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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, Mr. Robbins is a veteran trial lawyer and advocate. His practice focuses on business litigation, real estate disputes, employment controversies, professional liability, and entertainment law. Mr. Robbins cut his teeth serving as an intern for the United States Attorneys in San Francisco and Philadelphia. Subsequently, he practiced at one of the most prominent law firms in Silicon Valley, and then, for over a decade, as a name-partner for a boutique San Francisco firm specializing in complex commercial disputes and professional liability.

Mr. Robbins deploys the end-game strategy, oriented toward strengthening his client’s penultimate position by predicting, and then leveraging, future litigation outcomes. Once properly positioned, the lawsuit can either be tried to a court or resolved in settlement with maximal results. And contrary to certain conventional wisdom, Mr. Robbins is of the opinion that successful outcomes in the practice of law are often enhanced, not undermined by adherence to the State Bar's rules of professional civility.

practice areas

Business Litigation, involving breach of contract, partner disputes and breakups, employment discrimination, wage and hour, and labor misclassification matters

Real Estate Litigation, including the 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 for film, visual art, music, video games, apps, and internet IP

Malpractice Litigation, including professional liability actions for and 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, lower-cost discovery plan

  • Mejia v. Roussos Constr., Inc., 76 Cal. App. 5th 811 (2022). Prevailed on appeal, and on retrial, winning damages, civil penalties, and attorneys fees on four wage and hour claims, alleging that employer misclassified workers as independent contractors, when in fact, under law, they were employees.
  • Young v. Buchholz, Case No. 09-21-4489-8 (DFEH 2021). Successfully dismissed a discrimination and retaliation claim against landlord.
  • 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.
  • Hicks v. Yuen, Case No. 492236 (S.F. Super. Ct. 2011). Prevailed in a bench trial, prevailed on appeal, and prevailed in a parallel action before the Workers Compensation Administrative Court pertaining to worker claims that they were employees of our commercial-owner clients, improperly classified as 1099 contractors.
  • 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.

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

California Discovery Manual (2024). Legal practice guide and reference source for practitioners making and defending discovery motions in the California superior courts.

Other Limitations on Discovery, Practical Guidance (Lexis Nexis 2023). Discussing the non-statutory rights to privacy, statutory privileges, and certain other limitations on discovery in California.

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, workers are employees for the company for which they perform work--regardless of who "hires" them.

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.

Copyright Basics, CLA (Jul. 28, 2010). Introduction to U.S. copyright law and the limitations of copyright protection.

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.

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 California Debate Team)

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1991 Summer Session


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

California Real Estate Broker (No. 2049049)

Lawyer in blue suit jacket and blue tie at Pier 15 in San Francisco
Douglas Robbins
San Francisco Attorney and Litigator

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