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Douglas Robbins

With twenty years of experience in over twenty court trials, arbitrations, and administrative hearings in jurisdictions all over the San Francisco Bay Area, Doug is a veteran trial lawyer and advocate. He focuses on complex commercial disputes, real estate law, employment law, and entertainment law. Before founding Tong Robbins in 2020, Doug worked in big law, representing some of the most prominent names in Silicon Valley.

Doug deploys an end-game strategy that seeks to strengthen his client’s penultimate position by predicting future litigation outcomes well in advance. Once properly positioned, the lawsuit can either be tried to a court or resolved in settlement with maximal results. And while Doug zealously represents his clients with ruthless focus, he does so by adhering to high ethical standards of civility.

Some believe that success is only possible in the practice of law through a Faustian bargain of bad behavior and “alternative facts.” But Doug believes that marshaling the truth in a clear and coherent narrative is far more powerful than spin can ever be.

practice areas

Business Litigation, including contracts, partner disputes and breakups, employment discrimination, wage and hour, and employee misclassification matters

Real Estate Litigation, including purchase and sale of real property, landlord/tenant disputes, neighbor-to-neighbor disputes, HOA disputes, and actions against municipalities regarding zoning, variances, conditional use, building, demolition, and other permits

Intellectual Property Litigation, including copyright and trademark infringement actions for film, visual art, video games, apps, and IP on the internet

Malpractice Litigation, including professional liability actions against attorneys, accountants, architects, and real estate agents/brokers

Discovery Referee, for the adjudication of discovery motions, the resolution of objections made during depositions, and facilitating a lower-conflict discovery plan

  • ENA N. Beach, Inc. v. 524 Union St., 43 Cal. App. 5th 195 (2019). Obtained jury award, including punitive damages and prevailed on appeal against a landlord who defrauded our client seeking to start a sushi restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach.
  • Drenberg v. Song, No. CGC-17-563159 (S.F. Super. Ct. 2018). Successfully dismissed a lawsuit against our client (improperly) accused of misappropriating software code.
  • Burgoyne v. GoldsteinEnright, No. A148217, 2018 WL 1312262 (S.F. Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2018). Represented accountants at trial and on appeal accused of malpractice in the issuance of K1 partner tax forms.
  • Griffin v. Rosso Accountancy Corp., No. 1100086369 (JAMS Arb. 2017). Prevailed in arbitration against a defendant who broke a contract with our client in the purchase of an accountancy firm.
  • Fujimura v. EigoManga, LLC, No. CGC-14-542983 (S.F. Super. Ct. 2016). Won dismissal of an action for our client, a video game developer, who was sued by former partner alleging breach of contract and theft of intellectual property.
  • Wilton v. Handwerger, No. CV1202403 (Marin Super. Ct. 2014). Prevailed in jury trial against a neighbor who trespassed our client’s residential property, committing elder abuse.
  • Big Industries Productions LLC v. Fournier, No. 74-140-000297-12 S1M (Am. Arb. Assoc. 2013). Prevailed in arbitration on breach of contract, copyright infringement, and fraud, in a dispute between the producer and director of an indie-film.
  • Cal.-Nev. Annual Conference of United Methodist Church v. City and County of San Francisco, 173 Cal. App. 4th 1559 (2009). Prevailed in a seminal appeal against the City of San Francisco who sought to improperly deploy the power of landmarking to stop development of badly needed residential units.

Judge Pro Tem, San Francisco Superior Court, Discovery Dept., since 2014

Member of the Board of Directors, Conference of California Bar Associations, 2018-2021

Fee Arbitrator and Mediator for the San Mateo County Bar Association, since 2016

Member of the Board of Directors, San Mateo County Bar Association, 2017 to 2020

Mock Trial Coach at Aragon High School in San Mateo, California 2016 to 2020

Chair of the SMCBA Committee to the Conference of California Bar Associations, 2013 to 2018

Member of Arts Arbitration and Mediation Services Panel for California Lawyers for the Arts, Feb. 2013 to 2018

Chair of the San Mateo County Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Section, 2012 to 2017

publications & media

The Bogus Hiring Entity Defense to the ABC Misclassification Test, 2021 Bender’s Cal. Lab. & Emp. Bull. 243, 247 (2021). Arguing that under the California Supreme Court’s new Dynamex ABC labor misclassification standard and under AB 5, the legislation that codified and expanded that rule, workers are employees for the company for which they perform work--regardless of who "hires" them.

Money for Nothin’ and Copyright for Free, ISA (Nov. 20, 2017), https://www.networkisa.org/modules/articles/view/money-for-nothin-and-copyright-for-free. Discussing non-protectable aspects of copyrighted works.

Steal and Destroy Evidence Doctrine, S.F. Daily J., Aug. 9, 2016, at 1. Discussing the spoliation of evidence doctrine and the unintended consequences of converting the claim into a mere discovery sanction.

The Fifth Element, 14 Intell. Prop. L. Bull. 95 (2010). Discussing the unspoken “fifth element,” in the fair use exception to copyright infringement claims.

Why Fair Use Matters, New Matter, vol. 35, no. 2, 2010, at 24. Discussing why it is important, as a policy matter, to take advantage of the fair use exception.

Debate Team (Green Lamp Pictures 2008). Feature-length documentary; official selection at the San Francisco International Documentary Film Festival, 2008; aired in Summer 2009 on KQED, public television for Northern California.

Comment, Resurrection from a Death Sentence, 149 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1115 (2001). Arguing that capital sentences should be commuted to life when the wrongdoer experiences an authentic ethical transformation. Cited by the Utah Court of Appeal. See State v. Todd, 2007 UTApp 349, 349, ¶ 39.

Aside, Challenging Law Review Dominance, 149 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1601 (2001). Satirizing law review culture, the rules of citation, The Bluebook, and the publish-or-perish paradigm.


University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D. 2001 (Executive Editor of the Univ. of Pennsylvania Law Review)

University of California, Berkeley, A.B. in Philosophy, 1992 (member of the Cal. Debate Team)

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1991 Summer Session


Member of the State Bar of California (No. 219413)

California Real Estate Broker Licensee (No. 2049049)

Douglas Robbins
San Mateo, California

Initial consultations are always free of charge.
Whether we engage as your lawyers or not, we always keep your
communications privileged and confidential.