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California Trial Advocacy 2015


Speaker(s): Brendan P. Glackin, Carrie Mason, Donald W. Carlson, Doris Cheng, Eric M. Acker, G. Christopher Ritter, James J. Brosnahan, Joan M. Haratani, Linda E. Shostak, Michael J. PĂ©rez, Nanci L. Clarence, Robert J. Romero, Robert S. Arns, Simona A. Agnolucci, Stuart Gasner, Thomas J. Brandi, Wilma J. Gray
Recorded on: Aug. 5, 2015
PLI Program #: 57265

Thomas J. Brandi has tried cases to verdict in 17 jurisdictions and has obtained numerous jury verdicts ranging from $1 million to $1 billion.  A lawyer for more than 30 years, in 1993 Brandi started his own firm, The Brandi Law Firm, representing plaintiffs in serious injury and mass tort cases.  He was Consumer Attorneys of California Trial Lawyer of the year in 2004 (also nominated in 2002 and 2012), a four time nominee for Trial Lawyer of the Year for the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, and Best Lawyers' 2013 Lawyer of the Year in San Francisco for personal Injury.  Brandi has been included in Best Lawyers in America since 1994 and in the top 100 attorney rankings of Super Lawyers since 2004 and in the Top Ten for 2013.  He is past president of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers, a member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, American College of Trial Lawyers, American Board of Trial Advocates, and Litigation Counsel of America.  He is an adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco Law School and was named USF School of Law Alumnus of the Year in 2009 and Adjunct Professor of the Year in 2010.


Wilma J. Gray

McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Borges & Ambacher LLP
Partner since 2005.

A trial attorney in a defense practice which covers a variety of areas, including personal injury, construction injury, sports injury, product liability and lawsuits involving commercial lease or real estate agreements. 

Memberships:

  • State Bar of California
  • American Bar Association
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California
  • International Society of Barristers
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and National Representative for the San Francisco Chapter of ABOTA


Eric Acker is a partner and trial lawyer in the firm’s Intellectual Property Group. Mr. Acker has tried more than 50 trials (including more than 47 jury trials) in courtrooms across the country. Mr. Acker’s recent trials have involved a variety of technologies and significant legal issues. In the high-profile SCO v. Novell case, following a three-week trial, the jury affirmed our client Novell’s ownership of the copyrights to the UNIX software code and rejected SCO’s claim for damages of $100 to $200 million. Mr. Acker received a 2012 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award (CLAY Award) for the defense of Novell. Mr. Acker also successfully defended generic drug manufacturer Sandoz in trials under the Hatch-Waxman Act involving the MS drug Copaxone and the ICU sedative Precedex. During the past several years, Mr. Acker has tried patent cases in numerous jurisdictions, including New York, New Jersey, Utah, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

In addition to winning the CLAY award in 2012, Mr. Acker was named the 2014 Best Lawyers in America San Diego Litigation Patent Lawyer of the Year. He is also recommended as a leading lawyer by Best Lawyers in America 2009-2015 and Legal 500 US 2013, and was named a “California Local Litigation Star” in the 2013 and 2014 issues of Benchmark Litigation.

Prior to joining Morrison & Foerster in 1999, Mr. Acker spent ten years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Columbia and the Southern District of California. He is a past Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference for the Southern District of California, and also a Master in the Louis Welsh Inn of Court, San Diego Chapter. 

Mr. Acker was Phi Beta Kappa at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his B.S. He received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he served as an Associate Editor of the Michigan Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Primary Practices

Patent Litigation
Trials
Intellectual Property Litigation
Securities Litigation, Enforcement + White-Collar Criminal Defense

Education

University of California, Berkeley (B.S., 1985)

University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 1988)


Carrie Mason is a Senior Trial Consultant with more than 19 years of trial consulting experience in a broad range of cases, including:

 

Employment Disputes               Intellectual Property                  Insurance Coverage     

Securities                                  Class Actions                           Anti-trust

Contract Disputes                     Employer Liability                     White Collar Criminal

 

Ms. Mason has worked on hundreds of cases, including landmark civil and high profile criminal cases such as UC v. Genentech, US v. Martha Stewart, People of California v. Scott Peterson and People of California v. Knoller and Noel (the dog mauling case). Her experience extends to all aspects of trial consulting: case analysis, theme development, mock trial and focus group research facilitation and analysis, conceptualization of trial graphics, witness preparation, juror questionnaire development and evaluation, jury selection and post-verdict juror interviews.

