Justs Karlsons specializes in the trial, coordination and global management of high-stakes, complex litigation on behalf of major multinational companies. He is also an active trial attorney who has successfully first chaired to verdict more than 40 jury trials.

Justs’ hallmark is the pursuit of a thorough and aggressive defense strategy. For more than 40 years he has successfully defended numerous European automobile manufacturers in product liability, consumer class action and asbestos litigation in the US. As national coordinating counsel for one such German automobile manufacturer, his strategy and reputation for no-holds barred litigation has reduced the new filing of cases by more than 70%. Moreover, the vast majority of cases that get filed are then routinely dismissed by voluntary dismissal or summary disposition by the court without payment or trial. When cases are tried, they are won. Where recovery of defense costs is allowed by law, many such victories are further crowned by a substantial award of costs against the losing plaintiff.

Justs has also defended actions involving commercial and other disputes. His international background, knowledge of German and other languages and understanding of foreign cultures and business practices, combined with hands-on litigation acumen, uniquely qualifies him to advise and defend multinational companies.

Justs is admitted to the practice of law in Latvia and has acted as counsel for the government of Latvia and participated in negotiation and resolution of disputes and contracts involving telephone company privatization, licensing rights, fishing fleet privatization, and establishment of national oil rights in the Baltic Sea. He is an active member of the Latvian business community. He has extensive experience with legal and practical issues involving Latvian real estate transactions, land privatization, and land development, as well as applications for European Union development funding for projects in Latvia.

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Litigation Coordination

  • Providing litigation coordination for multinational companies sued throughout the world, including cross-border legal issues involving challenges of jurisdiction, service of process, discovery and defense at trial and on appeal.
  • Product liability, consumer class actions, asbestos, ATCA, commercial and intellectual property claims.
  • Providing in-house training to foreign corporations on procedures for reducing litigation risk and exposure, as well as best practices for claims handling, document retention, e-discovery management and other litigation related issues.

Product Liability Defense

  • Defending foreign automobile manufacturers at trials throughout the US involving claims of defective design and manufacture. Work involved preparing and presenting foreign witnesses in court proceedings and developing innovative defenses to emerging product liability issues involving advanced active and passive safety systems.
  • Defending a broad spectrum of other products, including material handling, construction, and recreational equipment, boats and airplanes. This includes defense of asbestos and other toxic substance claims, particularly involving friction products in automobiles.

Commercial and Complex Litigation

  • Representing clients in a broad spectrum of commercial and other complex disputes including human rights, regulatory and other asserted violations as well as matters related to intellectual property rights and claims.
  • Counseling non-US companies on foreign law issues relating to contracts, regulatory compliance and cross-border dispute resolution.


  • Stanford University, J.D.
  • University of Munich
  • Yale University, B.A., cum laude


  • California

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Washington State Bar Association
  • Latvian Advocates College
  • American Bar Association (Litigation Section, Corporate Counsel Subcommittee, Products Liability Subcommittee)
  • Products Liability Advisory Council Defense Research Institute
  • Union Internationale Des Avocats
  • Latvian Lawyer’s Society


  • English
  • German
  • Latvian
  • Russian
  • Martindale Hubbell Peer Review – rated AV Preeminent
  • Listed, International Who’s Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers
  • Listed as a Northern California Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers (2004–2018)
  • Listed, Who's Who Legal, The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers
  • Awarded US Baltic Foundation, American Baltic Corporate Achievement Award, presented by US Ambassador to Latvia Catherine Todd Bailey, Washington DC (March 4, 2006)
  • United States Navy, Judge Avocate General's Corp., 1969–1972; tried over 50 criminal cases as Defense Counsel

  • Panelist, "Champions of the Courtroom: The Art of Trying Cases," Annual Trial Symposium for Litigation Section of California State Bar, Napa, California, April 16, 2006.
  • Presenter, "Application of U.S. Discovery Rules to Non-U.S. Operations and People," Product Liability Advisory Council, Fall Conference on Globalization of Product Litigation, San Francisco, California, October 27, 2005.
  • Lecturer, "The Role of Civil Law Remedies in Ensuring Consumer Product Safety," University of Latvia Faculty of Law, Riga, Latvia, 1991.
  • Presenter, "Hot Issues on the Product Liability Front," ABA Product Liability Subcommittee Meeting, 1990.
  • Presenter, "Product Liability Considerations When Doing Business in the United States," Dutch Manufacturers Association, The Hague, 1989.
  • Presenter, "Special Considerations Bearing on the Depositions of a Plaintiff in Product Liability and Malpractice Litigation," Practicing Law Institute Program on Medical Malpractice Defense, 1984.
  • Presenter, "Substantive and Technical Defenses in Automobile Product Liability Litigation," Practicing Law Institute, 1983.
  • Presenter, "Necessary Discovery in Preparation Before Depositions in Product Liability Actions," Practicing Law Institute Seminar on Product Liability Litigation, 1983.
  • Presenter, "Strategy When Deposing the Non-Party Expert Witness," Practicing Law Institute Seminar on Product Liability Litigation, 1983.
  • Co-author, "Coordination Programs and Strategies: The Essential Basis for Successful Product Liability Defense", 2008.
  • Author, Amicus curiae brief re "California Jurisdiction in cases involving foreign plaintiffs in Holmes v. Syntex Laboratories, Inc.," sponsored by the Motor Vehicle Manufacturer Association, 1984.

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