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Cases We’ve Handled –
Cases We Are Handling

Since 1989 we estimate we have been contacted by 15,000-20,000 people with attorney conduct problems, consulted formally on perhaps 5,000 matters and have actually represented clients on approximately 500 cases through final resolution.  We’ve selected a group of 58 cases to give you an idea of the types of disputes we’ve handled.  They are shown below in a sortable, Excel table.  The cases, listed on three separate pages, can be viewed by the type of dispute, the area of law involved, the result, location, year and a brief summary.  For selected cases, we’ve provided a link to a more detailed description of the dispute.

Cases We Don’t Handle

We are very selective about the cases we accept, because legal malpractice claims are complex and expensive. Even though we are a small firm, we represent clients with complex malpractice claims involving a wide variety of legal fields and against the largest law firms. However, we rarely accept family law and divorce malpractice cases. And, we do not take on malpractice cases involving criminal law, worker’s compensation law, small bankruptcy matters and loan foreclosures. While many malpractice claims involving these areas of law have merit, we do not handle them.


Our Cases
#Type of DisputeArea of Law InvolvedYearLocationOutcomeSummary of the CaseDetails
1Legal MalpracticeSecuritiesCurrently PendingSan Francisco, CaliforniaPendingHedge fund sues large East Coast firm for failing to properly cite "winning case" to Court on motion for summary judgment. Court rules against client who must disgorge approximately $5,000,0000 in profits. Court refuses to consider case on a motion for reconsideration because it was cited "too late". Court of appeals refuses to reverse. Clients' loss is approximately $5,000,000.
2Legal MalpracticeReal Estate; Trusts;Currently PendingSan Francisco, California (in binding arbitration)PendingSmall San Francisco firm was successful in representing client (real estate investment group) in an arbitration to recover damages for breach of a contract to sale commercial property. Lawyers failed to properly name defendant in converting arbitration award into an enforceable judgment. Client loses $2,000,000+ in damages it had won.
3Legal MalpracticeReal EstateCurrently PendingLos Angeles, CaliforniaPendingSimple boundary dispute between adjacent homeowners turns into legal nightmare for client who fails to get proper representation in trial by two separate law firms. Client gets hit with multi-million dollar judgment (which is eventually paid) when case could have been avoided altogether, or at least settled for fraction of the damages client was hit with.
4Legal Malpractice; Breach of Fiduciary DutyTrade secret theft; real propertyCurrently PendingSanta Clara, CaliforniaPendingSuccessful entrepreneur sues former lawyer and real estate broker for serious ethical violations involving millions in lost property and profits from business
5Fee DisputeIntellectual Property; Trade SecretsCurrently PendingSan Francisco, CaliforniaPendingForeign (Asia) based entrepreneur sues national law firm for ethics violations and over billing. Law firm used out of state attorneys, not licensed in California for clients case. Matter was grossly over billed and mishandled.
6Legal malpractice; ethics violation (conflict of interest)Construction lawCurrently PendingNorthern CaliforniaPendingLarge construction company suing its former attorney for serious mishandling of termination of a sub-contractor, and later mishandling of the arbitration. Because of improper termination of the sub-contractor by the attorney, client was deprived of upwards of $7,000,000 in damages.
7Legal malpracticeContracts and intellectual propertyCurrently PendingNorthern CaliforniaPendingLawyer mishandled the negotiations for royalty fees resulting in unnecessary six-figure loss to radio station.
8Legal malpracticeConstruction defect litigationCurrently PendingNorthern CaliforniaPendingCalifornia wine country hotel owner sues two former lawyers for badly handling a construction defect case. Lawyers brought action against multiple defendants but ended up settling with and then dismissing the only defendant with whom hotel owner had a direct contract relationship. Attorneys won trial against the culpable sub-contractor, but significant six figure award was set aside because claim of the general contractor was not assigned to hotel owner (as part of settlement). Judgment set aside because hotel owner did not have direct contract with sub-contractor.
9Legal malpractice; ethics violation (conflict of interest)Trust & EstatesCurrently PendingSan Francisco, CaliforniaPendingDivorced husband suing former attorney who negligently set up estate plan for husband and former wife which wrongfully transmuted several million dollars of husband's separate property assets into community assets. Husband went through arbitration to correct error of attorney (when wife refused to agree) incurring $1.5M in damages and attorneys fees.
10Legal malpracticeProduct LiabilityCurrently PendingSouthern CaliforniaPendingLaw firm lost young woman's valuable product liability claim as a result of naming the wrong manufacturer of her pain pump. By the time law firm discovered its mistake, real manufacturer had sold its business and its insurance coverage had been depleted by prior claims. Had her claim been timely filed against correct manufacturer, client would have had access to substantial insurance coverage. Client had to accept tiny settlement when the value of her claim was potentially in the millions.
