Stephen H. Sutro ("Steve") is managing partner of the firm's San Francisco office and a member of the firm's governing Partners Board.
Steve is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for both commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense. Steve also has been repeatedly recognized as one of Northern California’s Super Lawyers in the area of white-collar criminal defense.
Current matters include the defense of a qui tam lawsuit filed against a large software company; prosecution of derivative litigation resulting in finding fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty against management and an award of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages; the defense of a CFO target of a federal grand jury investigation; and prosecution of several trade secret litigations wherein injunctive relief was imposed after findings of actual and threatened misappropriation.
Steve has led investigations and litigation on behalf of clients in matters involving government contracts and false claims, antitrust laws, securities fraud and insider trading, RICO, corporate governance, the environment, food and drug, homeland security and customs enforcement, trade secrets, and public corruption. From Arthur Andersen to the Varsity Blues college admissions cases, these matters have been noteworthy and significant. Steve necessarily is experienced in crisis management and managing responses to media in high profile investigations and litigation. The nature of his practice demands experience not only in the courtroom, but also in risk management and compliance, strategies to minimize potential criminal and civil liability, and committed advocacy in the pursuit of justice.
Steve is a fourth-generation San Francisco lawyer. He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Northern California Chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. He has written and lectured on such topics as internal corporate investigations, SEC enforcement, antitrust enforcement, insider trading, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), trade secret litigation, and joint defense agreements.
Steve also has been recognized for outstanding pro bono service by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and the Bar Association of San Francisco. He has volunteered on the boards and served as counsel for a number of non-profit corporations, and is a past President of The Guardsmen, a San Francisco organization that raises money for at-risk youth. Steve also serves on several for-profit Boards.
Steve is a graduate of the Santa Clara University School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 1994), where he was the Senior Comments Editor of the Santa Clara Law Review, a merit scholar, and now serves as a member of the School of Law Advisory Board. Steve is a 1991 graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
Counsel to technology company in false claims litigation involving alleged government contracting abuses.
Counsel to technology company in internal investigation involving public corruption in procurement of municipal contracts.
Counsel to technology company in investigation by California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes regarding technology contract.
Counsel to former chief executive officer of financial institution in investigation by U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Counsel to joint venture in major municipal project in investigation by Department of Justice into government contracting abuses.
Counsel to subsidiary of an international corporation in investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, regarding federally funded program.
Counsel to construction firm in internal investigation regarding products submitted in connection with public works project.
Counsel to government contractor in dispute regarding enforceability of liquidated damages provision.
Counsel to special committee of board of directors of a medical device company in an internal investigation relating to overbilling in government grants.
Counsel to former founder and CEO of corporation in false claims and class action litigation.
Counsel to former CEO and president of international corporation in connection with false claims and Medicare fraud investigation U.S. Department of Justice.
Counsel to government contractor in audit of pricing and invoice practices in contracts with State of California departments, counties, and other public sector clients.
Counsel in Department of Justice investigation, SEC investigation, and civil litigation to financial institutions embroiled in Ponzi scheme.
Counsel in multiple investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding insider trading.
Counsel to executive in investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning technology company's alleged exaggeration of technology, business, and financial performance.
Counsel to president of publicly held company in investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding overbilling and fraud in federally funded program.
Counsel to an independent financial and investment advisory firm in investigation regarding municipal bond offerings.
Counsel to stock market and investment advice publication regarding compliance with securities laws and rules.
Counsel to professional accreditation organization in connection with multiple investigation and enforcement matters involving membership.
Counsel to former chairman of the board of a financial institution in lawsuit brought by corporation for alleged insider trading and breaches of fiduciary obligations.
Counsel to executive at medical device company in parallel investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and civil lawsuits following restatement due to revenue recognition issues.
Counsel to auditor at public accounting firm in parallel investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission regarding audit of public company following restatement due to revenue recognition issues.
Counsel to employee of technology company in investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the backdating of stock options.
Counsel to international corporation in internal investigation regarding overseas payments implicating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Counsel to Arthur Andersen LLP audit partners and employees staffing the Enron engagement in connection with investigation by the Department of Justice and obstruction of justice trial.
Counsel to international corporation in U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and State Attorney General investigations and multi-district litigation regarding alleged price-fixing in liquid crystal display (LCD) market.
