Neil Popovic is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office and is Team Leader of the International Arbitration team.
Areas of Practice
Mr. Popovic's litigation experience includes a wide range of commercial disputes, including consumer class actions, white collar criminal matters (including internal investigations) and international dispute resolution (including international arbitration and litigation) and counseling. Mr. Popovic has developed expertise in legal issues related to environmental marketing, as well as federal preemption. Mr. Popovic also practices international environmental law, including representing clients in international negotiations. He teaches courses in International Litigation and Arbitration and International Environmental Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). His commercial practice includes extensive experience litigating matters under California's Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professionals Code section 17200. Mr. Popovic also serves as a Project Complaint Mechanism Expert for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Mr. Popovic has represented a variety of clients including, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, American Apparel, The Republic of Argentina, Asiacontent.com, Caremark, Inc., CCOF, Concern Sojuzvneshtrans, Dah Mei Silk Weaving Fty. Co., Ltd., DeLaval, Earthjustice, EarthRights International, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Fiji Water Company LLC, The FRS Company, Julia Butterfly Hill, Home Americair of California, Hospital of Barstow, Inc., iGlobe Partners, IMPAX Laboratories, ITT Sheraton Corporation, Lenovo, Inc., McDonald's Corporation, MCI, Inc., Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, Muzak Limited Partnership, Nelson & Associates, MDS Nordion, Palm Inc., Polyprima Karyareksa, PT, RSA Security Inc., The Republic of Congo, Roll International Corporation, Seagate Technology, ValleyCare Health System, Veritable Vegetable, Inc., and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, he was a shareholder at Heller Ehrman in San Francisco; before that, he was an attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now called Earthjustice) International Program in San Francisco; and prior to that, he practiced with a San Francisco civil and criminal litigation boutique.
•Recipient of the Robert G. Sproul, Jr. Award, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 2015
•Northern California Super Lawyer, San Francisco Magazine, 2012-2015
•Leading Environmental Practices Lawyer, The Recorder, 2012
•Top 10 Pro Bono Efforts of 2012
Representing Korean construction company in ICSID arbitration under Korea-Oman BIT.
Represented Seagate in class actions challenging disclosures about computer hard drive storage capacity, including arguing leading case regarding class action settlements, Cho v. Seagate Technology Holdings, Inc., 177 Cal. App. 4th 734 (2009).
Obtained complete dismissal with prejudice in putative class action alleging greenwashing based on Fiji Water's use of green drop, fijigreen.com and every drop is green on labels of Fiji Water bottles, including successfully arguing appeal. Hill v. Roll International Corp., 195 Cal. App. 4th 1295 (2011).
Represented international medical products company in threatened international arbitration regarding distribution rights. Successfully prevented other party from initiating arbitration.
Advised multinational biotechnology company regarding corporate social responsibility issues, including human rights, environmental and labor relations.
Obtained summary judgment (affirmed on appeal) for hospital group in putative class action alleging unfair practices in connection with rates charged to uninsured patients.
Represent community hospital in putative class action challenging reasonableness of prices charged to uninsured patients for emergency care.
Represented Palm Inc., in consumer class actions involving Palm products and services, including data security issues and alleged product defects.
Represented Indonesian chemical company in international arbitration before London Court of International Arbitration arising out of sale of chemical manufacturing facilities.
Represented Taiwanese business owner in series of disputes arising out of sale of textile-related businesses. Includes first-chair experience in international arbitration before China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).
Represented McDonald's in highly publicized, multiple class action “french fries” litigation in California, Washington, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois, involving alleged non-disclosure that fries contain beef flavoring.
Represented flash memory and computer hard drive manufacturers in consumer class actions alleging inadequate disclosure of memory storage capacity.
Represented Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) in action to collect defaulted loan obligation under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, creating new Ninth Circuit law on scope of commercial activity exception to foreign sovereign immunity. Af-Cap, Inc. v. Chevron Overseas (Congo) Ltd., 475 F.3d 1080 (9th Cir. 2007).
Represented Republic of Argentina in defending against attempt to seize Argentine presidential airplane ( Tango 01 ) to collect debt arising out of Argentine financial crisis. Case dismissed under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Colella v. Republic of Argentina, 2007 WL 154204 (N.D. Cal., May 29, 2007).