11Fee DisputeSale of Business2012Northern CaliforniaConfidential settlement in favor of client.This was a dispute over a multi-million dollar fee generated by attorneys, who in the course of demanding an outrageous and improperly calculated fee, breached numerous ethical and fiduciary duties to their clients. The case was bitterly fought among two law firms and the clients which was ultimately resolved by a settlement in the client's favor.
12Legal malpracticeMedical Malpractice 2012Northern CaliforniaJury verdict of $520,000.A very interesting legal malpractice case arising out of a medical malpractice case. We represented a well respected physician who was represented by a lawyer in a medical malpractice case. The underlying case was settled with the doctor's patient, but doctor's lawyer was negligent in post-settlement procedures resulting in an unusual disciplinary action being filed by the California Medical Board against the doctor which ultimately caused an unfavorable comment to be made against doctor's record on medical board's website. Doctor contended that medical board's comment impacted his reputation and earnings. Case went through a two week jury trial entirely in favor of doctor.
13Fee Dispute; ethics violationsWrongful Termination2012Northern CaliforniaConfidential settlement.This was one of the most egregious cases of ethics violations arising out multiple incidents of wrongdoing by an attorney in connection with, and following the settlement of his client's employment/wrongful termination claim. The settlement involved the client recovering everything she was entitled to (and more) from the attorney. While the names of the parties must remain confidential per the settlement, the case particulars are well worth describing.Read More
14Legal malpracticeTaxation2012Out of State Client; California based law firmConfidential settlement; no suit filed.East Coast based company being acquired by another company was given bad advice regarding tax treatment for approximately 20 shareholders resulting in total of $800,000+ in increased personal taxes to the shareholders. Interesting issue involving whether law firm had any duty to the individual shareholders.
15Fee dispute Disability Benefits2012Los Angeles, California3 day court trial resulting in full victory for our client and an appeal upholding our client's win.Fee dispute involving a Southern California solo practitioner for charging and collecting an unconscionable fee for minimal work on a claim for disability benefits. The demand for unconscionable fees, coupled with a fee agreement containing an illegal provision, resulted in the client paying the firm's exorbitant fees out of the client's disability insurance benefits over a six year period. The firm also misled the client into believing that certain fees would be waived, while collecting the purportedly waived fees. The case was complex, hard-fought, and involved such thorny legal issues as an attorney's duties to a client regarding the retainer agreement. One of the most bitterly contested cases we've ever handled, but one of our most satisfying wins.Read More
16Fee DisputeIntellectual property2012Northern CaliforniaUltra confidential settlement at a fraction of the fees being claimed by law firm.Another egregious billing case involving patent litigation. We represented a mid-size company that was sued for copyright infringement by a predator company. The client was billed in excess of $1,400,000 when a proper evaluation of the case early on, as well as a realistic litigation budget would have revealed that the case was 50/50 at best, and could be resolved at its inception for a fraction of the cost of a fully litigated case. The problem with this, and other quite similar cases, is that the law firm oversells their ability to win, and underestimates the expense of the litigation. The fees in this case turned out to be 4 times the estimates the lawyers gave, and severely overshot the budget despite the client's attempts to control the fees. In addition, the law firm was more confident about their chances of prevailing than they should have been. The law firm sued client for close to $900,000 still owed. We achieved a settlement where client paid a small fraction of the amount being sought.
17Fee Dispute; ethics violationsFamily Law2011Northern CaliforniaSuper confidential settlement.We represented two women who were represented in separate divorce cases by a well-known, leading family law lawyer in California. While we don't typically take on family law legal malpractice or over billing cases, this was not our first run in with this lawyer as the lawyer has a reputation for overly aggressive billing practices. The cases were quite different; one was a bitterly fought divorce and was settled more amicably (no thanks to the attorney), but each had the hallmarks of abusive billing. Read More
18Legal MalpracticeTrust Administration2011Contra Costa County, CaliforniaConfidential mid-six figure settlement.Action for compensatory and punitive damages against an attorney that arose out the attorney's forging documents to cover up an estate planning mistake. Read More
19Legal malpracticeConstruction law; insurance coverage2010San Francisco, CaliforniaJury verdict completely in favor of our client for full amount requested.Contractor sues his attorney for bad advice on merits of case and failure to tender the claim to his insurance career. Late discovery of weakness in clients' case results in bad settlement for contractor and inability to recover from insurance carrier because of late tender of claim.Read More
20Fee DisputeIntellectual property2010Out of State firm; Northern California litigationConfidential settlement at a fraction of the fees being claimed by law firm.Small client, sued for copyright infringement by predator company, is billed in excess of $1,000,000 when case should have been resolved quickly through a simple licensing agreement (which is where case ended up). Law firm sued client for high six figure on outstanding fee claim. We achieved a settlement where client paid 15% of the amount being sought.
