Top Attorneys 2012


William J. Aceves

California Western School of Law

A. Thomas Golden

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Julie Greenberg

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Marybeth Herald

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Luz E. Herrera

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Alex Kreit

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Cara Mitnick

University of San Diego School of Law

Laura Marie Padilla

California Western School of Law

Brenda M. Simon

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Jeff W. Slattery

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Kenneth Vandevelde

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Corporate Litigation

Timothy K. Branson

Gordon & Rees LLP

Guillermo “Gil” Cabrera

The Cabrera Firm APC

Steven T. Coopersmith

The Coopersmith Law Firm

Matthew B. Dart


Thomas C. Frost

The Frost Firm

James N. Godes

Godes & Preis LLP

William E. Grauer

Cooley LLP

Patricia P. Hollenbeck

Duane Morris LLP

John D. Klinedinst

Klinedinst PC

Mark Carroll Mazzarella

Mazzarella Lorenzana LLP

Jeffrey K. Miyamoto

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz

Omar G. Nassar

The Nassar Firm

Nancy L. Stagg

Foley & Lardner LLP

Richard M. Wirtz

Wirtz Law APC

Corporate Transactional

Michael J. Brown

Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth

Barry M. Clarkson

Latham & Watkins LLP

William Eigner

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Jeremy David Glaser

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Mike Hird

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Paul B. Johnson

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Charles S. Kim

Cooley LLP

Matt Schwartz


Beni Surpin

Paul Hastings LLP

John D. Tishler

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP

Adam Wyll

American Assets Trust Inc.


G. Cole Casey

Law Offices of G. Cole Casey, APLC

Stephen Gary Cline

Law Offices of Stephen G. Cline; Ameriant Law Group LLP

Selena Epley

Office of the Primary Public Defender

Daniel Frederick Greene

Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong APLC

Samantha A. Greene

Sevens Legal APC

John Lanahan

Law Office of John Lanahan

Michael L. Lipman

Duane Morris LLP

Wendy L. Patrick

San Diego Deputy District Attorney, Special Operations Division

Charles Sevilla

Law Office of Charles Sevilla

Kay L. Sunday

Kay L. Sunday Law Offices

Thomas J. Warwick Jr.

Grimes and Warwick

Zaki Zehawi

San Diego Alternate Public Defender

Estate Planning/Probate & Trust

Roland Achtel

Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel

Olga Alvarez

Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel

Judy S. Bae

Miller, Monson, Peshel, Polacek & Hoshaw

James J. Brown

Goodwin Brown Gross & Lovelace LLP

Richard Ansel Heller

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Danielle C. Humphries

Hahn, Loeser & Parks LLP

Gary Jander

Brierton Jones & Jones, LLP

Jerilyn Jones

Brierton, Jones & Jones LLP

Shannon N. Montisano

Hughes & Pizzuto APC

Kristan Shepard

Goodwin Brown Gross & Lovelace LLP


Maricela Amezola

Strickland & Amezola

Elizabeth M. Brown

Lowenstein Brown, APLC

Lesa Christenson

ABC Family Law

Christine Hayes Sickler

The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider

Garrison Klueck

Law & Mediation Offices of Garrison Klueck

Michele Sacks Lowenstein

Lowenstein Brown APLC

Sandy Lynne Meade

Law Offices of Jon D. Rigney, A.P.C.

Jon David Rigney

Law Offices of Jon D. Rigney, A.P.C.

David S. Schulman

Moore, Schulman & Moore, APC

John H. Schweitzer

Stassinopoulos & Schweitzer, APLC

Nancy Stassinopoulos

Stassinopoulos & Schweitzer, APLC

Rachel Perry Young

Law Office of Rachel P. Young


Dorn G. Bishop

The Law Offices of Dorn G. Bishop APC

Andrew Dunk

Dunk & Associates

Peter H. Klee

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Matthew J. Liedle

Liedle, Lounsbery, Larson & Lidl, LLP

Jeffrey K. Miyamoto

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz

Rebecca Lack Mowbray

Mowbray Law Firm

Dominic S. Nesbitt

Osborne & Nesbitt LLP

Brook B. Roberts

Latham & Watkins

Heather Linn Rosing

Klinedinst PC

Scott W. Sonne

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

John M. Wilson

Latham & Watkins

Jack B. Winters, Jr.

