Kalpana Kotagal


Partner, Cohen Milstein


Kalpana Kotagal is a Partner at Cohen Milstein, a member of the firm’s Civil Rights & Employment practice group, and Chair of the firm’s Hiring and Diversity Committee. 

Ms. Kotagal is co-author of the "Inclusion Rider," referenced by Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand in her 2018 Best Actress acceptance speech.  Ms. Kotagal is working on this project in collaboration with Dr. Stacy Smith of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni of Pearl Street Films.  Together they are working to help transform the hiring practices in the film and television industry.  Ms. Kotagal is also currently serving as an advisor to noted filmmakers on a film addressing issues of gender pay disparities.

Other current, high-profile cases include:

  • Jock, et al. v Sterling Jewelers Inc.: Ms. Kotagal represents female sales employees in a Title VII and Equal Pay Act case against one of the nation's largest jewelry chains. Her clients have alleged a pattern of sex discrimination in compensation and promotions. 
  • Hills, et al. v. AT&T Mobility Services LLC: Ms. Kotagal represents former female sales employees in a putative class action against AT&T, alleging violations of the Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act

Ms. Kotagal also played an instrumental role in representing Wal-Mart employees in the landmark Supreme Court case, Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a case addressing the standards for class certification.

In 2018, Ms. Kotagal was selected as a Harvard Law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow (2018-2019), won the Chambers Women in Law: USA 2018, “Outstanding Contribution to the Community in Advancing Diversity” Award, and was named a 2018 National Law Journal “Elite Women of the Plaintiffs Bar” finalist. Ms. Kotagal was also honored to be the commencement speaker at the University of California, Irvine School of Law 2018 commencement. In 2017, Ms. Kotagal was named a Law360 “Rising Star,” recognizing lawyers under 40 whose professional accomplishments transcend their age.

Prior to joining Cohen Milstein, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Betty Binns Fletcher of United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Ms. Kotagal attended Stanford University, where she was a Morris K. Udall Scholar and graduated with honors.  She earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a James Wilson Fellow.  Ms. Kotagal was Articles Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.


Current Courses:

The Inclusion Rider and Other Strategies for Advancing Equity in the Workplace