James L. Dawson's Profile Image

James L. Dawson

Phone: (408) 288-8100
Fax: (408) 288-9409

James Dawson has extensive experience trying complex employment, business, and real property cases. He has tried over 150 cases to verdict and has appeared before the California Court of Appeal, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Jim’s appellate experience includes Johnson v. Transportation Agency, 480 U.S. 616 (1987), as chronicled in “A Conflict of Rights” by Melvin Urofsky, and Gonzales v. San Jose Police Department (9th Cir. 1990) 901 F.2d 758.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of California


  • Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., Magna Cum Laude (1976)
  • University of California at Los Angeles, B.A., Cum Laude (1971)

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
    Judge Pro Tem
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
    Judicial Arbitrator
  • Yearly recipient of awards from the State Bar of California and Santa Clara County Bar Association for participation in various programs providing pro bono legal services
  • Rated “AV” by Martindale Hubbell
  • American Bar Association
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association

Representative Matters

Real Estate

  • Represented a general partner in a limited partnership dissolution with holdings valued in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars.
  • Represented a fee owner subject to 98-year ground lease in a lease cancellation action; won a judgment that was affirmed on appeal, cancelling the lease.
  • Represented a co-owner in a protracted partition action over a large developed commercial property, leading to an auction wherein client won the highest bid.


  • Represented an LLC member in a breach of fiduciary duty claim against the remaining members, winning a damages verdict in jury trial.
  • Represented principals of corporation sued by investor for fraud and other sundry claims. GED attorneys achieved dismissal of some of the claims at the pleading stage and obtained summary judgment for the clients on the remaining claims.
  • Represented employers in a high tech industry in trade secret cases against former employees.
  • Represented employees accused of trade secret theft.
  • Represented expelled LLC members in claims against the LLC.
  • Represented expelled shareholder employees against a financial services corporation.
  • Represented a corporation in claims by dissident shareholders.


  • Represented class plaintiffs in a series of actions against public entities, challenging structural discrimination based on gender and national origin.
  • Represented class plaintiffs in an action that resulted in significant monetary recovery and adoption of affirmative action plans across the interstate divisions of an entity.
  • Represented professional corporations in a series of actions brought by professional employees.
  • Represented employers in claims for harassment.

Appellate Cases

  • Representing the employer, won affirmance of the trial court’s order of significant prevailing party costs following the employer’s defense decision in binding arbitration. The Court of Appeal rejected the employee’s claim that the arbitrator did not have the authority to award costs to the prevailing party and affirmed the cost order in full. (Garrison v. Thomas Dunnion and Associates, 2000, Sixth District Court of Appeal, Case No. H019628)
  • Representing the employee, won a published reversal of the District Court’s denial of an employee’s discrimination claims. The employee, a Hispanic, claimed he was skipped over for promotion because of his race. He pointed to the fact that every time he was denied promotion, his employer failed to follow its affirmative action program designed to encourage the promotion of minorities. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the City of San Jose’s failure to follow its own affirmative action program constituted significant evidence in a Title VII suit against it. The Court also called into doubt the relevance of the City’s post-lawsuit promotion of other minority employees, finding that “curative measures simply do not tend to prove that a prior violation did not occur.” (Gonzales v. Police Department, City of San Jose, California (9th Cir. 1990) 901 F.2d 758)
  • Won a published reversal of the trial court’s order granting a contractor statutory penalties and attorneys’ fees. The Court of Appeal held that Civil Code §3260.1, which applies to construction contracts involving “progress” payments, does not apply to construction contracts where the only payments are either down payments or payments upon completion. (Murray’s Iron Works, Inc. v. Boyce (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1279)
  • Won an affirmance of the trial court’s order in a business dispute granting his client relief from default. In affirming, the Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion where the defendant’s prior counsel’s default was based upon that attorney’s terminal illness. (David v. D & D Apparel, Inc., 2007, Sixth District Court of Appeal, Case No. H029839)