Her representative JuryScope cases include:  WARF v Apple; JDS Uniphase Securities Litigation; SEC v Mozilo; Rambus v. Micron and Hynix; US v. William Ruehle; Rosen Capital Partners v. Merrill Lynch, a FINRA arbitration; and Ayyad v Sprint.

Ms. Mason has spoken on panels for the American Business Trial Lawyers, West Legal Education Center and the Practicing Law Institute, and teaches continuing legal education programs at law firms. She is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants.

Ms. Mason graduated from the University of California at Davis with a degree in English Literature and Psychology, and studied English Literature and Composition at the graduate level. Before entering trial consulting, she taught college English and was a food and music critic.


Donald W. Carlson is the Senior Founding Partner of Carlson, Calladine & Peterson LLP.

Mr. Carlson is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers; a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL), a Fellow in the International Society of Barristers, and is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), the four most prestigious invitation only organizations which recognize plaintiff and defense attorneys who have successfully tried numerous jury cases while demonstrating excellence and professionalism.  Mr. Carlson also is the current Northern California State Chair of the IATL and past President of San Francisco Chapter of ABOTA.  As well as authoring numerous articles on trial procedure and trial tactics, he is often asked to teach trial skills to the legal community and civility classes to law students.


Education

University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1981
Dartmouth, B.A., summa cum laude, 1976

Prior Experience

Assistant United States Attorney, District of Hawaii
Williams & Connolly, Washington, DC

Clerkships

Hon. Roger Robb
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1981-1982

Overview

Stuart Gasner centers his practice in the areas of white collar criminal and securities defense, intellectual property litigation and complex corporate disputes.  A federal prosecutor before joining Keker & Van Nest, Mr. Gasner has tried more than 20 cases to verdict before juries across the United States.

In the field of white collar crime and fraud, Mr. Gasner has 30 years of experience handling criminal trials and investigations, as well as related civil litigation.  His cases have spanned a wide range of subject areas, including securities fraud, banking-related crimes, economic espionage, tax shelters, mortgage-backed securities, accounting and revenue recognition fraud, insider trading, antitrust (including international cartels), industrial accidents, fire marshal investigations, computer crimes such as hacking, bribery, credit card fraud, mail and wire fraud, environmental crimes, conspiracy, and Food and Drug Administration crimes.

In the intellectual property arena, Mr. Gasner has represented many well-known corporations in patent and trade secret litigation, including Intel, TSMC, Hyperion Therapeutics, Corus Pharma, ASM, Harris Corporation, Network Appliance, the Industrial Technical Research Institute of Taiwan, Sportvision, and Tahoe Networks.  These cases have involved electronics technologies ranging from integrated circuit design and architecture, to semiconductor fabrication equipment, telecommunications, networking, and video graphics, as well as biotechnology topics such as small molecule drug discovery tools, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and regenerative medicine.

With respect to complex corporate litigation and disputes, Mr. Gasner's practice has encompassed a myriad of subject matters.  Many have involved the representation of law firms, investment partnerships, venture capital firms and their portfolio companies, advertising agencies, and biotechnology companies.


Michael J. Pérez is a trial lawyer who has amassed more than 40 civil trials and more than 40 criminal jury trials without a loss.  His practice focuses primarily on complex business litigation and class action litigation in the areas of intellectual property, Section 17200 claims and employment law.  As lead counsel, Mr. Pérez has successfully tried to verdict jury trials in the areas of trademark infringement, real estate investment loan class actions, employment-related matters, and Section 1983 actions on behalf of several municipalities.

