James M. Wagstaffe

James M. WagstaffeJames (Jim) M. Wagstaffe, partner and co-founder of the firm, handles a diverse range of litigation matters and also leads the firm’s successful Federal Practice Group. His practice focuses on complex litigation, professional and governmental representation, will and trust disputes, legal ethics and First Amendment matters. Jim also authored the “Rutter Practice Guide” on pre-trial Federal Civil Procedure, which has been cited on over 1200 occasions.  In addition, Jim is recognized as an authority and frequently is consulted by other law firms and clients alike on complicated civil procedure, attorneys’ fees and trial practice issues. Currently, Jim is acting as lead litigation counsel for Susan Williams in the trust disputes that have arisen regarding the death of her late husband, comedian/actor, Robin Williams.

Cutting Edge Litigator

Jim’s reputation as litigator is exemplified by his frequent retention in high stakes cases where his strategic and procedural expertise is particularly invaluable. For instance, this past year Jim represented lawyers and law firms in high level trials, obtaining a $5 million jury judgment for a law firm partner suing for breach of contract, and also successfully defending at trial a lawyer/Trustee sued for over $100 million by disgruntled beneficiaries.

Jim’s practice includes substantial work on virtual world issues, including electronic discovery, related legal ethics questions, and Wi-Fi technology. He was the successful lead attorney in the seminal e-discovery case, Qualcomm, Inc. v. Bathchelder et al., 327 Fed. Appx. 877 (Fed. Cir. 2008). Several years ago he began representing the Australian government in high profile litigation involving the patent for indoor wireless technology. See Microsoft Corp. v. Commonwealth Scientific and Indus. Research Organisation, 297 Fed. Appx. 970 (Fed. Cir. 2008). Jim and the firm continue to represent the Australian government in litigation over its WiFi patents.

The State Bar of California has looked to Jim for over 15 years to handle its most challenging cases, including those raising serious constitutional issues. For example, Jim recently successfully argued the high-profile in re Garcia case before the California Supreme Court.  In Warden v. State Bar of California, 21 Cal.4th 628 (1999), Jim also represented the Bar in a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs alleged the exemptions from the MCLE (continuing education) program were unconstitutional. The matter went up to the California Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Bar.

Jim is considered one of the most sought after First Amendment/defamation lawyers in the country. He has represented broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, celebrities and public officials, as well as a host of others – both as plaintiff and defendant. He has been the lawyer on many of the leading anti-SLAPP cases in California and has tried more defamation cases to trial than perhaps any attorney in the state. Jim’s First Amendment and media experience is exemplified by his successful defense of The New Yorker Magazine in the libel trial Masson v. New Yorker, 832 F. Supp. 1350 (N.D. Cal. 1993), aff’d 85 F.3d 1394 (9th Cir. 1996).

Appellate Lawyer

In addition to his leadership as a trial lawyer, Jim heads up the firm’s appellate practice. Jim handles appeals in both state and federal courts, representing clients seeking to affirm a favorable trial court decision as well as those whose goal it is to obtain a reversal. Jim has established an enviable track record on appeal and has led the way in a number of groundbreaking decisions. For example, Jim has numerous recent appellate victories for governmental parties including achieving a total victory in a multimillion dollar takings case for the City of San Rafael MHC v. San Rafael, 714 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2013) obtaining an affirmance of a civil rights dismissal, Douglas v. Town of Portola Valley, (9th Cir. 2012) 468 Fed. Appx. 728, and a CEQA victory for the City of Redwood City in Wilson & Wilson v. City Council of Redwood City, (2011) 191 Cal. App. 4th 1559.

In Kremen v. Cohen, 337 F 3d 1024 (9th Cir. 2003), Jim secured a sweeping victory from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a landmark decision with far reaching implications in all areas of domain name registration and Internet infrastructure. Similarly, in Theofel v. Farey Jones, 359 F.3d 1066 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 813 (2004), Jim succeeded in obtaining a reversal of the district court’s dismissal of his clients’ lawsuit in a published decision that established new boundaries on subpoenas aimed at email communications.

Businesses, individual, and government entities and agencies, and notably, other lawyers, are among the many clients who seek out Jim to represent them at trial and on appeal. See, e.g., Lintz v. Lintz, 222 Cal.App.4th 1346 (2014) (leading case in state on defamatory capacity); In re Apple, Device Address Book Litigation (2014) (appointed lead attorney in nationwide class action); In re Cathode Ray Tube Antitrust litigation (2013) (attorneys for Dell Computer in national class action); In his almost three decades of appellate experience, Jim has represented parties and amici on appeal in matters involving constitutional and civil rights claims, defamation cases, environmental/CEQA, probate disputes, securities fraud, and consumer rights, just to name a few. A listing of Jim’s appellate cases is set forth below.

Author, Speaker, Professor

In addition to Jim’s courtroom experience, Jim has authored and co-authored a number of publications, including the widely-used Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2013 – Three Volumes, 3,500 pages, cited in over 1,000 published decisions), the nation’s leading practice guide on federal court practice. Jim’s other publications include: California Trial Evidence (Practisinig Law Institute; Litigation and Administrative Practice Course Handbook Series) (PLI 2013); Game Changers: New Federal Rule Amendments (Thomson Reuters 2011); California Legal Ethics (TRG 1999); Commencing and Removing Actions to Federal Court (TRG 1986); “Much Ado About Doe Defendants,” 5 Cal. Lawyer, No. 9; and “Life After Remand” Federal Litigation. In addition to his legal publications, Jim authored Romancing the Room (Random House), a spirited step-by-step guide to effective public speaking. He also was a contributing author with Donald Trump, Larry King, and Ira Glass, among others, to The Expert’s Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do (Clarkson Potter 2004).

Jim is committed to sharing his knowledge and experience with judges, lawyers and students alike. Jim has served as an instructor at the Federal Judicial Center’s annual “New Judges Workshop” since 1990, educating newly-appointed federal judges on all aspects of federal procedure. Throughout the year, Jim has been asked to present, moderate and participate in panel discussions and seminars throughout the country with other judges and lawyers on current topics of interest to the legal community. In conjunction with the Practising Law Institute, Jim was the Chair of 2013 California Trial Evidence program in October, 2013. The program was a day long legal educational program focusing on the recent case law and statutory developments in the law of trial evidence.

A listing of a representative sampling of Jim’s presentations is set forth below.  In addition, Jim is an adjunct professor in constitutional law and civil procedure at Hastings College of the Law and in Media Law at San Francisco State University. He has also taught the Practical Speech Communication course at Stanford University for over 30 years.

Professional Memberships

American Bar Association

California Bar Association

Bar Association of San Francisco

Federal Bar Association


Stanford University, B.A. 1977 (with distinction in Communications)
University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D. 1980

Awards and Recognition

This past year, Jim was appointed to serve as a member and Chair of the Federal Judicial Center Foundation Board by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In addition to the previously mentioned honors, in 2009 and 2011, Jim was selected by the students at Hastings College of the Law as the Teacher of the Year and was chosen each year to be the graduation speaker at commencement. In 2011, Jim won the Federal Judicial Center’s Judge John R. Brown Award for Judicial Scholarship and Education, recognizing Jim as the top teacher in the country of federal judges.

Jim has also received numerous awards and recognition for his legal work. For example, in 2005, he received a Peabody Award for his legal counsel on the documentary “The DNA Project.” In December 1999, California Lawyer named him as one of its Top Twenty Lawyers of the Year, followed by his selection each years as a Super Lawyer, an honor given to the top 5% of attorneys practicing in Northern California. And in 1991, Jim received the prestigious James Madison Freedom of Information Award from The Society of Professional Journalists

Published and Westlaw Cases

  • Radware Ltd. v. A10 Networks, Inc.,  __f.Supp.2d__ 2014 WL 1572644 (N.D. Cal. April 18, 2014)
  • In re White, __Fed. Appx. ___, 2014 WL 1101304 (March 21, 2014)
  • Radware, Ltd. v. A10 Networks, Inc., 2014 WL 631537 (N.D. Cal. February 14, 2014)
  • Opperman v. Path, Inc., 2014 WL 246972 (N.D. Cal. January 22, 2014)
  • Lintz v. Lintz, 222 Cal.App.4th 1346 (Cal. App. 6th Dist. January 14, 2014)
  • Radware, Ltd. v. A10 Networks, Inc., __ F.Supp. 2d __, 2014 WL 116428 (N.D. Cal. January 10, 2014)
  • In re Garcia, 58 Cal. 4th 440 (Supreme Court of CA 2014)
  • Graham-Sult v. Clainos, 738 F.3d 1131 (9th Cir. 2013)
  • Sander v. State Bar of Cal, 58 Cal.4th 300
  • Pagtakhan v. Doe, __ F.Supp. 2d __, 2013 WL 639639 (N.D. Cal. November 21, 2013)
  • Harper v. Lugbauer, __ F.Supp.2d __, 2013 WL 5978321 (N.D. Cal. November 8, 2013)
  • Nahat v. Ballet San Jose, Inc., 2013 WL 5934705 (N.D. Cal. November 1, 2013)
  • Opperman v. Path, Inc., __ F.Supp. 2d__, 2013 WL 5643334 (N.D. Cal. October 15, 2013)
  • Lintz v. Bank of America, N.A., 2013 WL 5432873 (N.D. Cal. September 27, 2013)
  • Abbey v. Fortune Drive Associates, LLC, 2013 WL 393462 (Cal App. 1st Dist. July 29, 2013)
  • MHC Financing Ltd. Partnership v. City of San Rafael, 714 F.3d 1118 2013 WL 1633067 (9th Cir. 2013)
  • Graham-Sult v. Clainos, 2013 WL 1190294 (N.D. Cal. March 21, 2013)
  • Bigler v. Harker School, 213 Cal.App.4th 727
  • Harper v. Lugbauer, 2012 WL 1499174 (N.D. Cal. April 9, 2012)
  • Douglas v. Town of Portola Valley, 468 Fed. Appx. 728 (9th Cir. 2012)
  • Doe v. University of Pacific, 467 Fed. Appx. 685 (9th Cir. 2012)
  • Ricciardi v. California, 2011 WL 6413766 (S.D. N.Y. December 13, 2011)
  • Wilson & Wilson v. City Council of Redwood City, 191 Cal.App.4th 1559 (2011)
  • Sander v. State Bar of California, 196 Cal.App.4th 614 (2011)
  • Elder v. National Conference of Bar Examiners, 2011 WL 4079623 (N.D. Cal. September 12, 2011)
  • Herson v. City of Richmond, 2011 WL 3516162 (N.D. Cal. August 11, 2011)
  • Cho v. UCBH Holdings, Inc., 2011 WL 3809903 (N.D. Cal. May 17, 2011)
  • Adetuyi v. City and County of San Francisco, 2011 WL 1878853 (Cal App. 1st Dist. May 17, 2011)
  • ZL Technologies, Inc. v. Gartner Group, Inc., 2011 WL 1831704 (9th Cir. May 13, 2011)
  • Digital Video Systems, Inc. v. Sun, 2011 WL 1134662 (Cal.App. 6th Dist. March 29, 2011)
  • In re Mercury Interactive Corp. Securities Litigation, 2011 WL 826797 (N.D. Cal. March 3, 2011)
  • Elder v. National Conference of Bar Examiners, 2011 WL 672662 (N.D. Cal. February 16, 2011)
  • Roe ex rel. Rodriguez Borrego v. White, 395 Fed.Appx. 470 (9th Cir. 2010)
  • In re D.R., 185 Cal.App.4th 852 (2010)
  • ZL Technologies, Inc. v. Gartner, Inc., 709 F.Supp.2d 789 (N.D. Cal. 2010)
  • In re Estate of Gridley, 2010 WL 4102359 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. October 19, 2010)
  • Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians v. Sharp Image Gaming, Inc., 2010 WL 4054232 (E.D. Cal. October 15, 2010)
  • Sand Hill Advisors, LLC v. Sand Hill Advisors, LLC, 2010 WL 3703029 (N.D. Cal. September 16, 2010)
  • Geographic Expeditions Inc. v. Estate of Jason Lhotka, 2010 WL 3516116 (N.D. Cal. September 8, 2010)
  • Bay Guardian Co. v. New Times Media LLC, 187 Cal.App.4th 438 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. August 11, 2010)
  • Douglas v. Town of Portola Valley, 2010 WL 2898736 (N.D. Cal. July 21, 2010)
  • Roe v. White, 2009 WL 4899211 (N.D. Cal. December 11, 2009)
  • ZL Technologies, Inc. v. Gartner, Inc., 2009 WL 3706821 (N.D. Cal. November 4, 2009)
  • Zurich American Ins. Co. v. Electronics for Imaging, Inc., 2009 WL 2252098 (N.D. Cal. July 28, 2009)
  • Konig v. Dal Cerro, 2009 WL 636518 (N.D. Cal. March 11, 2009)
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Indust. Research Organisation v. Buffalo Technology (USA), 2009 WL 260953 (E.D. Texas February 3, 2009)
  • Kuo v. Sun, 2009 WL 162730 (Cal.App. 6th Dist. January 26, 2009)