Counsel to company and executive in the defense of a class action alleging RICO violations and price fixing.
Counsel to corporation in a national investigation by the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, regarding bid rigging and collusion in a federally funded program.
Counsel to corporation regarding California State Senate and United States Department of Justice investigations of gas trading activities in the California electricity market.
Counsel to CEO of oil and gas company in investigations by U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division and various State Attorney Generals regarding the acquisition of oil and gas leases.
Counsel to executive at the California Independent Systems Operator regarding investigation of trading activities in the California electricity market.
Counsel to executives in investigation by U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, regarding price-fixing in the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) market.
Counsel to employees of company in investigation by members of the Enron Task Force of the U.S. Department of Justice, regarding trading activities in the natural gas market.
Counsel for employee in investigation by U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, regarding the auto parts industry.
Counsel to employee of major airline in connection with U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, investigation of the air cargo industry.
Counsel to executive in investigation by U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, regarding the packaged ice industry.
Counsel to plaintiff in derivative litigation resulting in finding of fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty, award of million of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages, and millions of dollars in attorney fees.
Counsel to former CEO of failed financial institution sued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in lawsuit alleging breaches of fiduciary duty.
Counsel to former chief executive officer of financial institution in derivative action alleging breaches of fiduciary duties.
Counsel to former chairman of the board of nonprofit public benefit corporation in lawsuit alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of charitable trust.
Counsel to LLC managing member in lawsuit regarding corporate governance.
Counsel to investment advisor in internal investigation regarding breach of fiduciary duties following withdrawal of members from LLC.
Counsel to multiple officers and directors regarding obligations of corporations to advance attorney fees and provide indemnity in corporate and government investigations and criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings.
Represented SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR), a solar energy company, as lead counsel in two litigations alleging theft of trade secrets.
Counsel to technology company in lawsuit successfully obtaining injunctive relief to prevent government from releasing trade secret information provided in course of government contract.
Counsel to international company in lawsuit involving theft of trade secrets and company information resulting in award finding of actual and threatened misappropriation, injunctive relief, and award of millions of dollars in attorney fees.
Counsel to software company in lawsuit by California Office of the State Controller concerning the failed implementation of software.
Counsel to software company in civil RICO litigation brought by California county. County of Marin v. Deloitte Consulting LLP, 836 F.Supp.2d 1030 (N.D. Cal. 2011)
Counsel to software company in fraud and breach of contract litigation brought by California corporation.
Counsel to software company in litigation brought by reseller alleging breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
- Counsel to software company in first criminal prosecution by Department of Justice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. United States v. Elcom Ltd., a/k/a Elcomsoft Co., Ltd., 203 F.Supp.2d 1111 (N.D. Cal. 2002)
Counsel to international marketing group in copyright litigation.
Counsel to financial institution sued for trade secret misappropriation, unfair business practices and employee raiding.
Counsel to chemical and mortar manufacturer sued for trade secret misappropriation and breach of license agreement.
Counsel to multiple executives at technology firm sued for theft of trade secrets and in parallel investigation by U.S. Department of Justice.
Counsel to U.S. subsidiary of international corporation in an internal investigation and negotiations responding to allegations by multiple law-enforcement agencies of overbilling and fraud in the sale of software.
- Appointed as Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington to defend the former chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington in suit concerning characterization of data from Phase III trial. Harkonen v. Fleming, 880 F.Supp.2d 1071 (N.D. Cal. 2012).
Counsel to senior executives at biotechnology company in investigation of Food & Drug Act violations by the Department of Justice and Veterans Administration.
Counsel to numerous employees at biotechnology company in investigation of Food & Drug Act violations by the Department of Justice.
Counsel to numerous individuals at medical device manufacturer in investigation of Food & Drug Act violations by the Department of Justice and FDA Office of Criminal Investigation.
Counsel to dairy producer in investigation by the Department of Justice and FDA Office of Criminal Investigation regarding contaminated milk supply.
Counsel to employees and executives at agricultural producer in investigation of Food & Drug Act violations by the Department of Justice.
Counsel to employees of energy company in investigation by Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency regarding alleged Clean Air Act violations.
Counsel to national construction firm in investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency regarding alleged Clean Water Act violations.