In 2007, in only his second plaintiff’s jury trial, Mr. Pérez obtained an $188,000,000 jury verdict for his client in what is believed to be the largest defamation verdict in history. In that case, a Brooklyn jury in the Eastern District of New York awarded Mexican businessman Jose Ramiro Cantu of Mexico City, Mexico, $188,000,000 to compensate Mr. Cantu for damages he suffered as a result of defamatory statements made about him by Texas businessman Billy Flanigan.  The jury awarded $38,000,000 in economic damages and $150,000,000 in non-economic damages.

In 2014, Mr. Pérez obtained a jury verdict in excess of one billion dollars against the Petroleum Workers Union of the Republic of Mexico (an affiliate of PEMEX). After a long and contentious trial, a Houston jury found in favor of Arriba Limited, a company formed in 1984 by two Texas oilmen, when it concluded that a 1984 contract for the purchase of residual oil for refining in the U.S. was fully enforceable, and further determined that a 2004 settlement agreement between Arriba Limited and the Petroleum Workers Union was valid and enforceable. In reaching a decision, the jury was primarily tasked with determining if the individuals who signed each agreement on behalf of the Union had authority to do so. The jury concluded that the individuals did indeed have the authority to bind the Union.

Prior to establishing Pérez Vaughn & Feasby, Mr. Pérez was a partner in the business litigation practice group of San Diego’s oldest and largest law firm.  Mr. Pérez is also a former Counsel to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and then U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.  Prior to working in Washington, D.C., Mr. Pérez served as General Counsel to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for three years. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California where he conducted numerous grand jury investigations and indictments, international financial investigations, and public corruption and drug trafficking trials and appeals.

As a native San Diegan and active member of the community, Mr. Pérez serves on numerous non-profit boards including the MLK, Jr. All People’s Breakfast Committee, the UCSD Hispanic Scholarship Council, and Volunteers in Parole, Inc.  He is also a Master in the William B. Enright Inn of Court.

Mr. Pérez is a former member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees, and past President of the California La Raza Lawyers Association.  Mr. Pérez earned his JD from the UCLA School of Law in 1990, and began his legal career at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP where he spent five years specializing in intellectual property litigation.  Mr. Pérez graduated from Stanford University in 1987 with a double major in Biology and Psychology, with dual honors.


Nanci L. Clarence is a founding partner of Clarence Dyer & Cohen LLP in San Francisco where she specializes in the defense of white-collar criminal investigations and prosecutions, including securities, antitrust, trade secret, banking and other business and environmental crimes as well as civil litigation and internal investigations.  She is also a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel, and represents indigent criminal defendants in trial and capital habeas corpus matters.

Ms. Clarence is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is the immediate past chair of the Federal Criminal Procedure Committee.  Currently, she is Vice Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission Practitioner's Advisory Group.  Ms. Clarence is past President of the Bar Association of San Francisco and has been named was named as one of the “Top 75 Women Litigators” in California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal.  Chambers USA has described Ms. Clarence as “extremely clever and dynamic” as well as “a great advocate for her clients” and a “go-to lawyer’ in the Bay Area.”  Before founding her firm, Ms. Clarence was a litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco and an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of California.


Promoting Fair Competition in Technology Markets

A dedicated antitrust and securities fraud litigator, Brendan P. Glackin possesses a wealth of litigation and trial experience.

Brendan’s successful cases at Lieff Cabraser include, most recently, the High-Tech Employees class action alleging that major Silicon Valley firms colluded to reduce competition for workers. Brendan successfully argued for certification of a class of over 64,000 employees of seven different companies; after vigorous litigation the High-Tech team recovered a total of $435 million, the largest recovery ever in an employee class action against private employers.

