William S. Berman

Special Counsel

  • William S. Berman
  • Phone: +1 415 957 3133
    Fax: +1 415 707 2054

    Import to Address Book

  • Duane Morris LLP
    Spear Tower
    One Market Plaza, Suite 2200
    San Francisco, CA 94105-1127

William S. Berman practices in the areas of commercial litigation and insurance coverage, with an emphasis on working with clients to resolve contract, business torts, unfair business practices, and employment disputes.

Mr. Berman also advises insurers on claims handling and insurance coverage issues that arise under general liability, professional liability, umbrella and excess policies, and specialized policies.

In his practice, Mr. Berman represents clients in state and federal courts, administrative and regulatory proceedings, and arbitrations and mediations in addition to providing clients on non-litigation matters.

Prior to joining the legal profession, Mr. Berman worked for a political management and communications firm, where his work included furthering the aspirations of individuals seeking public service in federal, state and local elective office, including candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State Assembly, Mayor, Sheriff, and City Council.

Mr. Berman is a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco and is a 1993 graduate of the McGeorge School of Law, where he served on the National Moot Court Honors Board Executive Committee, and was a finalist in both the Top Oralist and Best Brief Competitions for the National Moot Court program.

Representative Matters

  • Obtained summary judgment for an insurer client against the insureds, a bar owner and the building owner, and against the claimants, with respect to insurance coverage for wrongful death claims arising out of a San Francisco bar’s security guard/doorman shooting of a prospective patron after denying the victim entrance to the bar.
  • Successfully represented a client and obtained summary judgment against a judgment creditor who sought in excess of $25 million arising from a stipulated judgment involving the Lanham Act.
  • Prevailed in the Court of Appeal and trial court that an insurer had no duty to defend a multimillion-dollar California Business & Professional Code section 17200 claim based on alleged violations of the Truth-In-Lending Act.
  • Won summary judgment for clients in an employment dispute involving allegations of same-sex sexual harassment and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
  • Obtained appellate court affirmance following a successful motion for summary judgment addressing the duty of care a commercial establishment owes to third parties when it leaves the keys in the ignition of vehicles parked in within its facility.
  • Successfully prosecuted a sexual harassment matter and obtained monetary damages following an administrative trial.


  • California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • 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
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee


  • University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, J.D., 1993
  • University of California, Davis, B.A., 1987

Professional Activities

  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • Defense Research Institute

Selected Publications

  • Co-author, "Cyber Insurance For Data Breach: Being Prepared If The Black Hats Come Calling," (Part I, Part II) Front Page News, January 1, 2016
  • Co-Author, "Recent Developments in Coverage Issues Affecting Claims-Made Policies," Mealey's Litigation Report: Insurance, July 22, 2003
  • Co-Author, "Curbing the Bad-Faith Setup," Claims Magazine, December 1, 2002

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, "Advanced Hot Topics in Liability Insurance Coverage: Advertising Injury and Product Disparagement," West LegalEdcenter, December 4, 2012
  • Faculty Member, "Goings on Down South: The California Experience," Insurance in the Construction Industry conference, Bellevue, Washington, October 16, 2008