Sean SeLegue focuses his practice in two areas in which he has decades of experience.

Appeals.  Mr. SeLegue brings rigorous analysis, lively writing and creativity to his appellate practice, which kicked off with a clerkship in 1991 to 1992 as a clerk to the Hon. Cynthia Holcomb Hall, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His philosophy emphasizes teamwork with trial counsel and ensuring the client gets objective advice based on a fresh perspective regarding strategies for success and likely outcomes on appeal. Sean is a certified appellate specialist, State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, and a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers.

Attorney Liability And Ethics.  A former Chair of the State Bar of California Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct, Mr. SeLegue has advised and represented lawyers and law firms for twenty years. He has substantial experience in defending malpractice and malicious prosecution actions and attorney discipline defense. He has overseen internal investigations for law firms and advised regarding investigations and inquiries by federal judges. Mr. SeLegue also has served as an expert witness.


  • Defended an action brought by a non-client against a national law firm in which the law firm was accused of making false representations to the Patent & Trademark Office during a patent prosecution. After obtaining dismissal from the federal district court in Los Angeles, also represented the law firm on appeal from the trial court's denial of attorneys fees under the California anti-SLAPP statute. After the opening brief was filed, the plaintiff agreed to settle the appeal by paying the law firm US$140,000 in fees.
  • Defended a legal malpractice action against a national law firm based on allegedly negligent handling of a patent infringement action that resulted in an award of sanctions and "diminution in value" of a patent. After partial discovery and extensive motion practice in Santa Clara County Superior Court, obtained an order sustaining the law firm's demurrer without leave to amend. 
  • Represented a public interest law firm concerning a disciplinary inquiry by a federal district judge in New York concerning the law firm's role as amicus curiae in a high-profile case.
  • Represented senior partner of a San Jose law firm in an 11-day State Bar Court trial on numerous disciplinary charges, resulting in a finding of culpability only as to the most minor charges along with findings by the hearing judge that the respondent lawyer provided "admirable legal representation under very difficult circumstances not of his own making, consistently put his clients' best interest first, and dealt with his clients in good faith."
  • Advice to Fortune 500 companies regarding professional responsibility issues related to in-house attorneys and outside counsel.

  • In malpractice action arising from allegedly mishandled merger transaction in which another firm had been retained by insurance carrier as defense counsel, retained by the defendant law firm as consultant to revise summary judgment and trial themes, leading to successful settlement.
  • Retained as expert witness in dispute between a law firm and a group of lawyers who departed to form another firm.
  • Retained by State of California agency to testify in a high-profile matter as an expert witness regarding the professional conduct of one of the agency's attorneys.
  • Advised Hong Kong law firm concerning its combination with large American firm.
  • Represented numerous clients in State Bar investigations of various allegations, including conflicts of interest, improper contact with opposing parties, excessive fees and imposition of sanctions by trial court.

*Updated as of September 2012. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.


Defending a Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff
State Bar Ethics Symposium (focused on professional responsibility issues for lawyers)
Money, Politics and Religion-As The Roberts Court Sees Them

Santa Fe Salon

Defending a Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff

18th Annual Statewide Ethics Symposium, Ethics 2014: Keeping Pace in a Constantly Changing Legal Environment, San Francisco, CA

Ethics & Environmental Law

Bar Association of San Francisco

Ethics of Appellate Practice

Santa Clara County Bar Association



The Best Lawyers in America 2016 "San Francisco Lawyer of the Year" for Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law
The Best Lawyers in America 2012-2016 for Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law
Northern California Super Lawyers 2004-2015


  • JD, University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), 1991, Order of the Coif
  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles, 1988, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with departmental highest honors
  • California
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • US District Courts for the Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of California
  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, The Honorable Cynthia H. Hall
  • Member, California Academy of Appellate Lawyers

  • State Bar of California Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2005-2007

  • State Bar of California Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (Member, 1998 to 2002; Vice-Chair, 2002-2003; Chair, 2003-2004; Special Advisor, 2004-2005)

  • Bar Association of San Francisco (Member, Executive Committee, Litigation Section, 2009-2012; Co-Chair, Legal Malpractice Section, 2011-2014)

  • American Bar Association (Member, Advisory Council to the "Ethics 2000" Commission; Vice Chair, Ethics Committee, Intellectual Property Section, 2012-present)

  • Board of Directors, Boalt Hall Alumni Association (Berkeley Law), 2012-present


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