“Despite their vast resources, we take on the most powerful corporations in the United States and the world. Our attorneys make sure the truth is told and convince judges and juries that our client’s case is righteous.”
Robert J. Nelson
"One of the nation's premier plaintiffs' firms."
"Representing the best qualities of the plaintiffs' bar."
The National Law Journal
"Their effective and caring advocacy for clients has earned Lieff Cabraser its first-class reputation."
The Daily Journal
Holding Corporations Accountable
Robert has played a leading role in the firm's automotive, aviation, defective products, mass torts, tobacco, and qui tam (whistleblower) litigation, taking on many of the world's largest corporations and holding them accountable. Mr. Nelson has served as court-appointed Lead or Co-Lead Counsel in numerous state and federal coordinated proceedings, as well as in more than 20 class actions.
Robert served as lead trial counsel in a wrongful death action involving a defect in Chrysler vehicles that resulted in a punitive damage verdict of $50 million against the company. For his work on the case, Robert received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award and was Finalist for both the Consumer Attorneys of California Trial Lawyer of the Year award and the San Francisco Trial Lawyer Association's Trial Lawyer of the Year award. California Lawyer called the victory against Chrysler, "one of the year's largest personal injury verdicts,” and noted “this was the first park-to-reverse case against Chrysler in 25 years to make it to trial.”
In 2010, Robert accomplished the extremely rare feat of receiving a second CLAY award. He was recognized for his work as lead trial counsel in obtaining a $78.5 million whistleblower settlement against the University of Phoenix. The settlement is believed to be among the largest ever achieved under the False Claims Act in a case in which the U.S. Department of Justice did not intervene. Robert also played a lead role in firm's litigation against the tobacco companies by the attorney generals, which resulted in a settlement valued at more than $200 billion, the largest settlement in history.
Robert is a frequent lecturer on class action practice, as well as subject areas such as product liability and whistleblower cases. Before entering private practice, he served as a judicial clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and conducted numerous trials as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of California.
False Park Auto Defect Lawsuit
Whistleblower False Claims Act:
Record Settlement in Lawsuit
Awards & Honors
- "Litigation Star," Benchmark Plaintiff (ranked as one of the nation's top litigators for mass torts/product liability law), 2012
- "California Litigation Star," Benchmark Plaintiff (ranked as one of California's leading litigators in environmental litigation, False Claims Act, personal injury, and securities law), 2012
- "Northern California Super Lawyer," Super Lawyers, 2004-2012
- Best Lawyers in America, based on peer and blue ribbon panel review, selected for list of "San Francisco's Best Lawyers," 2012-2013
- "Lawdragon Finalist," Lawdragon, 2009-2011
- "California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY)" Award, California Lawyer, 2008, 2010
- "Consumer Attorney of the Year Finalist," Consumer Attorneys of California, 2007, 2010
- "San Francisco Trial Lawyer of the Year Finalist," San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association, 2007
- Judicial Clerk to Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit 1987-1988
- Assistant Federal Public Defender, Northern District of California, 1988-1993
- Legal Research and Writing Instructor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1989-1991 (part-time position)
- False Claims Roundtable, California Lawyer (June 2010)
- Product Liability Roundtable, California Lawyer (March 2010)
- Product Liability Roundtable, California Lawyer (July 2009)
- Co-Author with Elizabeth Cabraser, "Class Action Treatment of Punitive Damages Issues after Philip Morris v. Williams: We Can Get There From Here," 2 Charleston Law Review 2 (Spring 2008)
- Product Liability Roundtable, California Lawyer (December 2007)
- Contributing Author, California Class Actions Practice and Procedures (Elizabeth J. Cabraser, Editor-in-Chief, 2003)
- "The Importance of Privilege Logs," The Practical Litigator, Vol. II, No. 2 (ALI-ABA, March 2000)
- "To Infer or Not to Infer a Discriminatory Purpose: Rethinking Equal Protection Doctrine," 61 New York University Law Review 334 (1986)