Practice Areas


Retaining counsel that is experienced in civil appeals is crucial to success in appellate proceedings. As one court put it, “appellate practice entails rigorous original work in its own right. The appellate practitioner who takes trial level points and authorities and, without reconsideration or additional research, merely shovels them into an appellate brief, is producing a substandard product. Rather than being a rehash of trial level points and authorities, the appellate brief offers counsel probably their best opportunity to craft work of original, professional, and, on occasion, literary value.” (In re Marriage of Shaban, 88 Cal.App.4th 398, 410 (2001).)
The role of appellate counsel thus differs from that of trial counsel. Appellate lawyers provide technical expertise and a new perspective that permits them to weigh the issues in the trial record and select those that may prevail on appeal and those that cannot. By contrast, “trial attorneys who prosecute their own appeals … may have ‘tunnel vision.’ Having tried the case themselves, they become convinced of the merits of their cause. They may lose objectivity and would be well served by consulting and taking the advice of disinterested members of the bar, schooled in appellate practice.” (Estate of Gilkison, 65 Cal.App.4th 1443, 1449-50 (1998).) Appellate counsel thus may also provide candid, detached advice about whether an appeal has merit, as well as its strategic and tactical implications.
The lawyers at Nielsen Katibah have successfully handled a broad range of civil appellate matters in several federal and state appellate courts, including the Supreme Courts of California, Alaska, and Texas. In addition to many cases involving our substantive specialty of insurance law, our cases (including over thirty published opinions) have included anti-SLAPP appeals, arbitration disputes, products liability, breach of contract, investment banking, discrimination, employment, wrongful death, malicious prosecution, premises liability, environmental liability, professional liability, and business torts. Simply, the firm’s attorneys have the experience and skill sufficient to master complex, subtle areas of law.
To learn more about our appellate capabilities, please contact Dan Katibah or James Nielsen, who is accredited by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law.


Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith

We have advised insurers and litigated declaratory-judgment actions throughout the United States, and are well-versed in matters of commercial general liability, professional liability, directors’ and officers’ liability, commercial property, and personal lines coverages. Our attorneys have secured numerous published appellate decisions resolving insurance-law issues, and have long been leaders in litigation involving Coverages A and B under standard general-liability policies.
We continually break new ground in the insurance world. For example, our attorneys were the first to successfully apply an assault-and-battery exclusion in California (Essex Ins. Co. v. Yi, 795 F.Supp.319 (N.D. Cal. 1992)), the first to establish an insurer’s right to sue independent counsel for failing to provide information under Civil Code §2860 (Assurance Co. of America v. Haven, 32 Cal.App.4th 78 (1995)), litigated the leading case establishing the rules for waiver and estoppel in the context of delayed reservations of rights (Ringler Associates, Inc. v. Maryland Cas. Co., 80 Cal.App.4th 1165 (2000)), and won the seminal case tying the duty to defend under a standard liquor-liability coverage to Business & Professions Code § 25602(b), California’s so-called dram-shop law. (Camp Richardson Resort, Inc. v. Philadelphia Indem. Ins. Co., 150 F.Supp.3d 1186 (E.D. Cal. 2015).)
Commonly, such insurance lawsuits are accompanied by allegations of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing—bad faith—and related claims. Our attorneys excel at disposing of those claims by motion, even in rare cases when the trial court disagrees about the scope of coverage, thereby framing the legal issues squarely for appeal. In fact-based claims, our lawyers are finely attuned to the limitations on evidence, key jury instructions, and nuances of expert testimony that can make or break a bad-faith case. Finally, when bad-faith claims reach the appellate court, the firm’s appellate lawyers are uniquely skilled at attaining the best result.
Should you have questions about our insurance practice, please contact James Nielsen or Dan Katibah. For a comprehensive list of our attorneys’ published insurance cases, please contact Mr. Nielsen.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is a driving force in today’s economy. In order to protect your rights, you need a firm that is fluent in a multitude of practice areas, including intellectual property, contract enforcement, statutory enforcement, insurance coverage and civil practice. We have significant experience handling copyright, trademark and trade secret matters. Over the years, our attorneys have worked on several cutting-edge intellectual-property litigation matters.
To discuss the firm’s intellectual property capabilities further, please contact either Stuart Jones or James Nielsen.



We are experienced in representing owners, developers, architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and manufacturers in all phases of residential and commercial construction litigation. We have extensive experience with the special master programs and structured mediation programs for construction-defect claims. And if the ADR process fails, we have significant discovery, litigation and trial experience in this arena. Additionally, our background in insurance law affords a unique perspective in construction cases, as we understand the coverage considerations that drive much of contemporary construction lawsuits.
To discuss the firm’s construction litigation practice further, please contact either Stuart Jones or James Nielsen.

Tort Litigation

Our attorneys have considerable experience with a wide range of legal issues in general tort litigation involving bodily injuries and property damage. As with our other areas of practice, we focus on working with clients to establish the most effective case-management systems, including a variety of dispute-resolution techniques that offer attractive alternatives to traditional litigation.
On the defense side of such litigation, our attorneys often are engaged to defend traditional general casualty cases, typically involving construction injuries, premises liability, fire losses and subrogation claims, security failures (both human and mechanical), false arrest, transportation, or wrongful-death. (In this site, we separately treat insurance claims involving product liability, professional liability, business torts, and intellectual property.) In many cases, our clients engage our firm to defend complex cases that disrupt the operations of staff-counsel units, as well as to handle appeals from larger cases that had been handled in-house before judgment.
The firm also believes that, to have a balanced appreciation for the nuances of tort litigation, attorneys should not restrict their practice either to the plaintiff or defense side. Accordingly, on a number of occasions all of the firm’s partners have accepted engagements for tort plaintiffs on contingency, while keeping a close eye on possible issue conflicts (particularly in insurance cases) and client conflicts.
Please contact any of our attorneys to learn more.

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