Represent Republic of Argentina in litigation over attempts to execute judgments obtained by creditors in connection with distressed debt.
Co-authored successful amicus brief in United States Supreme Court on behalf of Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, and international and foreign bar associations in Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), and Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), discussing relevance of international human rights and foreign law in 8th Amendment challenge to life without parole sentences for non-homicide juvenile offenders.
Advised foreign government as special counsel in negotiations for free trade agreements with United States and third country.
Represented individual employee of chip manufacturer in criminal antitrust investigation involving DRAM computer chips.
Represented Russian freight forwarding company Concern Sojuzvneshtrans in litigation involving alleged breach of guaranty on lease of shipping containers.
Represented green dental products company in connection with dispute over distribution and marketing of products.
Represented energy drink company in putative class action over marketing of products as natural.
Represented organic produce distribution business in business ownership dispute.
Successfully defended pharmaceutical manufacturer in administrative disciplinary proceedings to suspend license.
Represented major insurance brokerage firm in class action litigation challenging its disclosure of commissions and fees.
Publications & News
•Data Loss Issues, in Cloud Computing Deskbook (Thompson Reuters 2013; updated 2014, 2015)
• Sovereign Litigation in Latin America: Top Five Issues To Think of When Doing Business With a Latin American Country, Latin American Blog (August 18, 2014)
• All Natural Litigation, Food & Drink Magazine (with Paul Seeley) (Summer 2014)
• Corporate Liability for Human Rights Violations After Kiobel: Judge Scheindlin Opens the Door, Travaux: Berkeley's International Law Blog (April 25, 2014)
• Environmental Litigation Against Corporations: Where Now? in Corporate Responsibility for Human Rights Impacts: New Expectations and Paradigms (ABA 2014)
•Proposition 37 Permits “Natural” Labeling for Non-GMO Processed Food (with Peter S. Hecker & Robert J. Uram) (Sheppard Mullin, October 8, 2012)
•Hotspots and Trends in International Discovery, in Inside the Minds: Complying with International Discovery Regulations (Aspatore 2012)
• The Chevron Ecuador Saga Continues as Second Circuit Overturns Anti-Enforcement Injunction, Latin American Blog (with Rachel Tarko Hudson)(March 12, 2012)
• Court of Appeal Reminds Litigants That Settling With Named Plaintiff Does Not Necessarily End Putative Class Action, Class Action Defense Strategy Blog (with Lai Lam Yip) (January 3, 2012)
•In Pursuit of Environmental Human Rights: Commentary on the Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, in Dinah L. Shelton ed., Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar 2011), reprinted from 27 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 487 (1996)
•Sometimes the System Works, Daily Journal (January 25, 2011)
• U.S. Courts Order Discovery for Use Overseas in Chevron-Ecuador Disputes, reprinted in Law360 as In Context: The Chevron-Ecuador Litigation (with Rachel Tarko Hudson) (December 17, 2010)
• Ninth Circuit Makes CAFA Jurisdiction Stick, Class Action Defense Strategy Blog (April 23, 2010)
•Don't Cry (Too Much) For Us, Transcript - UC Berkeley School of Law (Spring/Summer 2009)
• Foreign Matters: How to obtain recognition of foreign-court judgments, The Recorder (May 1, 2009)
• How a U.S. Climate Change Bill Could Lead to Trouble at the WTO, Climate Change and Clean Technology Blog (March 26, 2009)
• Do you recognize this? Domestication of Foreign-Country Money Judgments in California, Berkeley Journal of International Law Publicist (2009)
•Recovery Tactics Outlined for Foreign Takeover Losses, Oil and Gas Journal (with Alex Lathrop) (June 25, 2007)
•BIT Implications of Recent Government Activities in Bolivia and Venezuela, Heller Ehrman Bulletin (Summer 2000)
•Some Thoughts on KOREA SUPPLY-Monetary Remedies Under Section 17200, Heller Ehrman Bulletin (April 15, 2003)
•Some Thoughts on Kraus and Cortez, Heller Ehrman Bulletin (Summer 2000)
•Women and the Environment, in Kelly Askin & Dorean Koenig, eds., Women and International Human Rights Law (Transnational Publishers 1999)
•Environmental Injustice on United States Bases in Panama: International Law and the Right to Land Free from Contamination and Explosives, 38 Virginia Journal of International Law 401 (1998) (with J. Martin Wagner)
