Harlan Watkins

Harlan Watkins

Senior Shareholder


All Courts in the State of California

Federal District Court for the State of California, Northern, Eastern and Central Districts

Ninth and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Profile
  • Experience
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Affiliations
  • Recognitions
  • Education

A seasoned litigation attorney, Harlan is a senior shareholder representing clients from Murphy Pearson’s San Francisco office. His practice focuses on the defense of professionals, including attorneys, real estate brokers and agents, and insurance brokers and agents in malpractice litigation.

Harlan defends professionals in administrative and disciplinary proceedings, including judges before the California Commission on Judicial Performance and attorneys before the California State Bar. In addition, he has successfully represented clients in litigation involving claims for breach of contract, bad-faith, negligence, malpractice and malicious prosecution.

Selected Client Representations

  • Professional liability defense action involving alleged legal negligence in the handling of a $500,000 insurance bad-faith action. Case tried in San Francisco Superior Court, and resulted in a defense verdict on behalf of client.
  • Plaintiff’s breach of contract action involving a dispute over defective software. Case was tried in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and resulted in a recovery of approximately $400,000 for the client.
  • Successfully established before the California Supreme Court a right of indemnity between concurrent counsel where client brings a malpractice claim against one, but not both, attorneys.
  • Successful appeal involving breach of contract issues before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Successfully defended a university from defamation claims based upon Civil Code section 47 before the First District California Court of Appeal.
  • Successfully defended an attorney before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from a claim from a former minor client based upon quasi-judicial immunity.
  • Successfully defended attorneys from malicious prosecution claims from a former litigation opponent before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Successfully defended insurance brokers from a $6 Million dollar malpractice claim alleging a failure to obtain insurance.
  • The Post-Pandemic Litigation Surge: How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Covid-19 Litigation,” co-author, Food & Beverage Magazine, pp. 46-48,  July 2020
  • “Can juries award prejudgment interest in malpractice suits?,” The Daily Journal, Mar. 8, 2013
  • “Malicious prosecution case: right, then wrong,” The Daily Journal, Feb. 20, 2013
  • “Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: ‘General Acceptance’ Rejected,” Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal, 1994, Vol. 10, Issue 1
  • “First Time Buyer’s Guide Legal Malpractice Insurance,” presenter, 2013
  • California State Bar Committee on Professional Liability Insurance (2007 – 2012)
  • Selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers (2013 – present)

J.D., Santa Clara University School of Law

B.S., Political Science, University of Oregon; Phi Gamma Mu, International Honor Society in Social Science