Winters & Associates

Intellectual Property Litigation

N. Thane Bauz

Perkins Coie

Matthew Cook Bernstein

Perkins Coie LLP

Frederick S. Berretta

Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP

Juanita Brooks

Fish & Richardson PC

Roger Alen Denning

Fish & Richardson PC

John Giust

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC

Randall Kay

Jones Day

John D. Kinton

Jones Day

John S. Kyle

Cooley LLP

John P. Schnurer

Perkins Coie LLP

Anthony Stiegler

Cooley LLP

John Thornburgh

Fish & Richardson PC

Kent M. Walker

Lewis Kohn & Fitzwilliam LLP

David K. Wiggins

HTC America, Inc.

Boris Zelkind

Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP

Intellectual Property Transactional

Bing Ai

Perkins Coie LLP

G. Peter Albert Jr.

AlbertDhand LLP

Matthew Cook Bernstein

Perkins Coie LLP

Sanjeev K. Dhand

AlbertDhand LLP

William E. Hunter

Fish & Richardson PC

Ned Israelsen

Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP

John Kim

IP Legal Advisors PC

Carl A. Kukkonen, III

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC

Lisa Martens

Fish & Richardson PC

Marc Truman Morley

Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP

Joshua J. Richman

IP Legal Advisors PC

Beni Surpin

Paul Hastings LLP

Sam K. Tahmassebi

TechLaw, LLP

Labor & Employment

Jonathan D. Andrews

Andrews Lagasse Branch & Bell LLP

Harvey C. Berger

Pope, Berger, Williams & Reynolds LLP

Rick Bergstrom

Jones Day

Jennifer Sarkozy Branch

Andrews Lagasse Branch & Bell LLP

Krista M. Cabrera

Foley & Lardner LLP

Mary C. Dollarhide

Paul Hastings LLP

Michael S. Kalt

Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP

Jerrilyn Malana

Littler Mendelson

Spencer Skeen

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC

Claudette G. Wilson

Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP

Leonid “Lonny” M. Zilberman

Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP

Municipal & Government

Charles B. Christensen

Christensen & Spath LLP

Jodi L. Cleesattle

California Office of the Attorney General

Deborah A. Cumba

State of California, Department of Transportation

Leslie E. Devaney

Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz

Shawn D. Hagerty

Best Best & Krieger

Michelle Ialeggio

San Diego District Attorney

Chris Anthony Knudsen

California Dept. of Justice, Office of the Attorney General

Phillip James Lindsay

California Attorney General’s Office

Michael R. McGuinness

Escondido City Attorney’s Office

Amy Roebuck

California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General

Walter F. Spath III

Christensen & Spath LLP

Personal Injury/Property Damage

James Matthew Brown

Law Offices of James Matthew Brown

Andrew Dunk

Dunk & Associates

Robert J. Francavilla

Casey, Gerry, Schenk, Francavilla, Blatt & Penfield, LLP

John H. Gomez

Gomez Trial Attorneys

Robert Hamparyan

Law Offices of Robert Hamparyan

Ryan D. Harris

Harris Personal Injury Lawyers

Thomas D. Penfield

Casey, Gerry, Schenk, Francavilla, Blatt & Penfield, LLP

Kevin F. Quinn

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire

Brett J. Schreiber

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire

Steven C. Vosseller

The Gomez Law Firm

Real Estate & Construction Litigation

Jeffrey Baird

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird LLP

P. Randolph "Randy" Finch Jr.

Finch, Thornton & Baird LLP

Mark Hagarty

McKenna, Long & Aldridge

Robert J. Hanna

Best Best & Krieger LLP

Charles T. Hoge

Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge LLP

Andrea L. Petray

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP

Laurence R. Phillips

McKenna Long & Aldridge

David W. Smiley

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP

Jason R. Thornton

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP

Mark Zebrowski

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Real Estate & Construction Transactional

David Bagley

Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley LLP

Sony Ben-Moshe

Latham & Watkins LLP

Jeffrey Chine

Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP

Ray Gliner

Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP

Robert Kolodny

Kolodny & Pressman LLP

Steven Joel Levine

Latham & Watkins LLP

Brett Rosenblatt

Latham & Watkins, LLP

Bruce P. Shepherd

Latham & Watkins LLP

Kenneth J. Stipanov

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Eric Young

Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani

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Joel R. Bryant

Green Bryant & French, LLP

Karen B. Dow

Sughrue Mion, PLLC

J. William Hargreaves

Hargreaves & Taylor LLP

Kenneth E. Jenkins, Ph.D.

