Skip to main content
Nossaman LLP

William E. Adams


T 415.438.7232
F 415.398.2438
50 California Street, 34th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

William Adams represents clients in finding solutions to a wide range of disputes.  Mr. Adams is a seasoned litigator who has over two decades of experience representing small businesses and partnerships in complex commercial litigation matters including claims of commercial fraud and dissolution, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair business practices, breach of contract, corporate torts and trademark and copyright infringement.

Mr. Adams has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in more than 45 trials and binding arbitrations, as well as several appeals. Mr. Adams also regularly represents public entities, defending claims of torts, breach of contract, inverse condemnation and violations of civil rights.  In civil litigation disputes that are going to trial, he quickly assesses claims and trial risks, and uses these skills to negotiate resolutions for his clients with minimal expense. Additionally, Mr. Adams serves as a settlement judge and judicial arbitrator in Bay Area courts, where he evaluates cases to assist in pre-trial resolution.

Mr. Adams regularly writes and speaks on topics affecting the restaurant industry, including issues relating to the purchase and sale of restaurants, employment compensation and tip-pooling issues, and liability risk associated with food quality and patrons' allergies.

Prior to joining Nossaman, Mr. Adams was a partner at a national mid-sized law firm.  While attending Pepperdine University School of Law, Mr. Adams served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Representative Work

  • Trespass/Nuisance/Contribution.  Represented a North Hollywood business in legal action against neighboring property, a California Recycling Collection Center, for storm water and airborne discharges contributing to the pollution of the Los Angeles River.  Matter settled at trial, with Defendants agreeing to pay our client over $1 million for property modification costs and litigation fees.
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty.  Represented small woman-owned science and engineering company in breach of fiduciary duty and theft of trade secrets case arising out of procurement process for services provided to NASA/Ames resulting in jury verdict for the plaintiff, which was reversed by the trial judge in post-verdict motions.  Case settled while pending in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
  • Business Purchase Dispute.  Represented client who purchased a small retail computer business in Silicon Valley.  After not experiencing the level of profitability the seller had, the client investigated and discovered that the previous owner had trafficked in the sale of “remarked” CPUs, an illegal but highly profitable business practice.  Representation of this client involved coordinating investigations by the FBI and Intel’s worldwide fraudulent products division.  The case was resolved through binding arbitration, in which a favorable award was secured for the client.
  • Contract Dispute.  Represented client rented diesel-powered generators to provide back-up power to a large construction project in Secaucus, New Jersey, run by the Bechtel Corporation.  Bechtel refused to pay its bill for additional time that it kept and used the client’s equipment. It counted on its size and market power to prevent the client from recovery of its contract profits.  The client pursued the matter in court and prevailed after a one-week jury trial.
  • Fraud Claims.  Represented client who became the Chief Executive Officer of a start-up company that harnessed the power of the Internet to pair golf enthusiasts with world-caliber golf professionals in analyzing and improving golf swings.  The client entertained the business interests of another local company in the golf industry, but when the business did not succeed, was personally sued for fraud.  Through a strategic investigation of the accuser, it was proven in trial that, in fact, the client had been the victim of a desperate attempt to salvage a dying business, and the plaintiff dropped its case after opening argument.
  • Inverse Condemnation.  Represented homeowners in inverse condemnation action against the City of Los Altos for sewer intrusion resulting in defense verdict.  Adverse appeal in Sixth Circuit.
  • Mechanic’s Lien Action.  Represented client who refused to pay a fencing contractor who installed defective and substandard wrought iron fencing until the work was repaired. The contractor refused to make the repairs and instead recorded a mechanic’s lien against the property and forced the matter to litigation.  Through a careful background investigation, it was discovered that not only was the mechanic’s lien defective, but the contractor had allowed his contractor’s license to lapse.  After a three-day court trial, the court entered judgment against the contractor and awarded substantial damages to the client.
  • Negligence and Inverse Condemnation Defense.  Represented City of Oakland in a negligence and inverse condemnation defense case involving McKillop Road in Oakland’s 75-year history of landslides.  In 2006, the last portion of the hillside gave way, substantially damaging numerous homes and businesses.  Property owners banded together and pursued lawsuits against various public agencies, in which they alleged that improper maintenance of the roadways, sub-surface infrastructure, and a creek at the base of the hillside led to the catastrophe.  The City retained us to perform extensive testing and discovery, which resulted in the City making a compelling case that the cause of the landslide had nothing to do with the City’s maintenance practices.  The City resolved the entire litigation for nominal settlements, while the property owners proceeded to trial against other defendants.
  • Public Contracting Dispute. Represented City of Oakland in a public contracting dispute.  Client selected the plaintiff as the low bidder for public works construction.  When it was discovered that the plaintiff violated the prevailing wage laws, the plaintiff sued the City, claiming that he had been misled into applying the wrong labor rate standards in the bidding process.  Due to the nature and extent of the construction work, the case was complicated and required nearly one month of testimony to a jury.  At the conclusion of trial, through a carefully crafted simplification of the facts and an explanation of the contracting process, the City was found completely free of obligation to the plaintiff’s claims.
  • Rescission Actions. Represented life insurance company faced with a series of losses arising out of deaths occurring very near in time to the submission of the life insurance application.  Investigation revealed that the applicant had failed to provide critical information regarding health and personal habits, which would have resulted in either a denial of their applications, or substantially higher premium rates.  In three separate trials, the client elected to present this evidence to a court to establish its entitlement to rescind the life insurance policies.  In each of the three cases, the client prevailed.

Awards & Honors

Selected to the Northern California Super Lawyers, 2016-2018.

William E. Adams
William E. Adams



J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law, 1990

B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1986



Supreme Court of California

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

U.S. District Court, Southern District of California


Professional Affiliations

Member, Earl Warren Inn of Court

Awards & Honors

Selected to the Northern California Super Lawyers, 2016-2018.

  • Professionals
  • Practices
  • Success Stories
  • News
  • Events
  • Resources
  • Firm Pages