars for various business associations, public entity groups, and clients.

Attorney Cary K. Quan


Mr. Quan received his B.S. in Accounting from California State University at Northridge in 1980 and his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law in 1987. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1987.

Mr. Quan practices in the areas of insurance defense and business litigation.



Attorney Patricia A. Lynch


Ms. Lynch received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1977 and her J.D. from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific in 1981. In December, 1981, she was admitted to the California Bar. She is also admitted to the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Lynch's legal career began in insurance defense. She had a solo practice consisting of civil litigation and criminal law while serving as house counsel to a commercial building contractor. She joined the firm in 1996. Ms. Lynch practices in the areas of personal injury defense, childhood sexual abuse, charter schools, insurance defense, public entity defense, civil rights defense and construction litigation.


Attorney  Jennifer K. Berneking


Ms. Berneking received her B.A., Cum Laude, in Political Science from Wellesley College in 1990 and her J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1993. Prior to being admitted to the California Bar in 1993, she served as a law clerk in the Los Angeles office of the United States Attorney Organized Crime Strike Force.

Ms. Berneking has practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment law since being admitted to the California Bar. Ms. Berneking is also admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Central and Eastern Districts of California.


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