In 2013, Brendan represented direct purchasers of titanium dioxide in a nationwide antitrust class action lawsuit. The complaint alleged that defendants coordinated increases in the prices for titanium dioxide despite declining demand, decreasing raw material costs, and industry overcapacity. After litigating the case to within days of trial, the class reached a series of settlements totaling $163.5 million.

Brendan also played a significant role in litigation against a cartel of the world’s leading liquid crystal display (LCD) manufacturers. Over the course of the litigation, the direct purchaser class reached settlements with all defendants except Toshiba. The case against Toshiba proceeded to trial. Brendan, working under Co-Lead Counsel Richard Heimann, put on all expert testimony for the plaintiffs, examined numerous other witnesses, and argued motions in limine and jury instructions. In July 2012, the jury found Toshiba liable. The case was subsequently settled, bringing the total direct purchaser settlements in the LCDs antitrust litigation to over $470 million.

In 2011, Brendan was one of the trial counsel for distributors and retailers in an antitrust class action against Abbott Laboratories charging that the company quintupled the price of Norvir, a crucial AIDS “booster” drug, in order to force patients to reject superior competing drugs in favor of Abbott’s combination therapy, Kaletra. After opening statements and the presentation of four witnesses and evidence to the jury, plaintiffs and Abbott Laboratories entered into a $52 million settlement.

Brendan presently serves on the Lieff Cabraser team representing The Charles Schwab Corporation in a suit against the world’s major banks for allegedly manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which is used as a global reference rate by financial institutions. Brendan also serves on the Lieff Cabraser team representing the indirect purchaser class in the lithium-ion batteries price-fixing case.

Brendan is a frequent speaker on antitrust law and complex class actions. He also teaches trial advocacy through the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). As a Deputy Public Defender in Contra Costa County, Brendan took more than twenty felony and misdemeanor cases to trial.

 

Areas of Practice

Antitrust & Intellectual Property
Securities & Investor Fraud

 

Education

Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

J.D. (Cum Laude) - 1998

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

A.B. - 1995

 

Bar Admissions

California, 1998

New York, 2000

U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, 2013

U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2004

U.S. District Court Central District of California, 2001

U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 2001

U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 2001

U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 2001

U.S. District Court District of Colorado, 2001

U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, 2001

 

Professional Associations and Memberships

Bar Association of San Francisco Antitrust Section, Executive Committee State Bar of California

 

Honors and Awards

“Super Lawyer for Northern California,” Super Lawyers, 2013 - 2014

 


Robert J. Romero is a trial lawyer emphasizing insurance coverage disputes, professional liability suits, and complex commercial matters. He has first chaired numerous jury and bench trials throughout California, and has litigated significant matters in Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii. He has also served as appellant counsel in a number of reported decisions.

Mr. Romero also acts as counsel to several Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP clients, providing counsel nationwide in high exposure cases, which present issues in first and third party coverage, professional liability coverage, and cases frequently involving catastrophic loss, extra-contractual, and punitive damage exposure.

Mr. Romero continues to devote a considerable portion of his practice to the defense of lawyers, insurance and financial brokers, real estate and design professionals. That work, which involves a disciplined approached to the “case within a case” has led to cases in the commercial litigation arena, notably to defense at trial and arbitration on behalf of Fortune 50 clients of the firm.

Moreover, his known skill as a trial lawyer has led to several clients to retain him in catastrophic bodily injury and product liability claims that are unable to be resolved short of trial.

Mr. Romero is the Partner-in-Charge of the San Francisco office, and serves on Hinshaw's seven member Management Committee, the firm’s principle governing body.

Service Areas

Commercial Litigation

Insurance & Reinsurance

Insurance Coverage

Litigators for the Profession®

Professional Liability

Education

J.D., University of California, Davis, School of Law, 1988

B.A., California State University, Sacramento, 1985

Admissions

California

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona

U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California


Robert S. Arns, the founder of The Arns Law Firm, an 11-lawyer plaintiffs’ firm with offices in San Francisco and Reno, has resolved over a billion dollars of plaintiff cases. Bob has exclusively specialized in prosecuting plaintiff cases including consumer class actions and representing families who have had catastrophic events occur in their lives, including serious injuries and death caused by defective products, construction site incidents and other scenarios.

Bob introduces himself as a “family lawyer,” not because he does dissolution cases, but because he represents families that are going through terrible times because of a serious injury or death to a family member. Bob has loved every day of practicing law and believes that his job is the most gratifying and rewarding job imaginable.

Bob has been SFTLA Trial Lawyer of the Year and a finalist many times as well as a finalist of Consumer Attorneys of California Trial Lawyer of the Year many times.  He is a professor of law at the University of San Francisco, teaching trial practice and was USF Law School alumni of the year in 2009 and professor of the year in 2010. He is a frequent presenter of ABOTA Masters of Trial and a frequent lecturer on consumer issues.  He is recognized as   one of the “Top 100” Super Lawyers in Northern California and Best Lawyers of America and has an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell.

Bob is the author of the best selling Rutter Group Practice Guides, The Evidence Wheel and The Trial Wheel which are used by trial lawyers and judges throughout the United States.

Bob owns his Reno and SF office buildings. San Francisco has a built-in mock trial center including the ability to mock try a case to 36 mock jurors and break into three 12 juror deliberation panels which are videotaped.

He has argued numerous cases in front of appellate courts, including the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and has resolved over a billion dollars of cases via verdict and settlement.

Bob has graduated from UCSB in 1971 with Highest Honors and graduated from the University of San Francisco School Of Law in 1975 with honors where he was Managing Editor of the Law Review and Moot Court Champion.

Bob and his wife Anne have a son and daughter and four grandchildren and Bob spends as much time as possible with them.  Bob is involved in numerous civic, charitable, athletic and educational programs. Bob is an avid fly fisherman and owns a fishing lodge in Alaska. Bob pursues tennis, golf, cycling and an intense workout regime. Bob is also involved in numerous real estate ventures and is the proprietor of Tournesol Winery in Napa Valley which produces Bordeaux varietal wine.


Simona Agnolucci is a partner at Keker & Van Nest, where she specializes in high-stakes complex litigation, including intellectual property matters, securities cases, white collar criminal defense and commercial disputes. Her clients have included medical device manufacturers, brokerage companies, investment advisors, smartphone manufacturers, and leading law firms. Ms. Agnolucci has been an active member of trial teams in both state and federal courts. She second-chaired the high-profile, two-month federal criminal jury trial in United States v. Liew.

Ms. Agnolucci has an active pro bono practice, in which she primarily represents women fleeing gender-based persecution. Her groundbreaking pro bono work has been recognized by national media, including the New York Times.

Ms. Agnolucci speaks Italian, French and Spanish.

Education
UC Hastings College of the Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 2006
Stanford University, B.A, with honors, 1998

Clerkships
Hon. William C. Canby, Jr.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2006-2007

Externships
Hon. John T. Noonan
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2005

Hon. J. Anthony Kline
California Court of Appeal, 2004

Prior Experience
Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin PC

Bar Admissions
California


James J. Brosnahan is Senior Trial Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP and is one of the most respected and recognized trial lawyers in the United States. He regularly undertakes complex cases that are about to go to trial. He has tried, to conclusion, 150 cases.

His cases have ranged from anti-trust to wire fraud and from patent litigation to white collar crime and murder.  This year he represented the former President of the Board of Education in San Francisco in a case charging murder for hire. Mr. Brosnahan is named among the top 30 trial lawyers in the United States, according to the Legal 500 US 2013. Mr. Brosnahan has more than 55 years of expertise in both civil and criminal trial work.

Mr. Brosnahan has received numerous honors and recognition throughout his distinguished career. In 2012, he was recognized as a Lifetime Achiever by The American Lawyer for outstanding professional success and a devotion to public service.  Other professional recognitions include White-Collar Crime/Government Investigations (2005-2012), and Trial Lawyers (2009- 2012). He has been recommended as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA every year since its launch. He is also ranked in the Best Lawyers in America 2014 (for the past 29 years), Benchmark Litigation 2013, The Best of the Best USA Litigation 2013, Euromoney’s Expert Guides.

