Practice Expertise

  • Appellate
  • Government
  • Land Use
  • Cannabis Law

Areas of Practice

  • Appellate
  • Cannabis Law
  • Government
  • Land Use
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • View More


Adam is an Appellate Specialist, certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization, and serves as the Co-Chair of Hanson Bridgett’s Appellate Practice. He represents both public and private clients in civil writs, appeals, and mandate proceedings. He has briefed and argued cases in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and every District Court of Appeal in California and has filed merits briefs in two U.S. Supreme Court cases.

His practice focuses on representing cities, counties, and special districts in writs and appeals relating to public finance and revenue measures, land use, civil rights, employee benefits, labor standards, and election law. He has represented water districts and cities in a range of disputes regarding rates, fees, and charges, including work on some of the leading cases interpreting related provisions of the California Constitution, including the California Supreme Court’s decisions in Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara and City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District.

Outside of the office, Adam coaches regionally and nationally competitive moot-court teams at UC Davis School of Law. He also speaks and writes on questions of local government authority and policy under the California Constitution and is an adjunct professor teaching courses in local government and land use law at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Prior to joining Hanson Bridgett, Adam was also an extern in the chambers of the Honorable Martin J. Jenkins.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 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 Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

J.D., magna cum laude, University of San Francisco School of Law (2005)
B.A., Canisius College (2000)

Areas of Practice

  • Appellate
  • Cannabis Law
  • Government
  • Land Use
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Professional Career

Significant Accomplishments

U.S. Supreme Court

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018) 137 S.Ct. 2290 (amicus curiae) – State may prohibit businesses from discriminating against LGBTQ customers, but it violated individual baker’s constitutional rights when enforcing that prohibition based on apparent animus towards religion.

Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman (2017) 137 S.Ct. 1144 (amicus curiae) – State's prohibition against credit surcharges violates merchants' First Amendment rights.

Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals

303 Creative LLC v. Elenis (2021) 6 F.4th 1160 (amicus curiae) – Colorado law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ customers satisfied strict scrutiny and was neutral and generally applicable and thus permissibly prohibited website designer from refusing to serve same-sex couples.

Brewer v. Leprino Foods Co., Ninth Circuit Case No. 19-16007 – Former employee’s interpersonal complaints about supervisor reflected neither actually nor reasonably perceived violations of law and did not trigger whistleblower protections, as a result.

Painter v. Blue Diamond Growers, Ninth Circuit Case No. 17-55901 – Almondmilk is not an “imitation” food within the meaning of federal food-labeling laws because it neither substitutes for nor is nutritionally inferior to dairy milk.

AmeriCare MedServices, Inc. v. City of Anaheim, et al., Ninth Circuit Case No. 17-55565 (amicus curiae) – Cities contracting for emergency-medical services pursuant to express, statutory authority were absolutely immune from anti-trust liability, and neither an active-state-supervision requirement nor market-participant exception currently exist or should apply.

Linder v. Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation Dist., Ninth Circuit Case No. 15-17379 – Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed appeal following oral argument based on threat of novel jurisdictional argument.

California Supreme Court

Busker v. Wabtec Corp. (2021) 11 Cal.5th 1147 (amicus curiae) – Installation of equipment on train cars was not part a “public works” project subject to California’s prevailing-wage statute, even though installation related to public works construction of fixed facilities on the rails’ wayside.

City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation Dist. (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1191 (amicus curiae) – Groundwater production charges are not property-related fees limited by Article XIII D of the California Constitution, and fees for government privileges, benefits, products, and services must be reasonably allocated amongst payors.

Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara (2017) 3 Cal.5th 210 (amicus curiae) – Charter city's franchise fees are not taxes governed by Article XIII C of the California Constitution unless they exceed the reasonable value of the franchise.

State Courts of Appeal

Old East Davis Neighborhood Assn. v. City of Davis (2021) Cal.App.5th (amicus curiae) – Trial court should have deferred to city’s determination, based on substantial evidence in the administrative record, that mixed-use development was consistent with city’s general and specific plans.

Jobs & Housing Coalition v. City of Oakland (2021) Cal.App.5th – Oakland voters had constitutional authority to enact special parcel tax by simple-majority approval of citizen-sponsored initiative, and that authority was not limited by ballot pamphlet that advised super-majority approval was required.

Oakland Police Officers’ Assn. v. City of Oakland (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 503 – Under Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, police officers facing investigation for alleged misconduct are not entitled to broad discovery of investigators’ files prior to second or subsequent interrogation.

McWhinney Centerra Lifestyle Center LLC v. Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers-Centerra LLC (2021) 486 P.3d 439, 2021 COA 2 – LLC managers breached fiduciary duties and were liable for $45 million in resulting damages, and Colorado’s economic-loss rule does not bar claims for intentional torts.

Los Angeles Times v. So. Cal. Regional Rail Assn., Second District Court of Appeal Case No. B280021, Aug. 30, 2019 (unpub’d) – Public rail agency did not violate California’s sunshine law, the Ralph M. Brown Act, when it held emergency, teleconference Board meeting to analyze threat to the security of its rail service.

Restore Hetch Hetchy v. City & County of San Francisco, et al.(2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 865 – Federal Raker Act preempts claim that O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir were an unlawful diversion of water under Article X, section 2 of the California Constitution.

