Don A. Lesser

Top rated Insurance Coverage attorney in San Francisco, California

Lesser Law Group
Don A. Lesser
Lesser Law Group

Practice Areas: Insurance Coverage, Business Litigation, Professional Liability; view more

Licensed in California since: 1984

Education: University of California Davis School of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2019 - 2023

Lesser Law Group

315 Montgomery St
Ninth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104 Visit website


Don A. Lesser is the founder of The Lesser Law Group with offices in San Francisco, Sacramento and Marin County, California.  He and his colleagues have represented individuals and business of all sizes - local to Fortune 500's -- in litigation, mediation, arbitration and administrative proceedings for over 35 years. The firm has counseled and represented companies in many industries in multi-million dollar contract disputes, corporate governance & shareholder litigation, financial fraud, professional negligence claims, unfair business practices litigation, employment disputes and a wide range of insurance-related matters.

The firm serves clients throughout Northern California including San Francisco, Oakland, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, Napa and Sacramento.

One of Don’s primary practice areas is insurance law, in which he has the uncommon depth and breadth of experience that comes from representing hundreds of policyholders, agents and brokers and insurers for over 35 years concerning a wide range of insurance policies and coverage issues in claims disputes and bad faith litigation.  He also counsels businesses regarding their coverages, before claims happen, to try to avoid coverage disputes later on.  Don's experience extends to nearly all lines of commercial and personal liability and property coverages including professional errors and omissions and directors’ and officers’ liability policies, commercial general liability policies, property and business interruption coverage, cyber coverage and commercial crime coverages.  Don also represents individual policyholders in property insurance claims resulting from fire, water and other property damage as well as the problems associated with being under-insured for large losses. He also represents policyholders in Examinations Under Oath and in fraud investigations.

Recognizing his accomplishments, Martindale-Hubbell has awarded Don with an AV Preeminent* rating every year for over 30 years. This is the highest rating available from the prominent organization and given to attorneys possessing the highest degrees of professional excellence and ethical standards.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his law degree from the Martin Luther King School of Law at the University of California, Davis in 1983.  Before becoming a licensed attorney, Mr. Lesser worked on environmental policy issues for the governor of California. He went on to spend nine years as a partner at a prominent San Francisco litigation firm in San Francisco before founding The Lesser Law Group in 1999.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice areas

Insurance Coverage, Business Litigation, Professional Liability: Plaintiff

Focus areas

Bad Faith Insurance, Insurance, Legal Malpractice, Professional Malpractice - Other

  • 50% Insurance Coverage
  • 30% Business Litigation
  • 20% Professional Liability: Plaintiff

First Admitted: 1984, California

Professional Webpage:

  • AV Preeminent Rating each year since 2006, AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale Hubbell
Representative Clients:
  • Current and recent clients include an international hotel owner/operator, a large defense contractor, school districts, private equity and venture capital firms, medical and dental practices and hospitals, real estate companies, banks, restaurants and wineries, computer retailers, software companies including a Fortune 500 company, insurance brokers, law firms, engineering firms and construction companies.
  • Recovered 100% of the client's claim for a Southern California school district in a coverage/bad faith suit against its excess workers' compensation insurance carrier.
  • As insurance recovery counsel for an international hotel owner/operator, we mediated a coverage dispute with the client's primary and excess general liability insurers over an exclusion they claimed barred coverage for an aircraft accident and alleged limits on defense cost coverage. We recovered 75% of the client's seven figure settlement costs and 100% of defense costs without the need for coverage litigation.
  • Won $50 million judgment against a group of Directors’ & Officers’ Liability insurers that refused to defend or indemnify our client, the founder of a Southern California computer retailer.
  • Representing a Southern California commercial real estate developer, we convinced the client's insurer under an Employment Practices Liability Policy to reverse its withdrawal of the defense, settle the claim and abandon its defense cost allocation arguments.
  • Representing a publicly traded Northern California technology company in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, we obtained a seven figure recovery against a group of insurance carriers that unlawfully rescinded the client's primary and excess D & O policies based on alleged misrepresentations in financial statements the client submitted when obtaining the coverage.
  • With co-counsel we prevailed at trial, and secured a seven figure attorney's fees award, in a multi-million dollar dispute over the renewal terms of a San Francisco restaurant lease.
  • For a Bay Area health care district, we convinced the client's D&O insurer to reverse its denial of coverage based on a contractual liability exclusion.
  • For a Bay Area labor union, we recovered 90 percent of the client's judgment against the insured of a London-based non-admitted insurer after defeating the insurer’s summary judgment motion on coverage.
  • Settled for nuisance value a multi-million dollar “reimbursement” claim by an insurer of a Southern California private equity firm based on coverage issues we defeated on cross-motions for summary judgment.
  • Representing a major San Francisco law firm, we convinced the firm's professional liability insurer to reverse its withdrawal of its defense of a malpractice claim against the firm and secured the insurer's settlement of the claim. 
  • Obtained a six-figure recovery from a title insurer for a North Bay homeowner whose insurer refused to defend or indemnify against the loss.
  • For a Southern California general contracting firm we obtained a seven-figure recovery from the client's commercial liability insurance carriers for their denials of coverage for construction defect claims on a community college expansion project.
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Attorney Volunteer, United Policyholders (2014 - present).  Currently providing pro bono assistance to victims of the 2017 and 2019 wildfires in Sonoma, Napa and Butte Counties.
  • Speaker at multiple public workshops and town halls regarding wildfire insurance recoveries and wildfire preparedness
  • Professional Responsibility Attorney - Legal Aid of Marin (2014-2015)    
  • Attorney volunteer, Marin County Superior Court Bench/Bar Settlement Conference Program, 2015 - present.
  • Fee Dispute Arbitrator, Sacramento and Marin County Bar Associations (2013 - present)
  • Trustee and Board President, Montessori de Terra Linda, San Rafael, CA  from 2013-2017.
Educational Background:
  • University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., Political Science, 1978
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Admitted to practice in all state and federal California courts.
  • Sacramento Bar Association, 2018 - present
  • Bar Association of San Francisco Insurance Law Committee. Panelist on March 2018 program on Cyber Liability and Insurance Coverage.
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, 2014 - present.  Panelist in November 2016 program titled Strategies for the Plaintiff Lawyer When a Carrier Refuses to Settle, Pay or Defend. 
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • I have written and lectured on numerous topics in the insurance and lawyers' professional liability fields.
Industry Groups:
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Defense Contractors
  • Financial Services
  • Hospitality
  • Insurance Brokers/agents
  • Law And Accounting Firms
  • Medical
  • Real Estate
  • Retailing
  • Technology
  • Wineries

Office location for Don A. Lesser

315 Montgomery St
Ninth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone: 415-453-7600


5 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2019 - 2023

Additional sources of information about Don A. Lesser

See legal Q & A provided by Don A. Lesser

Q: What do I need to know about insurance to protect my business from a California wild fire?

A: In California, we won’t soon forget the devastation of recent wildfires. Unfortunately, around 65-70% of property owners were underinsured in the … See all answers by Don Lesser

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