William Bernstein
Of Counsel, San Francisco Office
415 956-1000

“The free market only works well when companies compete with each other. Knowing they may be held accountable if they cheat is a powerful incentive to obey the law.”
William Bernstein
William Bernstein

William Bernstein has practiced law for more than three decades. Who’s Who Legal called him, “a leader in the plaintiffs’ bar in the fields of complex civil litigation, antitrust, and consumer protection law.”

Notable cases Bill has litigated include price-fixing suits against pharmaceutical companies on behalf of retail pharmacies, consumer claims against the world’s largest vitamin manufacturers for crafting a global “vitamins cartel,” charges against natural gas and energy companies for manipulating the price of natural gas and electricity in California during the California energy crisis of 2000-2001, and whistleblower claims against the Sutter hospital system for anesthesia service overcharges. These cases, in total, resulted in over $1.3 billion in settlements for consumers and businesses.

Bill also oversaw negotiations in the landmark settlement and injunction against De Beers for monopolizing the trade of rough diamonds in the U.S. for nearly 60 years. As featured in the 2008 Plaintiffs Hot List, The National Law Journal wrote,

The plaintiffs’ firms’ pluck, and some luck, resulted in a $295 million settlement for De Beers’ customers [and] secured De Beers’ pledge to abide by federal and state antitrust laws and accept court oversight to ensure compliance.

Bill taught settlement law as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco. Bill has been repeatedly recognized as a “Super Lawyer for Northern California” by Super Lawyers magazine.

Long form bio (click to open pdf).

  • University of San Francisco School of Law, San Francisco, California
    J.D. – 1975
    Law Review: San Francisco Law Review, 1974-1975
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    B.A. – 1972
    Honors: General Honors
  • California, 1975
  • New York, 1985
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit, 2008
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 1987
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California, 1991
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 1991
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1975
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 1992
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers (Board of Governors, 2005 – Present)
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • Marin County Bar Association (Admin. of Justice Committee, 1988)
  • State Bar of California
  • “The Rise and Fall of Enron’s One-To-Many Trading Platform,” American Bar Association Antitrust Law Section, Annual Spring Meeting, 2005
  • “Effective Use of Class Action Procedures in California Toxic Tort Litigation,” West-Northwest Journal of Environmental and Toxic Torts Law and Policy, No. 3, Spring 1996
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • “California Litigation Star,” Benchmark Plaintiff (ranked as one of California’s leading litigators in antitrust law)
  • Selected for inclusion by peers in The Best Lawyers in America in field of “Litigation – Antitrust,” 2013 – 2024
  • “Super Lawyer for Northern California,” Super Lawyers, 2004 – 2023
  • “Consumer Attorney of the Year Finalist,” Consumer Attorneys of California, 2014
  • “Top Attorneys In Antitrust Law,” Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition, 2010, 2012
  • “Lawdragon Finalist,” Lawdragon, 2009 – 2011
  • Princeton Premier Registry, Business Leaders and Professionals, 2008 – 2009
  • “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California,” American Trial Lawyers Association, 2008
  • Who’s Who Legal, 2007
  • Unsung Hero Award, Appleseed, 2006