21Consumer FraudReal Estate2010Los Angeles, CaliforniaAtallah vs. Equilon Enterprises (subsidiary of Shell Oil). Gwire Law Offices Wins $50 Million Dollar Punitive Damage Award Against Shell Oil Company.On March 9, 2010, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $50 million in punitive damages to Gwire Law Offices client Elias Atallah, capping a five year legal battle fought against the largest company in the world (Royal Dutch Shell) and three of the most formidable law firms in the country. The $50 million in punitive damages, awarded for Shell Oil's fraud against Mr. Atallah, came on top of a compensatory damage award of $1,650,000 awarded by a different jury in 2006.Read More
22Legal malpracticeDivorce2010San Jose, CaliforniaJury Trial. Plaintiff verdict: $187,000. Settled post trial for confidential settlement.One of the rare cases we take involving divorce. It arose out of an attorney's negligent handling of client's dissolution of a 30 year marriage. The dissolution was complicated, complex, and involved the tracing of millions in community property funds, most of which our client's ex-husband had misappropriated. Client's attorney had virtually no family law experience and was not a regular practitioner in Santa Clara County (where the dissolution action was filed). Client ended up settling the case for less than what she was entitled. (Click here for more case details)Read More
23Legal Malpractice and Over billingEmployment Dispute2010Sonoma County, CaliforniaLaw firm disgorged substantially all of the money clients paid and relinquished any claim for additional fees.Legal malpractice case against a small firm for accepting and prosecuting an employment case (wrongful discharge) on behalf of two individuals who were in a conflict of interest. The attorneys knew the case had no value and should never have been filed, but they churned the case for over $100,000 in fees. After the attorneys all but bankrupted the clients, they withdrew, and then sued their former clients for the balance owed. The former clients' cross-claimed for fraud and a return of the fees paid. Case settled confidentially.
24Legal MalpracticePartnership Dispute2009Orange County, CaliforniaSettled for a high six figure, confidential settlement.Multi-million dollar claim for negligence of an LA based major national law firm (800 lawyers) in representing owner of television stations in partnership dispute.
25Legal MalpracticePatent protection2009Washington, D.C.Case settled for confidential settlement. Case was venued in Washington, D.C.Legal malpractice claim against a major, mid-west based, national and international law firm for failure to properly secure overseas patent protection for developmental drug.
26Legal MalpracticeTrust & Estates; Will contest2008Marin County, CaliforniaConfidential six figure settlement.Legal malpractice action by client, the intended beneficiary of a living trust, to recover damages from an attorney who negligently drafted the trust for the decedent. Read More
27Legal MalpracticeCorporate Merger and Real Estate Transaction2008San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential seven figure settlement.Legal malpractice claim over the failure of a San Francisco law firm to properly document a corporate merger into a national company. The negligence resulted in an approximate $20,000,000 loss to client. Case settled within 9 months of our assuming responsibility (after nearly 2 years of client negotiating with law firm for settlement). Settlement is confidential but was for full policy limit of law firm, plus major contribution direct from law firm since policy was inadequate to cover full client loss.
28Legal Malpractice Patent Infringement Case2008Silicon Valley, CaliforniaConfidential settlement in seven figures.Legal malpractice claim against major national law firm (1,000+ lawyers) for failure to properly represent client in a patent infringement case involving semi-conductors. Negligence led to client being forced to settle on disadvantageous terms.
29Legal MalpracticeConstruction Defect Case2008San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential settlement.Legal malpractice claim against major national law firm (600+ lawyers) for failure to properly represent client in a multi-million dollar construction defect dispute. Negligence, which consisted primarily of the firm's failure to do proper discovery and secure needed experts, led to client being forced to settle on disadvantageous terms (the client paid several million dollars in settlement on a case on which client should have recovered damages).
30Legal MalpracticeSale of Business2008Los Angeles, CaliforniaCase settled after several years of litigation for confidential amount, at about 50% of value of client's claims. Case was extremely complex and had several formidable defenses with which to contend.Legal malpractice claim against a mid-size regional (Southern California) law firm for failure to properly represent client in a breach of contract case involving the multi-million dollar sale of an HMO. Firm's negligence led to a loss on a summary judgment motion (which clearly should have been defeated), effectively destroying client's claims.
