Robert L. Lieff

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Class Action & Mass Torts Attorney in San Francisco, CA

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
275 Battery Street, 29th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone: 415-956-1000
Fax: 415-956-1008
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2009
Licensed Since: 1966
Education: Columbia Law School
Practice Areas: Class Action/Mass Torts: Plaintiff (50%), Aviation and Aerospace (30%), Securities Litigation (20%)
Attorney Profile

A Legal Visionary and Global Champion of Justice

Robert L. Lieff founded our firm in 1972, after litigating for seven years as a name partner with the late Melvin Belli in San Francisco at the law firm of Belli, Ashe, Ellison, Choulos & Lieff.

For more than three decades, Mr. Lieff was the principal architect of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. Under his leadership, the firm became, as described by The American Lawyer, "one of the nation's premier plaintiffs firms,” with over 60 lawyers and 200 employees in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville.

Mr. Lieff was a key player in multiple landmark civil cases including the Exxon Valdez oil disaster and Holocaust litigation. In 1996, in the national tobacco industry litigation, he spearheaded the first settlement with a tobacco company. The settlement signaled the end of forty years of success by tobacco companies in defeating health-related lawsuits. Two years later, an unprecedented $206 billion settlement was announced between the tobacco industry and the states’ attorneys general.

The cases Mr. Lieff managed at Lieff Cabraser when he headed the firm’s personal injury practice and mass torts group included the Sulzer hip and knee implantsilicon breast implantsFen PhenVioxxCelebrex/Bextra and Guidant medical devices litigation.

In the early 2000s, Mr. Lieff created an international network of lawyers that meets annually at the Global Justice Forum. The first forum occurred in London in 2005. Subsequent forums have taken place in Paris, Rome, Vienna, and New York. More than 300 lawyers from 30 countries on six continents have attended the Global Justice Forum. Mr. Lieff continues to organize and lead the Global Justice Forum. These international forums are the 21st century version of the creative energy that brought together American tort practitioners in the 20th century under the leadership of the Belli firm.

Philanthropy and Civic Activities

Through a gift of all the attorneys' fees from the firm's Holocaust litigation, Mr. Lieff endowed the Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein Clinical Professorship of Human Rights Law at his alma mater, Columbia Law School. Mr. Lieff has endowed a second chair at Columbia Law School as The Robert L. Lieff Professorship of Law; Director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies. He is also a member of the Dean's Council at Columbia Law School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Bellosguardo Foundation in Santa Barbara, California.


Mr. Lieff and his wife Gretchen reside in Montecito, California. They operate Lieff Wines, LLC, producing wine and operating vineyards at Lieff Ranch, their ranch in Santa Barbara County


About Robert L. Lieff

Admitted: 1966, California

Professional Webpage:


  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell; Selected for inclusion by peers in The Best Lawyers in America in field of "Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Plaintiffs", 2015 - 2021; "Super Lawyer for Northern California," Super Lawyers, 2005 - 2009; "Lawdragon Finalist," Lawdragon, 2005-Present.

Bar/Professional Activity

  • American Association of Justice; American Bar Association (Section on Corporation, Banking and Business Law); Bar Association of San Francisco; California Trial Lawyers Association; Columbia Law School Board of Visitors, 1992-2006; Columbia Law School Center on Corporate Governance Advisory Board, 2004; Consumer Attorneys of California; Fight for Justice Campaign; Lawyers Club of San Francisco; State Bar of California (Member: Committee on Rules of Court, 1971-1974; Special Committee on Multiple Litigation and Class Actions, 1972-1973); San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.
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Office Location for Robert L. Lieff

275 Battery Street
29th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

Last Updated: 12/11/2019

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