O’Neal v. Stanislaus County Employees’ Retirement Association (2017) 8 Cal.App.5th 1184 – County retirement system had constitutional and statutory authority to consider the interests of both active and retired members when setting employer contributions.

Lemke v. Sutter Roseville Medical Ctr., et al.(2017) 8 Cal.App.5th 1292 – Hospital's reports to the Bureau of Registered Nurses is absolutely privileged from tort liability.

Santos v. Kisco Senior Living, LLC (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 862 (amicus curiae) – Mandated reporters of elder abuse are absolutely immune from tort liability for reporting and related activity.

Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 78 – California law does not require employers to allow so-called "boss-ectomies," employee requests for different supervisors as an accommodation for the stress of working with a difficult boss.

Great Oaks Water Co. v. Santa Clara Valley Water Dist. (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 456 – Water district's groundwater charge did not violate restrictions of California's Proposition 218 or the district's enabling legislation.

Storper v. Dillick, First District Court of Appeal Case No. A135435, May 31, 2013 (unpub’d) – Trial court had jurisdiction to enforce settlement under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6.

State of Cal. Div. of Occupational Safety & Health v. Superior Court, Second District Court of Appeal Case No. B 235419, April 23, 2012 (unpub'd) – Trial court abused its discretion by allowing broad, exploratory discovery in traditional mandamus proceeding.

Arntz v. Superior Court (Alioto-Pier) (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 1082 (amicus curiae) – County supervisor could not seek reelection under local term limit rules.

Trial Court Writ Proceedings

Successfully defended regional rail authority against Brown Act challenge to emergency closed session regarding the security of essential public services.

Defended elected officials from recall proponent’s writ of mandate attempting to restrict the officials’ ability to discuss their views on relevant political issues in their ballot-pamphlet statements.

Intervened on behalf of political action committee in writ of mandate proceeding and helped defeat challenge to ballot materials regarding San Francisco's Proposition F.

Defended a commuter rail agency in a taxpayer waste suit seeking to sever the agency’s planning relationship with the California High Speed Rail Authority, obtaining early dismissal of all claims.

Fought labor organization's writ of mandate seeking to dictate how the state enforces heat regulations governing farm work.

Defended city against challenge to the Housing Element of its General Plan based on the city's decision to reject a proposed development.

Professional Associations
  • Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, Chair
  • League of California Cities, Municipal Finance Committee, Chair
  • State Bar of California, Public Law Section, Member
  • DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee, Vice Chair
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Appellate Law Section, Member
  • Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada, Amicus Committee, Member

Professional Activities and Experience
  • International Municipal Lawyers’ Association, Amicus Advocacy Award (2018)


Additional Articles"California Supreme Court Allows Challenge to Oakland’s Franchise Fee," Government Law Alert (August 2022)
"Inadequate Government Claims Act Notice Sinks Proposition 218 Water Rate Challenge," Government/Water Law Alert (February 2022)
"New California Court of Appeal Decision Upholds Decisions Made By County Retirement System During Great Recession," Litigation Law Alert (December 2021)
"New Law Protects Water/Wastewater Sector by Limiting Rate Challenges," Water Law Alert (September 2021)
"Busker v. Wabtec – California Supreme Court Rules That On-Board Work Is Not Public Works," Appellate Alert (August 2021)
"Chevron/Auer Deference," In-House Defense Quarterly (June 2021)
"Manufacturing Appellate Jurisdiction: A Dangerous Gambit," The Recorder (February 2021)
"Supreme Court Rules Referendum Process Cannot Be Used to Challenge Water Rates," Water Law Alert (August 2020)
"The California Court of Appeal Issues Landmark Local Government Finance Decisions," Government Law Alert (July 2020)
"Making Effective Use of the Revision Process," For the Defense (February 2020)
"Home Field Advantage Making the Most of Your Reply," Daily Journal (November 2019)
"'Masterpiece Cakeshop': Drawing Lines to Ensure Tolerance Runs in All Directions," The Recorder (December 2017)
"Cal Supremes Limit Prop 218’s Impact on Tax Initiatives, but Less Than You Might Think," The Recorder (September 2017)
"Supreme Court Clarifies Application of Procedural Requirements of Proposition 218 to Revenue Measures Adopted by Initiative," Government Law Alert (September 2017)
"Supreme Court Clarifies Application of Proposition 218 Requirements to Franchise Fees," Litigation & Dispute Resolution Alert (June 2017)
Propositions 218 and 26 Implementation Guide" (June 2017)


"Court Rejects Challenge to Groundwater Charges," California Special Districts Association e-News (April 2015)
"The Court of Appeal Holds Groundwater Augmentation Charges Fees for Water Services Under Proposition 218 and Provides Much-Needed Guidance on Several Related Issues," Municipal & Public Agency Law Alert (October 2013)
"Chapter 5: Finance and Economic Development," Municipal Law Handbook (2012–2013)
"Courts Provide Some Relief for Eliminating Vexatious Appeals," Daily Journal (June 2012)
"Chapter 12: Code Enforcement," Municipal Law Handbook (2011)
"Negotiating Attorneys Fees," California Lawyer (January 2011)
"Which Comes First, the Compensation or the Fees?" The Recorder (September 2010)
"Blurring Lines: How Supplemental Jurisdiction Unknowingly Gave the World Ancillary Personal Jurisdiction," University of San Francisco Law Review (Fall 2004)


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