In The News


Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Moot is pleased to announce that it has acquired Small & Schena LLP, and that attorneys William F. Small and John A. Schena will be joining the firm as partners effective January 2, 2019.  With a focus on business litigation, employment law, intellectual property and related practice areas, Small and Schena will add nearly two decades of combined litigation experience in state and federal courts throughout California to Schwartz Semerdjian’s extensive roster of expertise. 

“We couldn’t be more excited about Will and John joining our firm,” said Managing Partner Ross Schwartz.  “John actually started his career with our firm in 2009 as a law clerk. When he left to join Will in 2014, we continued to work with both of them and are thrilled that things have come full circle and they are joining Schwartz Semerdjian.  They are both exceptional attorneys and great people, and will make a welcome addition to our team.”

Schwartz Semerdjian will continue its extensive practice in civil trial and appellate practice in state and federal courts, with an emphasis in business and commercial litigation, employment litigation and labor counseling, construction litigation, personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, officers and directors liability, professional liability, insurance defense, intellectual property, including trademark and copyright, and unfair competition litigation.

William F. Small - Prior to joining Schwartz Semerdjian, William Small was a partner in his own law practice, Small & Schena LLP, and before that served as senior counsel at the San Diego office of Gordon & Rees.  His practice focuses on business and employment litigation as well as professional liability and defamation litigation.  William also advises clients on legal issues ranging from contracts to compliance with employment laws - with the goal of avoiding litigation.   

William is active in the San Diego legal community, serving as Chair of the San Diego County Bar Association's Civil Litigation Executive Committee in 2016 and 2017.  Some of his recent accolades include being named a San Diego County Top Attorney in Corporate Litigation in 2015 by the San Diego Daily Transcript, Best of the Bar in 2015 and 2016 by the San Diego Business Journaland a Rising Star in 2017 by Super Lawyers.

William obtained his Bachelors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law.  He and his family reside in the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego.

John A. Schena - John Schena founded Small & Schena LLP with William Small in 2014.  John is a litigator focusing on the resolution of business disputes, with an emphasis on fiduciary duty, contract, privacy law, commercial torts, trade secret, trademark, and copyright matters.  He has successfully prosecuted and defended actions to final judgment on behalf of both public and private entities, as well as individuals, throughout California.  He has extensive experience with bench and jury trials, as well as arbitration and administrative law proceedings.

John has dedicated pro bono hours to the formation and assistance of many local nonprofits, including sitting on the board of directors of CompassionIt and Bosh Bosh.  A frequent contributor to Trial Bar News, the monthly periodical of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, John has written articles regarding identification of misappropriated trade secrets in litigation, managing the costs of discovery, the scope of the attorney-client privilege, and effective summary judgment practice.  Some of his recent accolades include being named a Rising Star in 2016, 2017, and 2018 by Super Lawyers, being recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2019, and being named to the Best of the Bar 2015 and 2017 by the San Diego Business Journal.

John obtained his Bachelors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law.  He, his fiancé, and sonlive in the San Diego neighborhood of South Park.

About Schwartz Semerdjian

Schwartz Semerdjian specializes in business counseling and transactional services in corporate and entity formation, real estate, business sales and acquisitions, employment, landlord/tenant, commercial, licensor/licensee, and probate, trusts and estate planning.


Partner John Moot argues before the California Supreme Court. The case involves a civil anti-corruption suit he filed on behalf of a school district against contractors who obtained a lucrative contract to manage school construction bonds by wining and dining and giving elaborate gifts to board members. After the Supreme Court accepted the case for review and briefs were filed, Mr. Moot obtained a $7.5 million-dollar settlement for the school district. Even though the money has been paid and the settlement is final, the Supreme Court felt one of the legal issues in the case was so important it will still hear and decide if criminal grand jury testimony and the factual basis for criminal guilty pleas are admissible in a civil proceeding.


Honored with recognition from the leading survey of lawyers worldwide, Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Moot LLP has been named a top tier law firm in two practice areas for the ninth annual U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings.  Well-known for its work on large, complex matters where an entire business may be at risk, Schwartz Semerdjian was chosen as an exceptional firm in San Diego for tort and labor and employment litigation.


Schwartz Semerdjian is proud to announce that firm partner Sierra Spitzer has been elected as the 2019 Vice Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the San Diego County Bar Association. Congratulations, Sierra!


Partner Dick Semerdjian will present to members of the Associated Subcontractors Alliance a workshop on "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace."  Remember, California companies with 50 employees or more are required by law to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors, and all attendees tomorrow will receive a written proof of completion.  Regardless of a company's size, it is more important than ever for employers to educate personnel about work place conduct and sexual harassment.


Partner Sierra Spitzer was a guest attorney speaker at the SDHR Forum Meeting providing a presentation on the upswing in PAGA litigation. Click here for the presentation handout re California Labor Code's Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 ("PAGA").


Schwartz Semerdjian is proud to announce a recent victory in the appellate court for client Ace Parking Management, Inc. in Los Angeles.  Ace Parking was sued by a former model after she was injured walking under a parking gate arm.  Schwartz Semerdjian partners Dick Semerdjian and Sierra Spitzer worked diligently on the case, and hope the ruling discourages future frivolous law suits against long-time client Ace Parking.  The decision was featured in Law360, click here for the full article.  Congratulations to our team for their expert counsel!


Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2019 Edition) in the fields of Labor & Employment and Personal Injury. This is the 10th straight year that Dick has been selected for this honor. Congratulations, Dick!


Schwartz Semerdjian partner John Moot was presented with a City of Chula Vista proclamation from Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The proclamation, on the 20th anniversary of the Sleep Train Amphitheater, honors John for his vision because he was on the Chula Vista City Council when the project was approved in 1998. It was the first project of its kind in San Diego County. Congratulations, John!


Schwartz Semerdjian attorney Mark Bale was recently selected as the Athletic Committee Chair for the Foundation of La Jolla High School.  Mark serves on the board of directors of the Foundation of LJHS which was established to enhance the overall educational experience of LJHS students by raising, managing and disbursing funds to support academic, athletic and other needs of the school for which funding is not available. Congratulations, Mark!


Schwartz Semerdjian attorney Kristen Bush has been admitted into the TIPS Leadership Academy for 2018-2019. Kristen will be part of the 25-member class selected by the Leadership Academy Task Force of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (“TIPS”) of the American Bar Association. The Leadership Academy begins with the TIPS Fall Meeting in October 2018. Congratulations, Kristen!


Schwartz Semerdjian will host the 2018 Spring Planning Meeting of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the American Judicial System. Welcome to San Diego!  Partner Dick Semerdjian is Co-Chair of the State Courts subsection of the ABA Standing Committee on the American Judicial System.


Schwartz Semerdjian partner Dick Semerdjian will participate as an instructor at the 2018 Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section/American Board of Trial Advocates (TIPS/ABOTA) National Trial Academy at The National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, hosted by the American Bar Association.


Schwartz Semerdjian partner Sarah Evans will participate as a judge for the McLennon Honors Moot Court Competition hosted by the USD School of Law and the Appellate Moot Court Board. The McLennon Tournament provides USD law students the opportunity to hone their oral argument skills and master new areas of the law. This type of competition provides future lawyers with the practice and experience needed to develop effective oral advocacy skills.


Senator Ben Hueso honored Sarah Brite Evans as the 40th Senate District's Woman of the Year at a luncheon and Senate floor ceremony at the State Capitol today.  According to Senator Hueso, “Sarah is a true asset to our district. She moves seamlessly between her professional role as one of San Diego Business Journal's ‘Best of the Bar’, to her civic responsibilities, where she serves as Chair of the Board of Management for the Border View YMCA. Please join me in thanking Sarah for all that she has done, and continues to do, to strengthen our community.” Congratulations, Sarah!


Partners Ross Schwartz and Dick Semerdjian will be co-guest lecturers at the University of San Diego School of Law Negotiations Class on February 15.  Ross will be addressing the topic of business and transactional negotiations from the perspective of a practicing business attorney while Dick will be focusing on the topic of the techniques required to effectively and ethically negotiate the settlement of lawsuits from the perspective of a trial attorney. 


Honored with recognition from the leading survey of lawyers worldwide, Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Moot LLP has been named a top tier law firm in two practice areas for the eighth annual U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings.  Well-known for its work on large, complex matters where an entire business may be at risk, Schwartz Semerdjian was chosen as an exceptional firm in San Diego for tort and labor and employment litigation.

A firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top four percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S., to be eligible for a ranking.  Founding Partner Dick Semerdjian was named in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.


On February 7, 2018, the Associated Subcontractors Alliance will host their Annual Construction Law Update, an information packed review of new and noteworthy employment and labor laws and regulations that affect those in the construction industry. Schwartz Semerdjian attorneys Kevin Cauley, Sierra Spitzer and Kristen Bush will present on various topics, including prevailing wage, AB 1701, worksite immigration, enforcement and protections, paid family leave benefits, public work procurement methods, public and private work contracts, attorney's fee recovery, licensing, indemnification, as well as recent court decisions including the prevailing party's entitlement to attorney's fees, promissory estoppel in public and private contracts, indemnification, and public contract bidding issues. Click here for the event flyer. Registration can be completed online at the ASA website.


Schwartz Semerdjian partner and former Chula Vista Councilman, John Moot, was recently quoted on Chula Vista’s bid to be a potential site for Amazon’s new corporate headquarters. Even if Chula Vista is not selected, as Mr. Moot points, the site is an incredible certainty for a high tech hub in the San Diego region. Click here to view the Voice of San Diego article.