Top Attorneys 2013


John C. Demas

University of San Diego School of Business Adminstration

Julie Greenberg

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Marybeth Herald

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Lilys D. McCoy

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Frank Partnoy

University of San Diego School of Law

Julie Caron Remer

University of San Diego School of Law

Niels B. Schaumann

California Western School of Law

Steven Semeraro

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Dana K. Sisitsky

California Western School of Law

Stacey L. Tyree

University of San Diego School of Law & Montage Legal Group

Corporate Litigation

Kevin W. Alexander

Gordon & Rees LLP

Guillermo “Gil” Cabrera

The Cabrera Firm APC

Steven T. Coopersmith

The Coopersmith Law Firm

Kenneth Fitzgerald

Chapin Fitzgerald LLP

Valerie Garcia Hong

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC

William E. Grauer

Cooley LLP

James R. Lance

Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge LLP

Lynne Lasry

Sandler Lasry Laube Byer & Valdez LLP

Craig M. Nicholas

Nicholas & Butler LLP

Paul A. Tyrell

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Corporate Transactional

Michael J. Brown

Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth

William Eigner

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Christian Peter Fonss

Klinedinst PC

Jeremy David Glaser

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

Mike Hird

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Marty B. Lorenzo

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

Michael S. Umansky

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP


Kerry L. Armstrong

Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC

Jose Garza Badillo

Law Office of Jose Garza Badillo

Stephen Gary Cline

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

Marc Bruce Geller

Marc B. Geller, A Professional Corporation

Christian M. Ham

Law Offices of Christian M. Ham

Michael C. Harkness

Michael C. Harkness APLC

Stacey A. Kartchner

The Law Office of Stacey A. Kartchner

Paul H. Neuharth Jr.

Law Offices of Paul H. Neuharth Jr., APC

Paul Joseph Pfingst

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP

Charles Sevilla

Law Office of Charles Sevilla


Garrison Raymond Armstrong

Garrison Armstrong Law Corp.

Judy S. Bae

Miller, Monson, Peshel, Polacek & Hoshaw

Richard Carpenter

Richard Carpenter Tax Law Office

Nancy G. Henderson

Henderson, Caverly, Pum & Charney

Danielle C. Humphries

Hahn, Loeser & Parks LLP

Jerilyn Jones

Brierton, Jones & Jones LLP

Shannon N. Montisano

Hughes & Pizzuto APC

Karl Andrew Rand

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP

Ellen H. Whelan

DLA Piper


Michele Brown

Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider APC

Scott Finkbeiner

Wilkinson & Finkbeiner LLP

Traci A. Hoppes

Law & Mediation Offices of Garrison Klueck

David M. Huffman

Huffman & Kostas

Andrew P. Johnson

Andrew P. Johnson APC

Meredith Gilbert Lewis

Lewis, Warren & Setzer LLP

Erik S. Moore

Moore, Schulman & Moore APC

Sara R. Neumann

Yelman & Associates

James M. Ratzer

Ratzer Family Law

Puja A. Sachdev

Sachdev Legal Group APC


Fausta Maria Albi

Larrabee Albi Coker LLP

Veronica Barba

Lucas & Barba LLP

Leah W. Hurwitz

Hurwitz Holt APLC

Ginger E. Jacobs

Jacobs & Schlesinger LLP

Sharon Mehlman

Mehlman Barnes LLP

Brandon Meyer

Meyer Law Group

Andrew Kenneth Nietor

Law Office of Andrew Nietor

Ruth Ellen Spillane

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP

William “Bill” Waddell

Kraus Law Corporation

Sandra M. Wagner

Law Offices of Sandra M. Wagner


Dorn G. Bishop

The Law Offices of Dorn G. Bishop APC

Robert Vail Closson

Hirsch, Closson, McMillan & Schroeder APLC

Andrew Dunk

Dunk & Associates

Charles L. Fanning IV

Oliva & Associates ALC

Cecilia O'Connell Miller

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

Craig A. Miller

Law Offices of Craig A. Miller

Marilyn Ruth Moriarty

Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith

Dominic S. Nesbitt

Osborne & Nesbitt LLP

Joseph Louis Oliva

Oliva & Associates ALC

Douglas A. Pettit

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz

Brook B. Roberts

Latham & Watkins

Intellectual Property Litigation

Matthew Cook Bernstein

Perkins Coie LLP

Juanita Brooks

Fish & Richardson PC

William J. Caldarelli

Caldarelli Hejmanowski Page & Leer LLP

Kenneth Fitzgerald

Chapin Fitzgerald LLP

Allison Hughes Goddard

Patterson Law Group, APC

Randall Kay

Jones Day

Thomas Millikan

Gartman Law Group

Anthony Stiegler

Cooley LLP

Kent M. Walker

Lewis Kohn & Fitzwilliam LLP

David K. Wiggins

HTC America, Inc.

