Mr. Lawton received his B.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1983 and went on to attend Georgetown University Law Center, earning his J.D. degree in 1986 and serving as an editor of the American Criminal Law Review. After graduating from Georgetown, Mr. Lawton served for one year as a law clerk to Judge Thomas Tang of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Phoenix, Arizona. Thereafter, Mr. Lawton practiced law with the San Diego office of Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP for eight years before launching his own law firm, Lawton Law Firm, in downtown San Diego in 1995. Lawton Law Firm now employs two attorneys and three non-attorney staff members.

Throughout his career in private practice, Mr. Lawton has specialized in civil trial work, civil appeals (he is certified as a legal specialist in Appellate Law by the State Bar's California Board of Legal Specialization), and complex commercial and intellectual property litigation on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. Mr. Lawton is principally a trial and appellate lawyer; trials and appeals occupy about 90% of his practice. Mr. Lawton is also a counselor. He regularly counsels both corporate and individual clients in a variety of settings, often in negotiations and sometimes in transactions. His corporate clients have included life sciences companies, manufacturers and distributors of various products, landowners and property developers, large corporations, a local major league baseball franchise, automobile dealerships, and “mom-and-pop” businesses. His individual clients have included officers, directors, and shareholders (both majority and minority) of corporations, bankers, elected officials, politicians, professional athletes and coaches, attorneys, accountants, land owners, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and other individuals.

Mr. Lawton and his colleagues and staff have devoted their practice to clients that demand the highest level of skill, expertise, and use of technical practice tools which enable them to take on large firms and complex litigation while at the same time providing personalized and responsive service.


Mr. Lawton has tried multiple jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations, and litigated many cases to disposition short of trial (by way of motions to dismiss and for summary judgment). Mr. Lawton has obtained settlements and judgments in his clients' favor totaling millions of dollars, and obtained what is believed to be the third-largest jury verdict in the legal history of Imperial County (for $14,286,461, after a nine-week jury trial). Over the twenty-four years he has practiced, his caseload has included cases involving patent infringement, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition, defamation, business torts (such as trade libel and intentional interference with contractual relations), below-cost pricing, wage-and-hour laws, federal and state antifraud laws, shareholder derivative actions, real estate- related litigation, the California Subdivision Map Act, savings and loan-related litigation, insurance bad faith, officer and director liability, RICO, the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, anti-SLAPP litigation, theft of trade secrets, partnership dissolutions, surety and antideficiency law, UCC, product liability, breach of contract, negligence, First Amendment, governmental liability under the federal Administrative Procedure Act and federal and California Tort Claims Acts and 42 U.S.C. section 1983, race and sex discrimination, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, immigration issues, the U.C. fertility clinic scandal, wrongful termination, stock option disputes, professional fee disputes, professional sports-related matters, the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act, civil contempt, legal and accounting malpractice, and other topics. Mr. Lawton has handled civil appeals and writs in both the California and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Lawton has successfully litigated cases against some of the largest law firms and government agencies in the State of California.


The State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization has certified Mr. Lawton as a legal specialist in Appellate Law, a distinction held by only 25 lawyers in San Diego County.

In January 2009, Mr. Lawton learned of his nomination for inclusion in 2009 San Diego Super Lawyers based on anonymous peer evaluation. He was so honored again in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 in the primary practice area of intellectual property litigation

In 1997, two years after opening his own practice, Mr. Lawton earned an “A/V” rating from Martindale-Hubbell. In 1992, 1995, and 2001, Mr. Lawton earned the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program's Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions of legal services to pro bono client Kevin Artt, an Irish refugee resisting extradition and deportation. Mr. Lawton also has earned multiple Wiley W. Manuel awards for community service from the State Bar of California for pro bono work on behalf of indigent refugees (including Mr. Artt) fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in the United States.


Mr. Lawton teaches advanced appellate advocacy at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law since 2001. In October 2010 and again in October 2012, he was selected to present the plaintiff's closing argument in "Masters of the Art: A Trial Skills Seminar," an ABTL program presented to an audience of lawyers and judges. In October 2008, he presented the cross-examination of the plaintiff in another ABTL/State Bar daylong mock trial presentation to a distinguished group of lawyers and federal and State judges. In October 2007, he moderated a panel presentation to the membership of the Thomas More Society entitled “The Attorney Civility Crisis and What Can Be Done About It.” In September 2006, he presented the winning plaintiff's closing argument in “Masters of the Art: Building to the Close,” a daylong mock trial presentation presented jointly by the Association of Business Trial Lawyers of San Diego and the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California to an audience of lawyers and federal and State judges.

From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Lawton served as Chairman of the San Diego Education Committee of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California. In that capacity, he lectured on post-trial motions practice. In addition, Mr. Lawton organized multiple continuing legal education presentations for and involving both bench and bar in southern California on behalf of the Section.


Master, J. Clifford Wallace Inn of Court, 2011-; President, Thomas More Society, 2007-2009; Member, San Diego County Bar Assn. Committee on Civility, Professionalism and Integrity (2007-2008); Member, Louis M. Welsh American Inn of Court, 2001-2003; Chairman, San Diego Education Committee, Litigation Section, State Bar of California, 1995-1997; American Bar Assn.; Assn. of Business Trial Lawyers; Appellate Courts Committee, San Diego County Bar Assn; State Bar Conference of Delegates, 1996; Editorial Board, ABTL News, 1994-1997.

Mr. Lawton is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Federal, Ninth, and Fifth Circuits, all U.S. District Courts in California, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, and the California courts.

Mr. Lawton served as a Probation Monitor for the State Bar from 1993 to 1995, in which capacity he monitored and counseled attorneys on State Bar probation.

Mr. Lawton served for several years as a volunteer in the Family Literacy Program at St. Vincent De Paul Village in San Diego and at Mama’s Kitchen (a non-profit agency which delivers meals to men, women and children affected by AIDS and other critical illnesses). He has also served as a mentor at Nativity Prep Academy (a tuition-free, inner-city Catholic middle school for at-risk children in Logan Heights).


Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; Exit 41, Inc.; Genelux Corporation; Corporation; AntiCancer, Inc.; Edward Van Halen; E.L.V.H., Inc.; Padres, L.P. (San Diego Padres Baseball Club); Irving Development Co; Cubic Corporation; AMN Healthcare, Inc.; GMS Janitorial Services, Inc.; ACCO Engineered Systems; ImageWare Systems, Inc.; Notification Technologies, Inc.; Bsquare Corp.; Newport National Corporation; Pacific West Realty Group; Vivendi Universal Net USA Group, Inc.;, Inc.; Fiserv, Inc.; Focus Golf Systems, Inc.; Pacific Lands, L.P.; John Boggs & Associates, Inc.; Coffee Ambassador, Inc.; Collectible Concepts Corp.; Prime Steaks, Inc.; Calexico Hospital Management Group, LLC; Legend Tours, Inc.; E-Realty, Inc.; Olympic Auto Sales; Speak, Inc.


"Cochran Legacy a Model for Young Lawyers" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 10, 2015); "Take a closer look at physician-assisted suicide bill" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 27, 2015); "A Major Moment for the Major Leagues" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 22, 2015); "Untouchable - The Problem of Prosecutorial Misconduct" (San Diego Daily Transcript, April 8, 2015); "Ending Prosecutorial Unaccountability" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 2, 2015); "SDSU No. 1 in your heart, No. 64 in the classroom" (San Diego Daily Transcript, March 25, 2015); "Lessons in business, courage and service" (San Diego Daily Transcript, March 11, 2015); "I Dare You, Mr. Mayor" (San Diego Daily Transcript, January 22, 2015); "Torture, and never having to say sorry" (Daily Journal, December 26, 2014); "John Lennon and his American lawyer" (Daily Journal, December 2, 2013); "Moving your law offices: too much stuff" (Daily Journal, October 22, 2013); "Lessons Learned From The Paris Peace Accords" (The Recorder, June 7, 2013); "Lessons Abound From Peace Accord Negotiations" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 24, 2013) "The Devilish Things Court Do" (The Recorder, May 13, 2013); "Torturous Logic, Ten Years Later" (The Recorder, May 6, 2013); "Norb Ehrenfreund and the International Criminal Court" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, February 7, 2013); "Fraud Statute Invites Bogus Corruption Charges: Part 1" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, October 30, 2012); "Fraud Statute Invites Bogus Corruption Charges: Part 2" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, November 5, 2012); "Sister Kathleen Marie and the Code of Canon Law" (San Diego Source - The Daily Transcript, July 30, 2012); "Andy Griffith, William Rehnquist and a 'Man in a Hurry'" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, July 09, 2012); "William Mulholland And His Lawyer, 100 years later" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 13, 2012); "Flood v. Kuhn and justice versus law: Part 2" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 31, 2012); "Flood v. Kuhn and justice versus law: Part 1" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 30, 2012); "The 10-year anniversary of my torture memo: a law school commencement address" — by John Yoo (San Diego Source - The Daily Transcript, May 16, 2012); “Idiosyncratic Jurist Is His Own Man” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, November 10, 2011); “D Lawton, Thomas Tang, Robert Boochever, and the War between Law and Justice” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, October 28-31, 2011); “An Open Letter from Frank McCourt to Bud Selig” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 20, 2011); “The Day Lawyers Took Over Baseball” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 17-18, 2010); “Untouchable” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, March 29, 2010); “Everything Must Go” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, February 17-18, 2010); “For Lawyers and Politicians Alike, Regret Can Be a Valuable Thing” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, January 9, 2009); “Beyond Civility Codes” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, August 14, 2007); “Living in an Age of Phony Apologies” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, February 24, 2004); “Fair Shake? Arbitration Industry Has No Incentive to Reform a System That Serves It Well” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, July 24, 2002); “Torts Need No Reform; Laws Already Protect Real Victims” (Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 4, 2001).

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