Gary A. Pemberton

Gary A. Pemberton

Irvine, California
Practice Admissions: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Courts of the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California, and all courts of the State of California.

Gary A. Pemberton is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department and is a resident in the Irvine office. Mr. Pemberton specializes in business and bankruptcy litigation and has handled breach of contract disputes, unfair competition, business torts, interference with contract, insurance litigation, real estate litigation, securities litigation, corporate director and officer litigation, public entity litigation, intellectual property litigation, bankruptcy litigation, probate litigation, health care litigation, environmental litigation, labor and employment litigation and class action litigation. Mr. Pemberton has tried a number of cases to successful conclusions in federal and state courts in San Francisco, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. Mr. Pemberton is admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Courts of the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California and all courts of the State of California. Based on the recommendation of other attorneys in the Orange County legal community, for the last 20 years the legal publication Martindale-Hubbell has awarded Mr. Pemberton an “AV Preeminent” rating, the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. From 2007 through 2010, Mr. Pemberton was also named a Southern California “Super Lawyer,” identifying him as one of the top attorneys in Southern California. Finally, he has been recognized as one of the best attorneys in Southern California by the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and Orange Coast magazine.

Mr. Pemberton graduated cum laude with a B.A. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1977. While at UCLA, Mr. Pemberton was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and the Pi Gamma Mu National Social Science Honor Society. He also volunteered extensively with the Big Brothers Organization. Mr. Pemberton then matriculated to Princeton Theological Seminary where he obtained a M. Div. in 1981. He then served as a Presbyterian pastor for two years before entering law school at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his J.D. in 1986. While at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Pemberton was awarded a Moot Court Commendation of Excellence and a Major Walter Dinkelspiel Scholarship, was Fundraising Chairperson for the Berkeley Law Foundation and volunteered his time for the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County. Mr. Pemberton also served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam, Jr., Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Active in the professional community, Mr. Pemberton has spoken and presented continuing education seminars on various topics related to business litigation. Mr. Pemberton has served on the Board of Directors of the Orange County Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and was the editor of its newsletter. Mr. Pemberton has also served on the Board of Directors of the Orange County Bar Association, the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Newport Beach/Costa Mesa/Irvine and the Board of Directors of the UCLA Club of Orange County. Mr. Pemberton is a member of the Business Litigation Section of the Orange County Bar Association. Mr. Pemberton is also active in the City of Irvine, where he resides, having coached Woodbridge High School to the Constitutional Rights Foundation Orange County Mock Trial Championship and served as Nation Chief of the YMCA Indian Princess Program in Irvine. Mr. Pemberton is married, with three daughters, ages 32, 27 and 24.

Professional Accomplishments:

First-chaired trial on Bankruptcy Trustee’s behalf and obtained ruling after briefing and arguing at Ninth Circuit resulting in a published opinion that luxury home, avocado groves and raw land were property of Bankruptcy Estate on theory irrevocable trust was a sham and debtor’s alter ego.

First-chaired trial defense of principal of mining company against multi-million dollar waste and trespass claim brought by subsequent landowner with favorable result after briefing and arguing successful opposition to motion for summary judgment filed by client’s insurance carrier and convincing carrier to pay significant proportion of client’s defense fees and costs.

First-chaired trial of breach of fiduciary duty claims on corporation’s behalf against ex-officers and directors and obtained $8.3 million verdict, plus $1 million in punitive damages.

First-chaired guarantors’ successful trial defense of breach of sublease claim brought by corporation alleging over $1 million in damages.

Briefed and obtained reversal at Ninth Circuit of adverse summary judgment on RICO claim filed by Canadian Receiver leading to favorable multi-million dollar settlement.

Enjoined hostile shareholders in takeover attempt of client corporation and obtained attorneys' fees award on corporation’s behalf against shareholders.

Obtained full dismissal with prejudice of $60 million claim in contract and business tort action brought by real estate developer against public entity redevelopment agency.

Successfully first chaired defense of commercial tenant in trial of $1 million breach of contract damage to premises action brought by landlord.

Successfully first-chaired jury trial of action brought by client landowners against contractor and owner of neighboring property for lead contamination of clients’ property.

Co-tried successful defense of public entity in action brought by developer challenging public entity's zoning regulations.

First-chaired trial and obtained compensatory and punitive damages on commercial creditor’s behalf against debtors in non-dischargeability action in bankruptcy court.

Expunged lis pendens recorded against clients’ commercial building and then obtained settlement during jury trial on fraud and conversion claims for a fraction of damages sought by plaintiff.

Successful counsel on two published appellate opinions creating precedent in important areas of redevelopment law.

Areas of Practice

  • Complex Civil, Business and Bankruptcy Litigation
  • Class Actions
  • Health Care
  • Directors and Officers Liability
  • Professional Malpractice


  • University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California
    • J.D. - 1986
  • Princeton Theological Seminary
    • M.Div - 1981
  • University of California, Los Angeles, CA
    • B.A. - 1977
    • Honors: Cum Laude

Honors and Awards

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating (1997-2017)
  • Southern California Super Lawyer (2007-2010)
  • Los Angeles Magazine Top Attorneys in Southern California (2009)
  • Orange Coast Magazine Top Attorneys in Orange County (2010)
  • Los Angeles Times Top Attorneys in Southern California (2014-2017)

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of California
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers
  • Business Litigation Section of Orange County Bar Association
  • Masters Division of Orange County Bar Association