Donald Putterman is a well-known and respected San Francisco litigator in practice for over forty years. Don concentrates his practice on complex, often highly-charged civil litigation requiring intense discovery, analysis and presentation of complicated factual and legal issues, including via extended trials, appeals and arbitrations. Typical cases are in the areas of business torts and unfair competition, commercial contract disputes, trade secrets (including but not limited to employment matters implicating trade secrets), fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, corporate and partnership governance, real property, defamation, trusts, attorney and accounting malpractice, and defense of class action consumer cases. Don also provides civil litigation representation in complex, high-value family law cases. Don’s cases usually involve overlap between several of these areas and are often unusual if not actually unique. Don’s experience also extends to fiduciary investigations and advising corporate directors, officers and general counsel on sensitive litigation-related and corporate governance issues.
The breadth of Don’s skills and experience enables him to bring a broad perspective and knowledge of the interplay of legal principles to litigation matters, including the importance of a deep understanding of the facts and controlling law of each case, and a highly-developed grasp of the strategy and tactics needed to develop, prepare and try cases effectively – and to compel favorable settlements from opposing parties (and their counsel) convinced that Don can and will take a case to trial or arbitration. Significantly, Don’s referrals typically come from other attorneys, including former opposing counsel.
Don appears in state and federal trial level and appellate courts throughout California and elsewhere and before JAMS and AAA arbitrators, and is an experienced trial, appellate and arbitration advocate; for example, within the last few years he argued a significant jurisdiction case before the Minnesota Supreme Court. He is at his best when clients are confronted with challenging circumstances requiring aggressive and focused attention and advocacy, strategic thinking and objective counseling to navigate perilous waters.
Don received his A.B. from the University of Chicago in 1973 with Honors in the College and in the Department of History. He is a 1979 graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, where he graduated in the top 1% of his class, was a member of Order of the Coif and the Thurston Society, and Senior Articles Editor of the Hastings Law Journal. From 1979 to 1988, Don was associated with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, and from 1988 to 1995 was first special counsel, and then a litigation partner, with Farella Braun + Martel. In 1995, he founded and thereafter chaired the civil litigation department at Sideman & Bancroft, where he later became managing partner. After a stint as a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman from 2008 to 2011, Don joined Logan & Giles to form Putterman Logan & Giles LLP. In 2016, Don joined Constance Yu to form Putterman Yu LLP (formerly Putterman Landry Yu LLP).
Don has been listed as a Northern California Super Lawyer since 2004, and in the prestigious, peer-reviewed Best Lawyers in America since 2006. Best Lawyers currently recognizes Don’s accomplishments in three areas (a rare honor): Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Litigation, and Securities Litigation. Based upon Don’s standing as a real estate litigator, U.S. News & World Report, in its survey of best law firms, lists Putterman Yu as a Tier One San Francisco law firm for real estate litigation through 2018. He also have been listed as “AV – Judicial” by Martindale-Hubbel.
Don has been recognized by America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators as one of the top 100 high stakes litigators for Northern California for 2019.
Don has lectured frequently on trial preparation and tactics, including teaching a moot court section at the University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law and as a faculty member at the annual College of Civil Advocacy formerly sponsored by Hastings. He was the 1999-2000 President of the Lawyers’ Club of San Francisco Inn of Court.
In addition to having argued numerous unpublished California and federal appellate cases, reported California and federal appellate cases in which Don has appeared as counsel of record include the following:
California Supreme Court
California Courts of Appeal