Counsel for purchaser of contaminated property in CERCLA litigation.
Counsel to CEO in investigation by the Department of Justice and United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) regarding the employment and harboring of aliens.
Counsel to corporation in connection with investigation by Department of Justice and Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement into shipments of technology products to countries on government watch list.
Counsel to corporation in investigation by Congressional committee regarding shipments of products to countries on government watch list.
Counsel to California city in a complex property tax dispute against the California Department of Finance and a number of other State of California and County agencies.
Counsel to former partner of KPMG LLP indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding tax shelters designed and marketed by KPMG LLP. U.S. v. Stein, et al., 541 F.3d 130 (2nd Cir.(N.Y.) Aug. 28, 2008), affirming, 495 F.Supp.2d 390 (S.D.N.Y. July 16, 2007)
Counsel to employees of domestic subsidiary of international corporation regarding alleged failure to report income.
Counsel to indicted and unindicted parents in the Varsity Blues college admissions cases. United States vs. Sidoo, et al., 468 F.Supp.3d 428 (D. Mass 2020).
Counsel to former government official in investigation and prosecution relating to alleged conflicts of interest.
Counsel to lawyer in investigation by Department of Justice concerning insurance fraud.
- Counsel to victim of extortion in restitution proceedings under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. U.S. v. Lazarenko, 624 F.3d 1247 (9th Cir.(Cal.) Nov.3, 2010)
- Counsel to digital rights management company in fraud litigation brought by international corporation. Micromedia B.V. v. ByteShield, Inc., 2011 WL 5573345 (N.D. Cal. 2011)
Counsel to winery in partition action and water rights dispute.
Counsel to corporation in unfair business practices action brought by the California attorney general.
National counsel to financial institution in class actions regarding credit card and collection practices.
- Counsel in numerous cases to director and officer insurers seeking rescission of policy and/or declaration of no coverage in connection with securities and other director and officer claims. Pan Pacific Retail Properties, Inc. v. Gulf Ins. Co., 471 F.3d 961 (9th Cir. (Cal.) Dec. 21, 2006); Federal Ins. Co. v. Homestore, Inc., 144 Fed.Appx. 641 (9th Cir. (Cal.) Aug. 12, 2005)
Counsel to director and officer insurer in lawsuit in bad faith litigation.
Government Contracts/False Claims
Antitrust / Market Manipulation
Food and Drug
Homeland Security and Customs Enforcement
Other White-Collar Criminal and Civil
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- American Bar Association
- White Collar Crime Committee
- Northern California Chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers
- Member, Board of Governors
- San Francisco Bar Association
- Member, Executive Committee, Criminal Justice Section
- Shelton Capital Funds, San Francisco, California, 2006-present
- Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association, Colma, California, 2019-present
- Santa Clara University School of Law, Law Advisory Board, Santa Clara, California, 2017-present
- Laguna Honda Hospital Volunteers, Inc., San Francisco, California, 2011-2019
- The Guardsmen, a non-profit charitable organization benefiting Northern California youth, San Francisco, California, 2006-2009 (President, 2008-2009)
- Ross School Foundation, Ross, California, 2010-2013 (President, 2012-2013)
- Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, 2008-2009
- Saint Mark's School (now Mark Day School), Marin County, California, September 2002-May 2007
Honors and Awards
Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America, 2021-2024
Listed in Northern California Super Lawyers
- Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and the Bar Association of San Francisco Volunteer Legal Services Program, 2011
- Certificate of Honor for Exemplary Service, City and County of San Francisco, Presented October 7, 2009
- Co-author, "Anti-Corruption 2018 Practice Guide," Chambers and Partners, September 2017
- Profiled in "New Guard at Duane Morris: Young Leaders with Deep Ties," Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 1, 2014
- Author, "A Thin Line Between Moxie and Malfeasance," Financial Advisor, December 11, 2009
- Co-author, "E-Discovery's Foreign Intrigue," San Francisco Daily Journal, March 24, 2009
- Author, "Joint Defense Agreements," Association of Business Trial Lawyers Report, Northern California edition, Summer 2008
- Author, "The Black and White of Self-Disclosure," San Francisco Daily Journal, June 3, 2008
- Featured in "Moving Beyond the Billable Hour," Counsel to Counsel, May 2008