Mr. Brosnahan is a past president of the Bar Association of San Francisco, whose Volunteer Legal Service Program he founded. He also serves as Master Advocate on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

Mr. Brosnahan teaches regularly in continuing legal education programs at law schools and to professional organizations on various topics. His expertise includes overall trial strategies in planning, discovery, and jury selection as well as evidence, first amendment, criminal, antitrust, constitutional law, appellate, legal argument, civil procedure, torts, and legal ethics.  He is also a frequent keynote speaker at legal conferences and bar association programs around the country.

For more details of James J. Brosnahan’s autobiography, please visit the following link: http://www.mofo.com/people/b/brosnahan-james-j


Over the past three decades, Joan M. Haratani has honed crisis management and courtroom skills in high-exposure cases. A co-lead counsel on some of the largest mass tort litigations in the United States, Joan defends her clients in class actions, product liability litigation, complex licensing agreements, and trade secret indemnity issues. While her litigation experience spans industries, including retail and finance, she focuses much of her practice on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Joan’s practice spans state and federal law, including the Alien Tort Statute, California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), pharmaceutical and medical device liability doctrines, and national mortgage foreclosure issues.

Her crisis work includes serving as one of the lead national counsel in litigations involving the possible contamination of a blood product with hepatitis C. That case resulted in a worldwide recall. Joan also represented a major food manufacturer in a high-exposure product liability case alleging the product resulted in apoplexia to an infant, with a demand for more than $50 million in compensatory damages alone. As first chair trial lawyer, she reached a favorable settlement just as the trial was about to begin. She frequently represents medical device makers in product liability cases, including litigation involving surgical equipment and implantable intraocular lenses.

As co-lead counsel on behalf of a Fortune 50 retail company, Joan secured a dismissal at the federal court level in a worldwide class action concerning breach of contract allegations. That decision was later affirmed by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Currently, she serves as one of the firm’s national counsel for a financial institution.

Known for her work as a California litigator, Joan has been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Lawyers in California" and as a "Top 75 Women Litigator" by the Daily Journal. She was selected by the corporate members of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association as a "Female Litigator on the Rise" in Diversity & the Bar. She was also named one of the 500 most influential Asian Americans in America by Avenue Asia Magazine.

Joan plays an active role in the legal community, and has served as a member of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. She also served as president for the Bar Association of San Francisco, the first woman of color to hold that position. She is also a past president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, as well as past regional governor of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She is a past board member of several philanthropic organizations, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Northern California (Team In Training).


Widely recognized for her legal work, Ms. Cheng has been ranked as one of the top 50 women lawyers in Northern California. She is listed among the Best Lawyers of America®, SuperLawyers® and San Francisco Best Lawyers. Specializing in complex injuries caused by third party negligence, Ms. Cheng has obtained multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of disabled citizens throughout California. She completed a $13,500,000 settlement on behalf of 60-year-old gentleman who suffered severe brain damage due to carbon monoxide poisoning; a $6,800,000 award on behalf of a mother and her child for birth injuries resulting in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy to the child; and a global $14,250,000 settlement on behalf of a 45-year-old man who suffered severe burn injuries in an industrial accident.

A frequent guest lecturer and adjunct professor, Ms. Cheng has trained lawyers and judges nationally and internationally. As part of the Rule of Law Initiative, she has had the privilege of training trial lawyers and judges in Mexico, Kosovo, Macedonia and the multiple Caribbean countries.  She has also collaborated and trained with civil practitioners in Singapore and Belfast. This past year, she led trial skills training for criminal prosecution offices in Glasgow, Scotland and multiple Caribbean countries.

Ms. Cheng is the Program Director for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy's Western Region Advocacy Teacher Training Program. In 2012, she was awarded the Robert E. Keeton Award for outstanding service by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. She is the 2015 recipient of the University of San Francisco Professional Achievement Award.