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Alexandra M. Kwoka

Law Offices of Alexandra M. Kwoka

Harvey R. Levine

Law Offices of Levine & Miller

Craig R. McClellan

The McClellan Law Firm

Stephanie Seidman

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Allen Snyder

University of San Diego School of Law

Michael Whitton

Troutman Sanders

2012 Winner

Charles B. Christensen

Christensen & Spath LLP


Law School/Year: University of San Diego School of Law, 1973

College/Year: Claremont McKenna College, 1970

Bar Admissions 

California; U.S. District Court for Southern, Central and Northern Districts of California; U.S. Claims Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; U.S. Supreme Court

Practice Areas 

Business Litigation; Civil Litigation; Construction; Real Estate; Municipal and Government; Affordable Housing Law

Major Cases 

San Diego Housing Commission v. Industrial Indemnity, 68 Cal. App. 4th 526 (1998); San Diego Housing Commission v. Industrial Indemnity, 95 Cal. App. 669,116 CR2d 103 (2002). I was also lead counsel in the cases of Old Vail vs. City of Temecula, inverse condemnation cases filed against the city in both federal district court and state court to obtain relief for our client as a result of alleged wrongful downzoning of the property after a special assessment had previously been levied against the property assuming a higher zoning. The federal issues were appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The state court cases were settled with our client obtaining its requested zoning and thereafter being able to successfully sell the property with the proper zoning. Most recently, Spath and I were both involved in representing the San Diego Housing Commission in connection with its nationally recognized conversion from federally subsidized public housing. Thereafter, the firm acted as borrower’s counsel for the San Diego Housing Commission in obtaining FNMA and FHA multifamily housing insured loans in excess of $95 million through national lenders Greystone and PNC. Christensen & Spath LLP has also acted as buyers and lender’s counsel for the Housing Commission in the acquisition of 834 units of affordable housing through its landmark HUD approved acquisition program over the last three years.  In addition, last year I was involved in assisting in the amendment of the inclusionary housing ordinance in the City of San Diego to deal with issue raised by the Palmer and Patterson cases. In addition, foreclosure litigation involving the SRO Churchill Hotel was successfully resolved in the San Diego Superior Court.

Professional Background 

After graduating from USD School of Law and passing the bar, I went to work for the firm of Biafora and Weiner in the San Fernando Valley in 1974. I became a partner of the firm of Biafora, Weiner & Christensen in 1976. In 1978 I moved back to San Diego and became vice president and general counsel of the civil engineering and surveying firm of Charles W. Christensen & Associates. In 1983 I became a partner in the firm of Detisch & Christensen and remained with that firm until 2002, when Walter Spath III and I formed the firm that is now called Christensen & Spath LLP. I have been practicing law in the state of California for almost 39 years. I have attained the “AV-Preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Our firm of Christensen & Spath LLP, a downtown San Diego law firm, is rated AV and is also listed in the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell National Bar Register of Preeminent Law Firms in the United States, in the areas of municipal law, civil trial practice and general practice. I have been named one of the top public agency lawyers by The Daily Transcript in 2005, 2009, 2011 and now in 2012. I have also been named a Super Lawyer in the San Diego area in the municipal law arena for the last six years (2007 through 2012). For the last 20 years a major portion of my practice has been devoted to representing public entities, including the San Diego Housing Commission in connection with all types of legal matters. My firm has also represented redevelopment agencies concerning redevelopment and housing law and has represented cities, including the City of San Diego and the City of National City in complex civil litigation matters, as special counsel. We have also represented the CDC of National City, the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Marcos, SANDAG, the City of Poway and the City of Chula Vista as special counsel for various issues including real estate and affordable housing matters. I have tried numerous bench trials and jury trials to judgment and verdict, representing both public and private clients in state and federal trial courts and in the Courts of Appeal, including appeals in the California Court of Appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, the State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. Our firm has represented the City of San Diego and the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego in civil litigation involving matters affecting affordable housing, including litigation involving SRO Hotels and inclusionary zoning matters. I have been chief trial counsel in civil litigation on behalf of the public entities where these entities have collected settlements and judgments valued in excess of $14 million over the last several years.