•The Myth of Objectivity, in Human Rights, Environmental Law, and the Earth Charter (Boston Research Center for the 21st Century 1998)
•CCRI's Hidden Conflict: Prop. 209 Would Violate Human Rights Treaties Recently Ratified by the U.S. Senate, The Recorder (October 9, 1996)
•Environmental Racism in the United States and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 14 Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 277 (1996)
•In Pursuit of Environmental Human Rights: Commentary on the Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, 27 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 487 (1996)
•Pursuing Environmental Justice With International Human Rights and State Constitutions, 15 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 338 (1996)
•U.N. Special Rapporteur on Toxic Dumping, 8:1 International Toxics Investigator 9 (1996)
•Humanitarian Law, Protection of the Environment and Human Rights, 8 Georgetown International Environmental Law Review 67 (1995)
•The Game of the Name, Ms. Magazine (November-December 1994)
•Lawmaking in the United Nations: The UN Study on Human Rights and Environment, 3 Review of European Community and International Environmental Law 197 (1994) (with Adriana Fabra Aguilar)
•Sex, Violence & Rock 'n' Roll: The First Amendment at the Close of the Millennium, St. Hieronymus Press (1994) (with David Lance Goines)
•Using Environmental Law for Effective Environmental Management-Hungary, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund/Environmental Management and Law Association (1994) (editor)
•The Right to Participate in Decisions that Affect the Environment, 10 Pace Environmental Law Review 683 (1993)
•Comment, A Human Rights Approach to the Labor Rights of Undocumented Workers, 74 California Law Review 1715 (1986) (published under former name Neil A. Friedman)
•Moderator, McGeorge School of Law Investment Treaty Dispute Settlement Symposium What and Who Really Decide Who Decides and How It's Decided?, February 19, 2016
•Presenter, Accountability and Sustainability: Views from Practice on Regional and Global Environmental and Social Performance Standards, November 3, 2015
• How Can International Environmental Law Reduce Disaster Risk? Stanford Law School, May 21, 2015
• The Role of International Courts? Berkeley Law, April 6, 2015
• Litigating the Argentine Debt Crisis, Santa Clara Law School, February 26, 2015
•Effective Advocacy in International Arbitration, Initiation of Arbitration, Emergency Relief and Interim Measures, UC Berkeley School of Law, February 20, 2015
•ACI's Summit on Food & Beverage Marketing and Advertising, State vs. Federal Rights as to Food Claims - The State of Preemption in Food Marketing and Advertising Compliance, July 30, 2014
• International Arbitration and Domestic Priorities: How Do They Coexist? UC Berkeley School of Law, June 6, 2014
•Current Trends in International Arbitration, International Arbitration in California: California-Specific Issues and Travels, San Francisco, September 6, 2013
•New Dimensions in International Dispute Resolution, Discovery in International Arbitration Proceedings, Milan, Italy, December 13, 2012
• Dispute Resolution with Non-US Companies: Is International Arbitration the Answer? SMRH Del Mar, November 15, 2012
•University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law Symposium, Recognition in a Corrupt World, November 2, 2012
• Boalt at the Vanguard: Evolving Legal Education, September 22, 2012
•Riesenfeld Symposium at Berkeley Law, Lessons from Latin America: Case Studies in Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, March 13, 2012
•A3: A Conference on Climate Justice at UC Irvine Law School, Climate Change Litigation: One Pathway to Past & Future Relief for Climate Change Victims, April 1, 2011
•ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, 9th Annual Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Institute, Negotiating in the Caucus Stage of Mediation, Nov. 4, 2011
•The Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, Green Pitch or Green Wash -- What's Legal in Green Advertising? Oct. 22, 2011
•Accountability and Sustainability: Views from Practice on Regional and Global Environmental and Social Performance Standards
November 3, 2015
•Mr. Popovic served as a law clerk to the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and Santa Ana.
•Mr. Popovic was a judicial extern for Justice Joseph R. Grodin of the Supreme Court of California.