Michael Johnson is a partner in the Walnut Creek office of Lewis Brisbois and a vice-chair of the Complex Business & Commercial Litigation Practice. Mr. Johnson’s practice focuses on complex litigation including trials and appeals in State and Federal Courts. His primary practice areas include business and commercial disputes, environmental, insurance, and general liability. Mr. Johnson was certified as a specialist in appellate law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization from 2000 to 2016, and although no longer practicing as a certified specialist, continues to handle appeals in state and federal court as a regular part of his practice.

Legal Experience

Trial experience includes: three week jury trial arising from a motorcycle accident (defense verdict); 8 week indemnity/property damage trial involving damages in excess of $9 Million (defense verdict); Real property dispute involving boundaries, easements, drainage, damages etc. (favorable verdict); contract dispute; $3M contract dispute (favorable verdict); large insurance coverage dispute; 1 week pharmacist assault (favorable verdict); 1 week product liability (defense verdict); 3 week fire loss trial, probable liability and $1.5 M demand (plaintiff verdict for much less than our settlement offers); 3 week group home malpractice trial (very favorable verdict - less than our settlement offers); 7 week CERCLA trial in federal court (very favorable verdict); 3 week business tort trial (defense verdict);  1 day trial of real estate E&O claim (nonsuit);  2 week environmental mass tort jury trial (defense verdict);  4 week legal malpractice jury trial (defense verdict/hung jury);  2 week insurance subrogation trial (favorable verdict); and 3 day food poisoning trial (defensed).

Many appeals and writs in State and Federal Courts.  Published decisions include:

                 -  Burlington Northern/Santa Fe R’way Co. v.U.S. (2009) 129 S. Ct. 1870

                 -  Wade v. Schrader (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1039

                  - Marin Tug & Barge v. Westport Petroleum (9th Cir. 2001) 271 F.3d 825

                  - Glass v. Najafi (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 45

                  - Commerce & Industry Ins. Co. v. Chubb Ins. Co. (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 739

                  - KPFF, Inc. v. California Union Ins. Co. (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 963

                  - Stanton Road Assoc. v. Pacific Employers Ins. Co. (1995) 36 Cal.App.4th 333

                  - Assurance Company of America v. Haven (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 78

Numerous arbitrations, mediations and other ADR resulting in favorable resolutions, including complex multi-party disputes.

Mr. Johnson joined Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith as a partner in 1999. 

Professional Presentations

Mr. Johnson frequently presents programs for clients and professional organizations, as well as in house, on a variety of topics, including proactive defense of cases, risk transfer (indemnity, additional insurance), California Fair Claims Settlement Practices Act, punitive damages, premises liability, legal research and writing, appeals and writs, etc.

  • Lawyer Liability to Non-Clients Under the New Restatement of Law Governing Lawyers, IADC DEFENSE COUNSEL JOURNAL, 1998.
  • Appellate Practice 101:  Master the Basics, Avoid the Traps, MCLE Program presented with Associate Justice Barbara J.R. Jones for the Bar Association of San Francisco, May, 2000.  Also presented for the Solano County Bar Association, November 2000.
  • California Case Triggers Supreme Court Ruling on Joint and Several Liability and Arranger Liability Under CERCLA, Environmental Law News, published by the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California, Vol. 18, No. 1, Summer 2009.
  • Views on Burlington Decision and Impact Upon CERCLA Litigation, CLE program presented to the Environmental Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco, June 2009.


  • State Bar Admissions
    • California
  • United States District Courts
    • United States District Court for the Central District of California
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States Courts of Appeals
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court



United States Supreme Court

United States Court of Appeals

Ninth Circuit

United States District Court for the Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California


Alameda County Bar Association, former Chair, Appellate Practice Section

Awards & Honors

Listed in Best Lawyers in America® 2023-2024 — Railroad Law


University of California, Hastings College of Law

Juris Doctor, 1987

Stanford University

Bachelor of Arts, 1983

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