Recent News

Robert Gerard and Bryan Friedman attend Surf Industry Waterman’s Ball event

FSG partners Robert Gerard and Bryan Friedman attended the 2017 “Waterman’s Ball” on August 5th at The Ranch in Laguna Beach, hosted by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) .

The event raised money to support 19 ocean environmental organizations and is spearheaded by the SIMA Environmental Fund.  This year’s honorees included Waterman of the Year Bethany Hamilton, Environmentalist of the Year Cyrill Gutsch, and Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Herbie Fletcher.  SIMA also recognized Fernando Aguerre, President of the International Surfing Association, with a special award for his tireless – and successful – quest to get surfing into the Olympics.

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Friedman Stroffe & Gerard once again selected as one of OC’s top law firms

FSG has once again been selected by the Orange County Business Journal for its annual list of the top law firms in Orange County.

FSG first submitted the survey data in 2016 and the firm was immediately selected, ranking #76 in FSG’s first year on the list. FSG moved up to #74 on the 2017 list.  The list is compiled by Orange County Business Journal staff through surveys distributed to and completed by local law firms. Over 1,000 law firms, comprising over 16,000 attorneys, operate in Orange County, so ranking in the Top 100 is prestigious.


FSG adds high-profile litigator, Richard W. Millar, Jr., as Of Counsel

IRVINE, CA, January 16, 2017 — Richard W. Millar, Jr. has joined Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. (“FSG”) as Of Counsel.  Millar will work in FSG’s Litigation and Real Estate & Construction groups. FSG is a leading transactional and litigation law firm based in Irvine.

Millar has been a practicing attorney in California for approximately 50 years.  He is well-known in the Orange County legal community as a top litigator and as a regular columnist for “Orange County Lawyer Magazine” (official publication of the Orange County Bar Association) with over 160 articles published. Millar’s practice is primarily business, real estate, and construction litigation.  Over the years, he has been hired by almost every title insurance company operating in Southern California to litigate real estate title issues.  He has tried over 100 cases to verdict and handled over 50 Appeals. Millar has represented owners, general contractors, and subcontractors in a wide variety of construction disputes.

Millar has received Martindale-Hubbell’s A-V rating for 35 years. The A-V rating is the highest rating possible for both legal ability and ethics. He has a 10 AVVO rating and is listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in American Law.

In 2015, Dick received the Franklin G. West Award from the Orange County Bar Association, which is the Bar’s highest award presented to an outstanding attorney or judge who has advanced justice and the law.

Millar served for several years on the Orange County Superior Court’s Arbitration and Mandatory Settlement Conference panels. He has also acted as a private mediator. He has served as an expert witness in the Orange County Superior Court in attorney malpractice actions as well as attorney fee disputes.  Millar started his legal career in Los Angeles, first as a law clerk and then as Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. He then moved into private practice and for the last 35 years was a partner at a prominent Orange County firm.  Millar received his J.D. from the University of San Francisco.  His memberships have included the American Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, Orange County Bar Association, Peter Elliot Inn of Court, and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.  In 2002, Millar served as President of the Orange County Bar Association, which is one of the largest Bar Associations in America.

“We are very pleased to have Richard join our firm,” says James D. Stroffe, managing shareholder. “His stellar reputation and vast experience in litigation will be a tremendous asset in serving FSG’s clients. Also, having Richard join us makes FSG the only law firm in Orange County that has two former Orange County Bar Presidents in the same firm (Robert Gerard was the Bar President in 2003).”


Susan Arduengo moderates panel on “Closing the Wage Gap” for Newport Chamber

On November 8, 2016, FSG’s Susan Arduengo moderated a panel on Closing the Wage Gap before the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.  The panel included Mediator Katherine Edwards, Senior Counsel for Taco Bell Natasha Pfeiffer, and CEO of Tigress Negotiating Zelekha Amirzada.  Susan initiated a lively discussion on a number of topics including understanding fair pay law, how employers can support women and avoid lawsuits, and how women can better advocate for themselves in the workplace.  The event was a great success and brought light to a significant issue for both businesses and working women.

Questions? Contact Susan Arduengo at


Article: “Avoiding Liability for the Use of Images on the Web”

When I meet new people and am asked what I do, I typically respond with an anecdote or two. One I regularly use describes how I helped resolve a complaint that an image was used in a website without permission. “That happened to me once!” is something I’ve heard many times in response.

I always ask for the details. And while there is some variation, I tend to hear the same tale: the image was found somewhere on the Web, saved, and casually inserted into the person’s own website. In explanation, sometimes I hear, “I thought that was allowed; it’s free, right?” Other times the person swears the image was legitimately downloaded from a “royalty-free” site. And then every so often, I get a shoulder shrug: “I dunno.” The price to get things “square” with the image owner varies, but often exceeds $1,000.00 for a short-lived use. Ouch.