Ms. Cheng is involved in local bar associations and community organizations. She is the current Secretary of the San Francisco Bar Association and immediate Past President of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.  She is a former Chair of the Civility Matters! Program and current national representative for the American Board of Trial Advocates (San Francisco Chapter).  She is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers. She serves as a member of the Kaiser Arbitration Oversight Board.  

She is a co-author of the eminent Rutter Group California Practice Guide on Personal Injury, and the trial practice guide, Mastering the Mechanics of Civil Jury Trials.


Chris Ritter joined The Focal Point in 1998 after several years as a partner and trial lawyer at a major San Francisco law firm.  He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and is a former faculty member at University of California Hastings College of the Law, where he taught trial practice, evidence, and legal writing.  Chris is a master at clarifying the complex and making esoteric themes understandable and compelling.  His courtroom experience is also instrumental in creating strategically sound, clearly delineated, and creatively convincing presentations and storylines designed to win.  An accomplished author, he wrote Creating Winning Trial Strategies and Graphics, Powerful Deliberations: Putting It All Together for the Jury, and The Trial War Room Handbook, all published by the American Bar Association, and all lauded as definitive works in the field.


Ms. Shostak has specialized in litigation and trial work. She has tried multiple cases to jury verdict, including employment law matters, commercial disputes, libel, and criminal cases. Ms. Shostak also has substantial experience with bench trials and arbitrations. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. She recently scored a trial victory, as first chair, in a precedent-setting Proposition 65 case in defense of 16 food manufacturers.

Ms. Shostak has particular experience litigating and trying employment law matters, representing both public and private sector clients,  and  on a limited basis, individual plaintiffs. She also obtained a multi-million-dollar verdict in a sexual harassment case against a governmental entity.

Ms. Shostak has tried a variety of discrimination claims, including disability, national origin discrimination, sexual harassment, failure to hire/promote, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. On occasion, Ms. Shostak has also represented a single corporate defendant who has become the target of a series of lawsuits orchestrated by various plaintiff groups. Ms. Shostak successfully disposed of a series of such cases, including a jury trial resulting in a defense verdict on behalf of a major technology company.

Ms. Shostak also has substantial experience both in class actions and the defense of Bus. & Prof. Code section 17200. She obtained a complete defense verdict for a research subsidiary of a major pharmaceutical company wherein the plaintiff alleged that he was fraudulently induced to accept employment with the company. Ms. Shostak tried, in defense of a major title insurance company, two successive jury trials, totaling some six months in length, on the subject of employee movement between competitors and trade secret theft. These cases resulted in comparatively low plaintiffs’ verdicts with total success on the trade secret defense. On behalf of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Ms. Shostak successfully settled an equal pay class action, involving approximately 3,000 potential class members, after obtaining summary judgment against the lead plaintiff, causing the plaintiffs to abandon their class equal pay claims, and reducing Lawrence Livermore’s exposure to liability on the remaining claims.

Ms. Shostak has lectured extensively on a variety of professional subjects. She has taught at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, spoken on panels for the Libel Defense Research Counsel, and has been a frequent lecturer for CEB, the Rutter Group, ABA, and ABTL. Ms. Shostak is a former chair of the San Francisco Bar Association’s Litigation Section, and has been profiled in The American Lawyer and Forbes. Since 2004, San Francisco Magazine has listed Ms. Shostak as one of Northern California’s “Super Lawyers.” She has also been recognized as one of the top lawyers in the field of employment and labor law by Best Lawyers in America (2008 – 2015), the Daily Journal (2012), and Corporate Counsel (2008).

Ms. Shostak received her B.A. from Vassar College in 1970, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received highest honors. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1973. Ms. Shostak has been with Morrison & Foerster for more than 40 years, beginning as an associate in 1974, and then as a partner in 1979. From 1973 to 1974, Ms. Shostak was associated with the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Ms. Shostak is a member of the California and New York bars.