Frank J. Johnson Headshot

Frank J. Johnson

Managing Partner

Mr. Johnson is one of the founding partners of Johnson Fistel and has more than twenty-five years of experience as a trial attorney focusing on complex civil litigation.  Prior to starting his own law firm in 2004, Mr. Johnson was a partner in the law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP, a full-service Am Law 100 law firm with 875 attorneys in 15 offices located around the world.

While at Sheppard Mullin, Mr. Johnson represented some of the largest companies in the country in complex business disputes conducting trials in state and federal court.  He brings this “Big Law” experience to his current practice where he can offer the efficiency and personal touch of a smaller law firm.  With the trust and confidence of his colleagues and clients over the past 15 years, the law firm that Mr. Johnson started with just one lawyer has now grown to a full-service law firm with 18 lawyers and offices in California, Georgia, and New York.

Representative Matters:  Mr. Johnson’s experience representing publicly traded companies at Sheppard Mullin has carried over to his current practice.  Mr. Johnson has been and continues to be retained by private and publicly-traded companies.  For example, in 2013 the court appointed U.S. Chapter 7 Trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Powerwave Technologies, Inc. retained Mr. Johnson as lead counsel to pursue claims for breach of fiduciary duty against the company’s wayward officers and directors.  Mr. Johnson helped the Trustee recover $5.5 million for the estate.  In re Powerwave Technologies, Inc., (Bankr. D. Del.).  Mr. Johnson obtained a similar result in In re Artes Medical, Inc., (Bankr. S.D. Cal.) when the U.S. Chapter 7 Trustee of Artes Medical, Inc. retained Mr. Johnson as lead counsel.  Mr. Johnson helped the estate recover a multi-million-dollar settlement.  In finding that “[t]here’s no question in my mind that this settlement is in the best interest of this Estate,” the Honorable Laura S. Taylor stated, “I want to compliment Mr. Johnson, and I want to compliment on the successful recovery for the Estate.  The creditors thank you, and I thank you.”  See also International Real Estate PLC v. Oaktree Capital Management, LLC, (Cal. Super. Ct. Los Angeles Cnty.) (a public company with shares listed on the London Stock Exchange retained Mr. Johnson as lead counsel to pursue claims for breach of fiduciary duty against former directors of a joint venture company for damages in excess approximately $20 million; the case ultimately settled on favorable terms to International Real Estate) (See testimonial from the firm’s client under Testimonials).

Mr. Johnson has also continued to represent individual clients and small companies through jury verdicts in complex civil litigation.  By way of example, in Healthy Life Marketing, LLC, et al. v. Jaime Brenkus’ Sound Body, Inc. (San Diego Superior Court), Mr. Johnson helped his client recover a seven-figure verdict following a week-long jury trial.  See testimonial from the firm’s client under Testimonials.  Similarly, in DCI Solutions v. Urban Outfitters (S.D. Cal), Mr. Johnson served as lead trial counsel for a small local consulting firm in a case against one of the nation’s largest clothing retailers in a matter that would have forced the company into bankruptcy if it lost.  Following a week-long trial in federal court, the jury returned a verdict rejecting the retailer’s $1.5 million damage claim in its entirety.

In addition to his complex civil litigation practice, Mr. Johnson has served as lead or co-lead counsel in scores of representative matters (class actions and derivative actions) throughout the country, including: In re Motorola, Inc. Derivative Litigation, (Ill. Cir. Ct. Cook County) (derivative action settled after six years of litigation on terms that required the implementation of comprehensive corporate therapeutic changes valued by one expert at over $1 billion); In re the Titan Corp. Derivative Litigation, (San Diego Superior Court) (derivative action resulting in $29 million in increased consideration to Titan’s shareholders in the all-cash merger acquisition); Bagot v. Bracken, et al., (Tenn. 6th Cir.) (derivative action resulting in a payment of $19 million to the company, believed to be among the largest recoveries in a derivative case in the State of Tennessee, and implementation of significant corporate therapeutics); Englehart v. Brown, et al. (Wash. Super. Ct. King Cnty) (shareholder class action resulting in what is believed to be the largest recovery ever obtained in a class action challenging the price of a merger or acquisition of a public company in a Washington court, $12.75 million additional consideration for class members); and Baker v. Visa International Corp., (San Diego Superior Court) (consumer class action against Visa for wrongfully assessing undisclosed fees by manipulating the currency conversion rates when consumers used their Visa Card for purchases in other countries and ultimately coordinated with In re Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation which resulted $336 million for the class members).

Areas of Practice:  Mr. Johnson’s practice focuses on complex litigation.  Mr. Johnson has extensive experience in all aspects of trial practice, mediation, trial preparation, and non-jury and jury trials in state and federal court.  In addition to his general trial practice, Mr. Johnson has both prosecuted and defended a number of cases involving securities fraud in class actions and derivative cases.

Professional Qualifications and Activities:  Mr. Johnson was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1994.  He is currently admitted in good standing with the following courts:

  • The Supreme Court of the United States of America
  • All courts in the State of California
  • The United States Courts of Appeals for the Third and Ninth Circuits
  • The United States District Courts for the Southern, Central, Eastern, and Northern Districts of California
  • The United States Court of Federal Claims
  • The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • The United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Mr. Johnson is currently, or has been previously, a member of the following professional organizations:

  • The San Diego County Bar Association
  • The Federal Bar Association
  • The Litigation Section of the State Bar of California
  • SD Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chair Tech Comm. (2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Member of the Board of Governors (2018-2020)

Mr. Johnson completed the following trial advocacy programs:

  • San Diego County District Attorney one-month misdemeanor jury trial program
  • Louis M. Welsh American Inn of Court, one-year program
  • San Diego Inn of Court College of Advocacy, multi-week trial course
  • San Diego Inn of Court College of Advocacy, multi-week evidence course

Following graduation from law school in 1994, Mr. Johnson served as a judicial law clerk for one year for the Honorable John S. Rhoades, a federal trial judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Awards and Peer Recognition:

  • Martindale-Hubbell: Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, the gold standard in attorney ratings, have recognized lawyers for their strong legal ability and high ethical standards for more than a century. Mr. Johnson has received an AV rating for more than 17 consecutive years, awarded to only those lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability, as established by confidential opinions from members of the Bar.
  • Super Lawyers: Mr. Johnson is recognized as a Super Lawyer in Business and Securities Litigation. Thomson Reuters awards this recognition to the top 5% of attorneys who have obtained a high-level of professional achievement and are highly regarded by their peers.
  • San Diego Magazine Top Lawyers: In its March 2021 edition, San Diego Magazine included Mr. Johnson as one of the few 2021 Top Lawyers in complex business litigation in San Diego. This year is the eighth consecutive year that San Diego Magazine recognized Mr. Johnson as a Top Lawyer in San Diego.
  • America’s Most Honored Lawyers Top 1%: In 2021, The American Registry honored Frank J. Johnson with this award.  Each year, The American Registry certifies qualifying public recognitions of excellence including significant mentions in the press, honors by recognized trade groups, and acclaimed recognitions by peers or clients.  It reserves this award for only the Top 1% of American Lawyers.

Education:  Mr. Johnson received his Juris Doctor degree from Washington University School of Law in 1994, where he was in the top 10% of his class while in attendance.  In his first year of law school, Mr. Johnson received the American Jurisprudence Award in Contracts.  At both Washington University School of Law and the University of San Diego School of Law (where Mr. Johnson was a visiting student in his third year), Mr. Johnson won first place awards in each school’s Moot Court Competition.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from San Diego State University in 1990, where he graduated second in his class major, with honors and summa cum laude.

Community and Volunteer Activities:  Mr. Johnson serves on the Board of Governors for the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.  And for a number of years, he served as a volunteer at Voices for Children, where he acted as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) meeting several times each month with a foster child and attending court hearings to advocate for the child’s best interests.

Mr. Johnson was recently featured
in the San Diego Attorney Journal

Mr. Johnson has been recognized as one of San Diego’s top lawyers by a number of third-party sources based upon peer reviews, including the following: