Professional Liability

For more than 30 years, we have been a “go to” firm for legal practices and lawyers facing substantial liability from claims of legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and malicious prosecution in California and throughout the country. We also have an impressive track record of successfully representing accounting firms accused of professional negligence.

Although we are able to resolve most claims involving lawyers or accountants out of court, some do make it to trial. We have extensive experience in state and federal courts around the country. That trial expertise, coupled with our experience handling complex civil and criminal matters, gives Keker, Van Nest & Peters a unique advantage when representing lawyers, law firms, and accounting firms. In short, we have achieved extraordinary results for these clients.

When other lawyers and professionals turn to us for representation, we appreciate the necessity to act quickly and discreetly to defend them in the court of law and the court of public opinion.


Keker, Van Nest & Peters is ranked as a Tier 1 firm in Best Lawyers' national law firm rankings.

Susan Harriman was named the 2012 "Lawyer of the Year" for Legal Malpractice.

The Recorder named Elliot Peters a 2010 Attorney of the Year, highlighting his work on behalf of an AmLaw 100 firm.

Susan Harriman, Elliot Peters and Robert Van Nest have been honored for their work in Legal Malpractice Law by The Best Lawyers in America.

Cases of Note

Entrepreneurs v. Law Firm: We secured the dismissal of legal malpractice claims brought against our client, a prominent international law firm. Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs hired our client to assist with the negotiation and sale of their technology company in exchange for cash and stock in the acquiring company. After the deal was finalized, the acquiring company's stock dropped sharply. The entrepreneurs sued our client and two of its partners. We mounted an aggressive defense that convinced opposing counsel to dismiss the case with prejudice with no payment or other concession by our clients.

Plaintiff v. Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison: Attorneys at the former San Francisco firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison were sued by a luxury car dealer whom the firm reported for fraud. We defended Brobeck, and won a defense verdict at trial.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: The plaintiffs alleged our client, the plaintiff's former attorneys, were negligent. After we successfully transferred the case to Sacramento Superior Court and revealed key facts about the plaintiff during discovery, the case settled before trial for a small fraction of the demand.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We successfully defended at trial an Am Law 50 law firm and one of its former partners against a $100 million claim. The plaintiff alleged malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty related to estate planning. After an eight-week trial in California state court, we won a complete victory.

Plaintiffs v. Law Firm: Plaintiffs brought a malicious prosecution case and a malpractice case against a leading international law firm. The cases stemmed from the demise of the plaintiff's company, an Alaskan company specializing in environmental clean-up. On behalf of the law firm, we successfully resolved both cases.

United States v. Lawyer: The U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated our client, a prominent plaintiff’s lawyer, in connection with the federal criminal investigation of his firm's historical payment of referral fees in class action litigation. We negotiated a very favorable plea deal before charges were filed.

Plaintiffs v. Law Firm: We defended a law firm in a legal malpractice lawsuit connected to an underlying patent infringement action. The case involved complex intellectual property issues, in addition to issues relating to legal representation and performance. The plaintiff sought $75 million, plus trebling for willful patent infringement and punitive damages. However we resolved the case for a settlement of only $800,000.

Key Contacts

Susan J. Harriman

Susan J. Harriman

(415) 676-2213
email link

Elliot R. Peters

Elliot R. Peters

(415) 676-2273
email link

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