31Legal Malpractice Personal Injury2008Fresno, CaliforniaSettled for full amount of client's claim plus interest for amounts that were wrongfully escrowed. This case was against an attorney involving particularly egregious breaches of professional responsibility, fiduciary duties and ethics. Our client sought damages and disgorgement of attorney's fees paid to attorney in connection with attorney's representation of client in a personal injury action. On the eve of trial for said action, contrary to the attorney-client contingent fee agreement (which required the attorney to advance all costs), attorney demanded that client advance a significant sum to cover the costs of trial or attorney would withdraw. Read More
32Fee DisputeUnconscionable Fee Claim2008U.S. District Court: San Francisco, CaliforniaCase settled after 6 months of litigation for $75,000 paid by client to law firm.Breach of fiduciary duty claim against law firm that represented an injured and retired professional football player. The defendant law firm successfully represented client in claim against the NFL for disability benefits, but demanded unconscionable fees, close to the equivalent of seven figures. Client offered settlement of $300,000 (before our involvement), which firm rejected.
33Legal MalpracticePatent Infringement2008Orlando, FloridaSettled for the policy limits on the firm's malpractice insurance.Legal malpractice claim against Florida law firm for failure to properly handle trial for software developers sued by competitor for patent infringement on software program. Loss at trial by law firm led to clients having to relinquish rights to successful software program and loss in the millions of dollars. Case was litigated in Florida (we were brought in by local counsel) and settled after a year of bitterly fought litigation for firm's policy limit.
34Attorney Fee DisputeBilling for Tax Litigation2008San Francisco, CaliforniaArbitration award for full amount of over-billed fees. In this binding arbitration before a retired judge, we represented a financial services company that had been over billed about $200,000 as a result of the law firm surreptitiously hiking its hourly attorney fee rates without providing proper notice. The firm claimed that the hourly fee increases could be discerned from the statements, which the client admitted had been reviewed. Read More
35Attorney Fee DisputeInternational Travel for Illegal Sexual Activities2008U.S Federal District CourtTrial before U.S. Magistrate resulting in full, 100% recovery of client's rightful fee.We represent plaintiffs in connection with all manner of cases involving negligent, unethical and greedy attorneys, and sometimes that means representing lawyers against other lawyers. This is such a case.Read More
36Attorney Fee DisputeReferral of large construction defect case2007Northern CaliforniaSettled after a bitter, years long legal battle for approximately 70% of disputed fee.Lawyers don't just demonstrate their greed against their clients, they exhibit greed when it comes to sharing fees with other lawyers. As in the case described above, our client was an attorney who referred what turned out to be a very large case to another law firm who agreed to pay the referring attorney a referral fee, which under California law has to be in writing, and has to be consented to by the client.Read More
37Legal MalpracticeCriminal Law2007Northern CaliforniaCase settled.In one of only two criminal legal malpractice cases we've ever handled, we went after a referral agency who preyed on people accused of crimes and the attorney to whom the case was referred.Read More
38Legal MalpracticeBankruptcy2007San Mateo, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for several million dollars at approximately 80% of client's losses.Legal malpractice claim over Silicon Valley law firm's failure to properly represent hi-tech company which purchased IT assets out of bankruptcy court. Firm's negligence involved the failure to properly securitize assets resulting in needless litigation and additional payment by client to secure assets.