Intellectual Property Transactional

Bing Ai

Perkins Coie LLP

G. Peter Albert Jr.

AlbertDhand LLP

Susan Wilkie Gorman

Gorman IP Law APC

David M. Kohn

Lewis Kohn & Fitzwilliam LLP

Carl A. Kukkonen, III

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

Joshua J. Richman

IP Legal Advisors PC

Daniel J. Schatz

Rovi Corporation

Andrew Serwin

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Beni Surpin

Paul Hastings LLP

Labor & Employment

Jennifer Sarkozy Branch

Andrews Lagasse Branch & Bell LLP

Matthew B. Butler

Nicholas & Butler LLP

Dave Carothers

Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP

Christopher B. Cato

Gordon & Rees LLP

Regina Petty

Fisher & Phillips LLP

Kristin E. Rizzo

Rizzo Law Firm

Spencer Skeen

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC

Cynthia Lee Stratton

Stratton & Green ALC

Leonid “Lonny” M. Zilberman

Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP

Municipal & Government

Sandra Jean Brower

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP

Charles B. Christensen

Christensen & Spath LLP

Mark Caesar T. Cumba

California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General

Lea Fields-Bernard

City of San Diego

Erika Hiramatsu

Office of the Attorney General, State of California

Michelle Ialeggio

San Diego District Attorney

Kevin G. Kennedy

Office of County Counsel

Phillip James Lindsay

California Attorney General’s Office

Melanie Petersen

Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost

Walter F. Spath III

Christensen & Spath LLP

Personal Injury

James Matthew Brown

Law Office of James Matthew Brown, APLC

Ben J. Coughlan

Gomez Iagmin Trial Attorneys

Robert J. Francavilla

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

Ian C. Fusselman

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire

John H. Gomez

Gomez Trial Attorneys

Robert Hamparyan

Law Offices of Robert Hamparyan

Patrick L. Hosey

Hosey & Bahrambeygui LLP

George R. Kindley

Law Offices of George R. Kindley

Jeremiah A. Lowe

Gomez Iagmin Trial Attorneys

Christopher C. Walton

Walton Law APC

Jake A. Walton

The Jake A. Walton Law Firm

Real Estate & Construction Litigation

Kimberly A. Blake

Gordon & Rees LLP

Mark G. Budwig

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Dana J. Dunwoody

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

P. Randolph "Randy" Finch Jr.

Finch, Thornton & Baird LLP

Jack R. Leer

Caldarelli Hejmanowski & Page LLP

Will Lemkul

Morris, Sullivan & Lemkul LLP

William H. Naumann

The Naumann Law Firm PC

Danielle G. Nelson

Balestreri Potocki & Holmes, ALC

JP Roach

Hughes Marino

Jason R. Thornton

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP

Real Estate & Construction Transactional

David Bagley

Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley LLP

Jeffrey Baird

Marks, Finch, Thornton & Baird LLP

Robert Caplan

Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek

Randal J. Lejuwaan

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Robin Munro Madaffer

San Diego Land Lawyers Inc.

Julie Mebane

Duane Morris LLP

JP Roach

Hughes Marino

Brian T. Seltzer

Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek

Bruce P. Shepherd

Latham & Watkins LLP

Kenneth J. Stipanov

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

2013 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 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, Walter Spath and I were 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, recently I was involved in assisting in the amendment of the inclusionary housing ordinance in the city of San Diego to deal with issues 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. The Churchill Hotel is being renovated and made ready for reoccupation.

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 40 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 was named one of the top public agency lawyers by The Daily Transcript in 2005, 2009, 2011, 2012 and now in 2013. I have also been named a Super Lawyer in the San Diego area in the municipal law arena for the last seven years (2007 through 2013). In March of 2013, I was named at Top Lawyer in San Diego by the San Diego Magazine. For the last 22 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 1970s. I currently live in Point Loma with my wife of almost 43 years, Susan. We have four children, Brophy, Michelle, Courtney and Tim. We also have seven 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.

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Video Interviews

Top Attorneys 2013: Lonny Zilberman

Aug. 14, 2013 -- Reporter Doug Sherwin talks with attorney Lonny Zilberman, a partner with Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP and a 2013 Top Attorney, about sexual harassment lawsuits and the nuances of these types of cases.