Professional Affiliations 

I am a member of the San Diego County Bar Association and the American Bar Association. I am a past arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and a past member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. I am an active member of the State Bar of California.

Personal Background 

I have resided in San Diego County since I was 2 years old, except for the four years that I practiced law in Los Angeles County in the '70s. I currently live in Point Loma with my wife of almost 42 years, Susan. We have four children, Brophy, Michelle, Courtney and Tim. We also have six grandchildren. We are very happy and fortunate that all of but one of our children and all of our grandchildren live in California, with most of them residing in San Diego County.

2012 Sponsors

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Submitted Articles

The fiduciary standard: The benefits of a corporate trustee

Ensuring their plans are executed according to their wishes — and protecting them from unexpected pitfalls — is an important consideration for wealthy individuals. As such, a great deal of attention and press is paid to the importance of having a will or well-written trust document to ensure that your legacy is carried out. While this is a critical step, of equal importance is choosing the successor trustee — the person or entity that will carry out those wishes on your behalf.

California Western professors combine scholarly expertise with administrative acumen

Well-respected for their contributions to understanding of the law and to legal education, California Western School of Law associate deans William Aceves and Laura Padilla lend their considerable expertise and acumen to the day-to-day operations of San Diego’s oldest law school.

A provisional patent application is not a stake in the ground

On many occasions and from many sources, including potential clients and patent attorneys, the phrase "stake in the ground" has been used to describe the purpose or goal of a provisional application. If one considers a provisional application to be a stake in the ground, to somehow capture an area of technology around a stake, all one will get is the stake. This is not a viable patenting strategy. The flaws of such strategy, previously significant for non-U.S. rights, now are magnified by virtue of the first to file provisions of the American Invents Act (AIA). The first-to-file provisions of the AIA will come into effect on March 16, 2013.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law professors achieve noteworthy recognition

The talents and expertise of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law faculty who collectively help drive the growing national and international reputation of the law school are exemplified by some of their recent noteworthy achievements.

USD School of Law: Creating top attorneys for more than half a century

The University of San Diego School of Law congratulates its notable alumni who appear on this list of top San Diego attorneys.

The craft of expert communication

Jurors make decisions not just on what they see and hear, but also on what they believe. Jurors tend to believe what they can understand. That’s where the expert’s communications skills come into play.

The Coopersmith Law Firm

As a year-round long-distance ocean swimmer, Steve Coopersmith is used to thriving in extreme, difficult conditions.

The new normal in pharma litigation

Last year was especially tough for plaintiffs and consumers in the world of pharmaceutical litigation.

Troutman Sanders represents clients from US to China

Troutman Sanders is an internationally recognized firm with more than 600 lawyers and offices located throughout the United States and China. The San Diego practice covers a broad range of services including complex commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, insurance litigation, and real estate and business transactions, led by Managing Partner Michael J. Whitton, named a Transcript 10 Top Attorneys finalist.

Fighting back against cybersmear

Good, honest and loyal employees are the greatest asset of any company. Unfortunately not all employees are great. Some employees are dishonest and others are vindictive. Not surprisingly, ex-employees who are discharged due to dishonesty are the most likely ones to post a defamatory blog about their former employer.

Tough enough to fight, compassionate enough to care

The attorneys of The Gomez Law Firm gladly step into the ring for their clients when defendants don’t pay what’s fair. This boutique firm focuses on high-value and high-profile catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, trucking litigation and elder abuse. The willingness of the attorneys to go to trial combined with their attention to detail, impeccable service and results-driven approach have allowed the firm to obtain more than $250 million in verdicts and settlements since 2000.