William L. Stern

William L. Stern

Senior Counsel

San Francisco, (415) 268-7637


University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (B.A., 1977)
Cornell Law School (J.D., 1980)

Bar Admissions


William Stern is the recognized authority on California's Unfair Competition Law, Business & Professions Code section 17200 et seq. and one of the nation's leading experts on consumer class actions.

Mr. Stern specializes in the defense of consumer class actions. He regularly handles litigation and trial of suits brought by private litigants and law enforcement officials for unfair business practices and false advertising claims against banks, retailers, manufacturers, insurers, finance companies, pharmaceutical companies, cable television operators, telemarketing companies, mortgage lenders, public utilities, film producers, advertisers, high-tech companies, nursing home operators, publishers, literary agents, franchisors, equipment lessors, and others. 

Mr. Stern also has extensive trial and appellate court experience defending commercial clients in cases involving privacy and data breach, trade secrets, first-party insurance bad faith, franchise, intellectual property, lender liability, and prejudgment remedies. In January 2013, he won a complete defense victory after an eight-week jury trial in a case that went to verdict seeking more than $250 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages on behalf of 128,000 potential class members. This case was named one of the Top Defense Verdicts in 2013 by the Daily Journal.

Mr. Stern is the author of The Rutter Group's treatise, and dozens of published articles on the subject, and a principal author of the amendment to section 17200 known as Proposition 64 (approved by California voters on November 2, 2004). He has been a contributing editor to the Consumer Financial Services Law Report (LRP Press) since 1998, and is the Editor in Chief for the firm's award-winning Financial Services Report, published quarterly.

He is a fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers, an advisor to the California State Bar's section on Antitrust and Unfair Competition, a member of the Legal Affairs Committee for the California Bankers Association, and an organizer and panelist for The Rutter Group's annual program on California's Unfair Business Practices and False Advertising statutes. From 2006 to 2009, Mr. Stern was a member of the California State Bar's Business Section and it's Financial Institutions Committee.

Mr. Stern is recommended by Legal 500 US in the areas of Product Liability Litigation, Data Protection and Privacy, and Marketing and Advertising.  He is also recognized by Best Lawyers in America in the field of Commercial Litigation.  Since 2004, he has been listed as a leading attorney by Super Lawyers in the fields of Consumer Law, Business Litigation, and Banking. In 2006, the American Tort Reform Association honored Mr. Stern by naming him as a “Legal Reform Champion.”

William Stern is recommended as a leading lawyer by Legal 500 US 2018, Best Lawyers In America 2016, and Super Lawyers 2014.

William Stern Book: Bus. and Prof. C. 17200 Practice

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