  • Sutton v. Llewellyn, 288 Fed.Appx. 411 (9th Cir. 2008)
  • Commonwealth Scientific & Indus. Research Organisation v. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., 297 Fed.Appx. 970 (Fed. Cir. 2008)
  • Qualcomm Inc. v. Batchelder, 327 Fed.Appx. 877 (Fed. Cir. 2008)
  • Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. v. Baxter Intern., Inc., 2008 WL 2020533 (N.D. Cal. May 8, 2008)
  • Commonwealth Scientific & Indus. Research Organisation v. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., 2008 WL 4680559 (Fed Cir. (Tex.) October 23, 2008
  • Konig v. Dal Cerro, 2008 WL 4628038 (N.D.Cal. October 16, 2008)
  • Gridley v. Gridley, 166 Cal.App.4th 1562 (2008)
  • In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings, 43 Cal.4th 1143 (2008)
  • Qualcomm Inc. v. Broadcom Corp., 2008 WL 638108 (S.D.Cal. March 5, 2008)
  • MHC Financing, Ltd. v. City of San Rafael, 2008 WL 440283 (N.D.Cal. February 12, 2008)
  • MHC Financing, Ltd. v. City of San Rafael, 2008 WL 440282 (N.D.Cal. January 29, 2008)
  • Arthur J. Gallagher, & Co., Inc. v. Edgewood Partners Ins., 2008 WL 205274 (N.D.Cal. January 23, 2008)
  • Levi v. State Bar of California, 2008 WL 53144 (N.D.Cal. January 2, 2008)
  • Poon v. Poon, 2007 WL 3360164 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. November 14, 2007)
  • O’Lee v. Compuware Corp., 2007 WL 963450 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. April 2, 2007)
  • People ex rel. Brown v. Tehama County Bd. of Sup’rs, 148 Cal.App.4th 790 (2007)
  • Coffee Lane Alliance v. County of Sonoma, 2007 WL 185478 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. January 25, 2007)
  • MHC Financial Ltd. Partnership v. City of San Rafael, 2006 WL 3507937 (N.D.Cal. December 5, 2006)
  • Sutton v. Llewellyn, 2006 WL 3371623 (N.D.Cal. November 21, 2006)
  • IntelCorp. v. Commonwealth Scientific and Indus. Research Organisation, 455 F.3d 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2006)
  • Big-D Const. Corp.-California v. Leprino Foods Co., 188 Fed.Appx. 563 (9th Cir 2006)
  • Franklin v. Terr, 174 Fed.Appx. 388 (9th Cir. 2006)
  • Miniace v. Pacific Martime Ass’n, 2006 WL 335389 (N.D.Cal. February 13, 2006)
  • In re Bay-Delta Programmatic Environmental Impact Report Coordinated Proceedings, 133 Cal.App.4th 154 (2005)
  • Schoenfeld v. Grabisch, 2005 WL 697975 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. March 28, 2005);
  • Schoenfeld v. Zwakenberg, 2005 WL 697990 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. March 28, 2005);
  • Z-Rock Communications Corp. v. William A. Exline, Inc., 2004 WL 2496158 (N.D.Cal. November 5, 2004);
  • Atkinson v. McLaughlin, 343 F. Supp.2d 868 (D.N.D. November 4, 2004);
  • Radil v. Sanborn Western Camps, Inc., 384 F.3d 1220 (10th Cir. 2004);
  • Central Garden & Pet Co., Inc. v. Scotts Co., 85 Fed.Appx. 633 (9th Cir. 2004)
  • Rader v. Sutter, 90 Fed.Appx. 268 (9th Cir.2004)
  • Boylan v. McGeever, 2004 WL 1794484 (N.D.Ill. August 10, 2004)
  • Olagues v. Stafford, 316 F.Supp.2d 393 (E.D. La. 2004)
  • Zack v. Marin Emergency Radio Authority, 118Cal. App. 4th 617 (2004)
  • Chapman v. Enos, 116 Cal.App.4th 920 (2004)
  • Martinez v. Marin Sanitary Service, 349 F. Supp. 2d 1234, (N.D.Cal. 2004)
  • Thoefel v. Farey Jones, 359 F.3d 1066 (9th Cir. 2004)
  • Hoffman v. State Bar of California, 113Cal. App. 4th 630 (2003)
  • Theofel v. Farey Jones, 341 F.3d 978 (9th Cir. 2003)
  • Airport Parking Services, Inc. v. City of San Bruno, 2003 WL 21205926 (Cal.App. 1st Dist. May 23, 2003)
  • Kremen v. Cohen, 337 F.3d 1024 (9th Cir. 2003)
  • Franklin v. Fox, 312 F.3d 423 (9th Cir. 2002)
  • Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority v. CC Partners, 101 Cal.App.4th 635 (2002)
  • Glenn K. Jackson Inc. v. Roe, 273 F.3d 1192, (9th Cir. 2001)
  • Lee v. American Nat. Ins. Co., 260 F.3d 997, (9th Cir. 2001)
  • Carnegie Mellon University v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., 148 F.Supp.2d 1004, (N.D.Cal. 2001)
  • Fricke-Parks Press, Inc. v. Fang, 149 F.Supp.2d 1175, (N.D.Cal. 2001)