39Attorney Fee DisputeConfidential2007CaliforniaUltra Confidential Settlement.Action on behalf of clients whose attorneys allegedly breached fiduciary duties relating to settlement offers and demanding improper contingency fees and costs.Read More
40Attorney Fee DisputeContract Law2005Los Angeles, CaliforniaInteresting Jury Trial.Action on behalf of an attorney seeking to recover attorneys fees. Read More
41Legal MalpracticeReal Estate; Boundary Lines2005Monterey County, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $450,000.Action against two Central California law firms for negligence in finalizing a settlement of a real estate dispute. Read More
42Legal Malpractice Probate and Tax Law2004Marin County, CaliforniaTrial and settlement (no confidentiality). Total dollar recovery to clients was $907,500. Malpractice claim arising out of negligently handled probate and trust administration. Involved two separate acts of legal malpractice. Read More
43Legal Malpractice Securities; Mergers & Acquisitions2004Santa Clara, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $1,625,000Action against New York firm for negligently handling securities registration work involving a reverse triangular merger. Read More
44Legal Malpractice Contract Law2004San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $700,000.Two law firms badly advise physician on his contract rights and negligently represent him in a subsequent arbitration involving a breach of a medical services agreement. Read More
45Legal Fee DisputeIntellectual Property2004Miami, Florida - Federal Court Confidential settlement for $350,000 reduction on a $650,000 fee claim.Florida medical device company overcharged by its Washington, D.C. intellectual property firm in a contract and patent dispute case in Florida. Read More
46Legal MalpracticeProbate Law2004San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $200,000.Two law firms guilty of legal malpractice in filing a claim against an estate. Read More
47Legal MalpracticeSecurities; Mergers & Acquisitions2003San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $1,150,000.International law firm negligent in securing intellectual property rights for a group of investor lenders in a start up company.Read More
48Legal MalpracticePersonal Injury2003Alameda County, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $230,000Personal injury firm negligent in agreeing to limit client's recovery to avoid litigating in Federal CourtRead More
49Legal MalpracticeTrademark and royalties2003Los Angeles, CaliforniaNon-Confidential settlement for $350,000.Los Angeles entertainment lawyer negligent in losing a royalty recovery case for two music composers. Read More
50Legal Malpractice Real Estate sales2003Oakland, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $200,000.Real estate malpractice against firm that badly advised client on sale of commercial property. Read More
51Ethics Issue Family Law2002Palm Springs, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $400,000 reduction on $550,000 claimed balance.Fee dispute and claim for breach of fiduciary duty against Palm Springs divorce attorney for improper collection of referral fee. Read More
52Legal Malpractice Sale of Business2001San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $1,750,000.San Francisco law firm negligent over failure to properly conduct due diligence for client selling his company. Read More
53Legal Fee Dispute - Breach of Fiduciary Duty Intellectual Property2001San Francisco, CaliforniaConfidential settlement for $450,000.San Francisco intellectual property law firm sued for wrongful billing practices.Read More
54Legal MalpracticeEmployment and Contract Law2001Humboldt County, CaliforniaConfidential Settlement: $900,000.00Northern California law firm settles malpractice claim arising out of its failure to properly draft and advise client about a settlement. Read More
55Breach of Fiduciary DutyPartnership Dispute2001San Francisco, CaliforniaJury Verdict for $1,600,000 Nationally reported case involving the misappropriation of partnership funds by one partner in a real estate development company. Read More
56Fee Dispute Divorce Case2001San Francisco, CaliforniaCase settled for a refund of the woman's $3,000 retainer and interest.We represented a Vietnamese woman who was essentially brought over to this country by a man she met on the internet. They married and he turned out to be physically and emotionally abusive and she sought a divorce. She scraped together $3,000 (borrowing from some friends and good Samaritans) to get her divorce and went to a local attorney active in (preying upon might be a better term) the Vietnamese community. The lawyer took her $3,000 retainer and did nothing for her. She tried to get her money back and he concocted some work that he claimed he did and actually claimed she owed him money. After six months of battling with the attorney (expending perhaps $40,000 of our time in the process), we got her the full retainer back plus some money, and she was able to get a new attorney and her divorce.
57Legal malpracticeFamily Law2001Northern CaliforniaConfidential settlement for full amount of loss.We represented a very successful physician who wisely had a pre-nuptial agreement drafted for him in anticipation of his marriage to a much younger woman. When the woman eventually divorced the doctor about five years later, she attacked the validity of the pre-nuptial agreement to get at the doctor's substantial assets. And, because the pre-nuptial agreement did not comply with what was then California's requirements, the pre-nuptial agreement was ruled invalid. The doctor was forced to pay several million dollars in assets over to his ex-wife; assets that should have clearly been his alone. We recovered damages representing most of the value of the assets he had lost.
58Legal MalpracticeBusiness Litigation; 2000U.S. Federal District Court - Northern District of California Confidential settlement for $1,800,000 Major National corporation settles claim arising out of the failure to deliver custom software program free of defects.Read More

About Confidential Settlements

Lawyers hate negative publicity and will try to avoid any public information about cases where they are accused of wrongdoing.   That is reflected in the high percentage of malpractice cases that are settled before trial, and by the fact that we have never settled a case in which the attorney does not demand confidentiality as a condition of settlement.  That’s why  the overwhelming majority of cases shown on this page involve “confidential” settlements.  That is even true when we have actually taken cases to trial, which are publicly reported.  Attorneys will settle the cases after trial specifically to obtain confidentiality.  Where there is a confidential settlement, we can’t provide any details about the case which could be used to identify the attorney.   While we honor these confidential agreements, we also feel it is of value to clients to learn about other situations that people get themselves into, and so, to the extent we are permitted, we publish information about these settlements.  

The fact that a client settles a case confidentially does not mean that they cannot report the attorney to the State Bar of California.  In fact, it is an ethical violation for an attorney to demand, as a condition of settlement,  that a client agree not to file a complaint with the State Bar.