David H.S. Commins


David Commins brings 33 years of litigation experience – 23 years running his own firm – to any case. Since 2016 he has been named a Super Lawyer based on peer recognition and professional achievement.

Mr. Commins graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980 with an A.B. in Economics. In 1982, he received an M.A. in Italian from Middlebury College in Vermont and Florence, Italy. And in 1986 he received his J.D. from the University of San Francisco. He then clerked for the Hon. Laurence D. Kay in the San Francisco Superior Court, Criminal Division, before starting work at Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May.

Mr. Commins has tried cases in Northern and Southern California, has arbitrated cases in several states before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) (and previously before the NASD, the NYSE, and the Pacific Stock Exchange), as well as AAA (the American Arbitration Association) and JAMS (the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service), is licensed in every State and Federal Court in California, and in the Federal District Court in Arizona.

Mr. Commins served on the board of the Codera Wine Group, Inc., which in 2001 sold the majority of its assets for approximately $140 million.

In March 2011, together with Mr. Knudsen, he obtained a verdict of over $1.8 million and a judgment of approximately $2.4 million in Smally v. Nationwide Insurance, a multi-party bad faith jury trial in Marin County.  The verdict included $1.2 million in punitive damages.

In June 2011, also together with Mr. Knudsen, he obtained a FINRA Award for $3.5 million plus stock options, compensation that had not been paid to a municipal bond trader, in Kelleher v. Wedbush Securities.

In 2012 he worked with John Capron and others in the firm’s successful representation of Purple Wine Company, LLC in the sale of Purple Wine’s Mark West Wine Brand and inventory to Constellation Brands U.S. Operations, Inc. for a purchase price of $160 million.

In 2019 he won an unusual FINRA award in favor of a responding broker in a forgivable note case, Oppenheimer v. Roche.

He serves regularly as a pro tem judge and mandatory settlement conference officer in San Francisco Superior Court, and he serves from time to time as a FINRA arbitrator.

Mr. Commins speaks fluent Italian and conversational Swedish.

He is also a fifth dan black belt in both Taekwondo and Yongmudo and is an instructor in the University of California Martial Arts Program.

David H S Commins

“Over the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to observe David Commins from two perspectives: as a jury strategist and as a client.  As a strategist, I work with many of the country’s best trial lawyers, and I consider David to be among this small group.  His calm demeanor and quiet confidence are obvious the minute you meet him, and are clearly appreciated by his clients, his jurors, and his opposing counsel.  David approaches each case with a rare combination of advocacy and common sense.  So, when my company needed a lawyer — and when I personally needed one — David was the obvious choice.”

Chris Ritter
Chief of Visual Trial Strategy and General Counsel
The Focal Point LLC