The purpose here is two-fold: First, this article will attempt to dispel the myth that images on the Web are free. Second, it will provide a few common sense suggestions to help reduce the chance of walking into an unexpected bill for infringing another’s copyright… (Read the complete article)

Andrew Nelson is a shareholder at Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. in Irvine, California. His practice emphasizes cost-effective resolution of disputes. Contact him at or 949.265.1110.

Susan Arduengo honored as Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador of the Year

FSG associate Susan Arduengo has been honored as one of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassadors of the Year.  The three honorees for 2016 are Joe Lewis, Susan Arduengo and Brandon Roesler.  A presentation for the awards will be given at the annual Newport Beach “Mayor’s Reception” on December 13th.  More information is available at the Chamber’s website at  Congratulations, Susan!

Questions? Contact Susan Arduengo at

Article “Marijuana in the Workplace”

Grass, reefer, bud, or pot. Whatever your generation calls it (and the list of nicknames is long and oftentimes amusing), marijuana legalization is a hot topic across the country and in the workplace.

Although the list is ever changing, and may soon change in California, as of the date of this article, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and Washington, D.C., have all legalized recreational and medical marijuana.  Twenty other states, including California, have legalized medical marijuana.  Additionally, this year several more states—Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri—will vote on the legalization of medical marijuana while Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Since it went into effect in 1996, California’s Compassionate Use Act has permitted the use of medical marijuana for medical purposes. Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in California. However, Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, will be on the November 8, 2016 General Election ballot and California voters can decide whether adults may use, possess, purchase, and grow marijuana for recreational purposes. Nonetheless, the changes in state law in California and other states have not affected the legal status of marijuana on the federal level. Using marijuana, medicinally or recreationally, continues to be a criminal offense under federal law.

Notwithstanding federal law, a recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans now believe that marijuana use should be legalized for all purposes. Further, a 2015 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that nearly 9.5% of the U.S. adult population used marijuana within the past year. Clearly, the stigma associated with marijuana seems to be fading.

Should California employers respond to the legal and cultural shift surrounding marijuana? And if yes, how?  Let’s explore the interplay between marijuana and the workplace … (Read the complete article)

Susan Arduengo is an attorney at Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. in Irvine, California. Susan represents employers in all aspects of employment law, including counseling, compliance, litigation prevention, single plaintiff litigation, and class actions. Contact her at or 949.265.1133.

Article: “If Your Confidentiality Agreements Do Not Comply With New Federal Law, You Are Leaving Money On The Table”

Here’s the situation: you, a business, believe you have secret information that gives you a leg up on your competition. You likely refer to it as “proprietary,” “confidential,” and your “trade secrets,” whether plans, designs, procedures, methods, or other form of information. To help ensure this information stays secret and keep your competitive advantage, you (hopefully) enter into agreements that require employees, independent contractors, and vendors keep your information confidential.

Historically, if you suspected someone of purloining your business information, your legal options were most likely limited to pursuing a state court lawsuit. There you would allege that the offender breached a contract or misappropriated trade secrets–straightforward violations of state law. If you were successful, you might recover some money for your injury, maybe some added money for punishment of the offender, and possibly even money for the attorneys’ fees you spent.

Just recently, however, the federal government decided to get in on the action, enacting into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) on May 11, 2016. At first glance, your reaction might be “who cares?” But this new law does affect you.  (Read the complete article)

Andrew R. Nelson is a shareholder at Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C., a full-service business law firm based in Irvine. His practice emphasizes cost-effective resolution of disputes. Contact him at or 949-265-1110.


Article: “Is Your Website ADA Compliant?”

By now, most businesses are aware of the obligation to have all business premises compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that disabled persons be afforded “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice and private plaintiffs’ attorneys have extended this obligation to online websites.  Read the article.

If you require further information regarding this matter, you should contact Bryan Friedman ( at Friedman Stroffe & Gerard, P.C. or an attorney regularly handling your affairs.


Andy Nelson speaks to architects, engineers, and designers about dispute avoidance and resolution

FSG again co-sponsored Development One, Inc.’s annual Change Order Prevention Seminar, which was held April 13, 2016 in Tustin. The purpose of the annual seminar is to share best practices, from the design team perspective, to reduce contractor-driven change orders on construction projects. One of five presenters, Andy Nelson discussed the creation, maintenance, and review of a project documentation system, as well as tips for leveraging that system toward the avoidance, minimization, and early resolution of disputes.

Questions? Contact Andrew Nelson at