Sean SeLegue, described as a "very astute lawyer" in Chambers,* has developed two distinct areas of focus over more than 30 years of law practice.
Appeals. Mr. SeLegue brings rigorous analysis, lively writing and creativity to his appellate practice. He emphasizes teamwork with trial counsel while ensuring the client gets objective advice based on a fresh assessment of the matter. Chambers casts him as a "a top-flight appellate attorney." He is a certified appellate specialist, State Bar of California, a member and officer of the selective California Academy of Appellate Lawyers and a member of the invitation-only American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Mr. SeLegue began his career in appellate law in 1991 with a clerkship for Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then, he has handled appeals in many areas, including energy law, products liability, real estate, partnership disputes, securities law, contract law and high-asset community property disputes in marital dissolution (divorce) cases.
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 dozens of lawyers and law firms. He has extensive experience in defending malpractice and malicious prosecution actions and attorney discipline defense. He has overseen internal investigations for law firms and has advised firms and appeared on their behalf, in investigations and inquiries by the State Bar and federal judges. Mr. SeLegue also has served as an expert witness.
*Chambers Ranking in Litigation: California Appellate category
- Estates and Trusts: Lead appellate counsel in California Supreme Court after grant of review in Barefoot v. Jennings, 8 Cal. 5th 522 (2020), regarding standing to challenge a trust.
- Law Firms: Obtained reversal of disqualification ruling in significant case for national law firm. California Self-Insurers' Fund v. Superior Court, 19 Cal. App. 5th 1065 (2018).
- Jurisdiction/Mass Actions: Persuaded California Supreme Court to grant review twice in matter regarding personal jurisdiction over claims brought by out-of-state plaintiffs in mass tort action. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 1 Cal. 5th 783 (2016), rev'd, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017).
- Retail Leasing: Obtained 82% reduction in judgment in a prominent dispute regarding co-tenancy clauses. Grand Prospect Partners, L.P. v. Ross Dress for Less, Inc., 232 Cal. App. 4th 1332 (2015).
- Real Estate: Secured reversal of ruling that a commercial real estate seller's duty to disclose and related warranty "merged" – i.e., disappeared – when deed was recorded. Ram's Gate Winery, LLC v. Roche, 235 Cal. App. 4th 1071 (2015).
- Law Firms: Persuaded the California Supreme Court to grant review and disapprove longstanding Court of Appeal precedent limiting the enforceability of contractual arbitration clauses between law firms and their clients. Schatz v. Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, LLP, 45 Cal. 4th 557 (2007).
- Business Dispute: Represented Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss at the Ninth Circuit concerning their dispute with Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook, Inc. v. ConnectU, Inc., 640 F.3d 1034 (9th Cir. 2011)
- High-Asset Marital Disputes: Appeals related to marital property and spousal support for clients that have included baseball player Barry Bonds, the principal owner of a supermarket chain, and a $23 million marital property dispute regarding a successful chemical business.
- Mergers and Acquisitions: Obtained affirmance of summary judgment in the Ninth Circuit of a $15 million claim against a hedge fund arising from a failed merger transaction (2008).
- Insurance Coverage (for carrier): Obtained affirmance of summary judgment in favor of insurer in coverage dispute. Evanston Ins. Co. v. OEA, Inc., 566 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2009).
- Insurance Coverage (for insured): Obtained affirmance of $3.6 million bankruptcy court judgment in favor of trustee. Continental Casualty Co. v. Chatz, 591 B.R. 396 (N.D. Cal. 2018).
Appellate Practice (2022-2023)
"San Francisco Lawyer of the Year" – Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law (2012, 2016, 2019)
- JD, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 1991, Order of the Coif
- BA, University of California, Los Angeles, 1988, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with departmental highest honors
- Supreme Court of the United States
- US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- US District Court, Central District of California
- US District Court, Eastern District of California
- US District Court, Northern District of California
- US District Court, Southern District of California
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, The Honorable Cynthia H. Hall
- Secretary-Treasurer, California Academy of Appellate Lawyers
- Member, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
- Member and former Chair, State Bar of California Board of Trustees (2016-present)
- Member, Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, State Bar of California (2005-2007)
- Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (Member, 1998 to 2002; Vice-Chair, 2002-2003; Chair, 2003-2004; Special Advisor, 2004-2005), State Bar of California
- 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, 2012-2016)
- Member, Board of Directors, Berkeley Law Alumni Association (2012-2018)
- Member and former Co-Chair, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom