Steve Raber focuses on trial work, arbitration, and civil litigation all over the United States. He has significant experience as lead trial counsel in a variety of matters, including products liability, real estate, and business disputes. He also defends clients in consumer class action cases. Chambers USA describes Steve as “a preeminent trial lawyer. He is really effective at cross examination.” He has not only “a mastery of the facts but also a brilliant way of translating complicated issues for juries.” The Legal 500 similarly describes Steve as “skillful in the courtroom.” He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the premier legal association in America composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada. The College thoroughly investigates each nominee and selects only those who have demonstrated the highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism, and collegiality.
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Steve graduated from UCLA magna cum laude in 1982, where he played on the varsity golf team. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985. Steve joined Williams & Connolly in 1985 and served on the firm’s six-member Executive Committee from 2012 to 2015. Previously he spent 8 years on the firm’s hiring committee (1994-2002) and supervised the summer associate program during that period. He is a member of The Barristers, and co-founded the Celiac Disease Program at Children’s National Medical Center.
Though all cases vary and none is predictive, Steve's experience includes:
- Trial and appellate counsel for the former President and Defense Minister of a Latin American country in the first-ever civil trial in the United States against a former head of state of a foreign country. The National Law Journal named Steve its 2018 “Winning Litigator” for his work on this case.
- Trial counsel for Merck in the Vioxx litigation. His team won the first defense verdict in Humeston v. Merck, a case featured in The National Law Journal as one of its “Top Defense Wins of 2005.” Steve tried two additional Vioxx cases in Los Angeles Superior Court in which the court declared a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked 7-5 in Merck’s favor. The San Francisco Daily Journal described the outcome as a surprising win for Merck because it occurred in a court referred to as a “plaintiff lawyer’s playground.”
- Pro-bono counsel for 17 veterans who alleged that their statutory and Due Process rights were violated when the Veteran’s Administration caused unreasonable delays in adjudicating their appeals for service-related disability benefits that had been denied. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of Steve’s clients, abolishing the unfair legal standard for mandamus claims that had been applied for more than 20 years in favor of a new standard that should make it easier for veterans to force VA action. Martin v. O’Rourke, 891 F.3d 1338 (Fed. Cir. 2018); Mote v. Wilkie, 976 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2020).
- Senior counsel for Merck in the Januvia litigation in federal MDL (Southern District of California) and California state coordinated (Los Angeles Superior Court) proceedings. In 2021, both courts separately granted summary judgment victories for Merck based on preemption and general causation.
- Lead counsel for a global chocolate company in a California consumer class action relating to international supply chains. The district court dismissed the Complaint. Steve then argued the appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judgment in favor of Steve’s client.
- Lead counsel for Genentech in litigation involving Raptiva, a prescription biologic treatment for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis that was voluntarily withdrawn from the market. In the 10 bellwether cases selected for trial, the California state court granted summary judgment for Genentech in 7 cases and dismissed another case. These rulings led to a favorable global settlement of the litigation.
- Lead counsel for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in a consumer class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California. The court rejected claims that the labeling of certain Wrigley products was misleading and dismissed the case with prejudice, holding that the claims were expressly preempted by FDA regulations. Gustavson v. Wrigley Sales Co., 2014 WL 60197 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 7, 2014).
- Lead trial counsel for a Virginia real estate developer in a dispute over development rights to the Stafford Marketplace in Stafford, Virginia. After a week-long trial, the court ruled in favor of Steve’s client, clearing the way for him to develop a 780,000 square foot shopping center and residential project. Garrett Dev. Corp. v. Staffordborough-Reston LLC, Chancery No. 00-591 (Cir. Ct. Stafford County).
- Lead trial counsel for a chemical manufacturing company in a case brought by five landowners who alleged that the company had contaminated their groundwater. The plaintiffs claimed damages and remediation costs in excess of $100 million. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Steve’s client following a jury trial in Baldwin County, Alabama. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the favorable judgment.
- Lead trial counsel for AstraZeneca in the first MDL case alleging injuries caused by Seroquel, a second-generation antipsychotic medication. At the deposition of plaintiff’s expert witness on medical causation, Steve obtained admissions that resulted in summary judgment being granted for AstraZeneca the week before trial.
- Lead counsel in a California class action brought against a client that owns veterinary hospitals nationwide. The federal district court in Santa Ana, California granted the motion to dismiss all of Plaintiffs’ claims, finding that no reasonable consumer could have been misled by the client’s Wellness Plan contracts.
- Lead arbitration counsel for the owners of a real estate investment firm in a case alleging violations of non-compete agreements and unauthorized use of trade secrets.
- Trial counsel for a global power company in a commercial fraud case involving the sale of oil leases. The jury awarded $19.85 million to Steve’s client in Los Angeles Superior Court.
- Lead counsel for an FBI agent who was fired in retaliation for helping his fellow Hispanic FBI agents win a class action lawsuit against the agency for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Mata v. FBI, 71 F.3d 513 (5th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S. Ct. 1877 (1996).
- Trial counsel for the plaintiffs in a personal injury case arising from a fireworks experiment in an elementary school classroom. The jury returned an $11 million verdict in favor of Steve’s clients. See District of Columbia v. Howell, 607 A.2d 501 (D.C. 1992).
Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
“Products Liability & Mass Torts (Nationwide),” Chambers USA, 2008-2021
"Winning Litigator," The National Law Journal, 2018