Before Trial and In The Courtroom

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Philip Downs

Fax: (415) 278-1401

Philip Downs is Of Counsel at Davis Wang. Mr. Downs is a trial lawyer and former United States Marine Corps officer and combat veteran of Iraq. He represents clients in a variety of high-stakes civil litigation cases with an emphasis on the defense of discrimination claims brought under federal and state employment and fair housing statutes as well as defending and advising clients in lawsuits and investigations involving allegations of workplace violence.

In addition to litigation, Mr. Downs incorporates the skills he acquired during his military experience into his advice and counseling practice. Mr. Downs is a frequent lecturer and training instructor on workplace violence prevention and de-escalation techniques. He advises public and private companies as well as law enforcement agencies on the development of comprehensive approaches to prevent workplace violence, including emergency and safety plans, procedures, strategies, and training for recognizing conflict situations and preventing and de-escalating violent encounters.

Prior to joining Davis Wang, Mr. Downs defended law enforcement officers and municipalities against federal constitutional and state law civil rights actions, many of which stemmed from officer-involved shootings. Some of Mr. Downs’ recent litigation successes include:

  • Complete defense verdict in favor of two police officers and their employing agency following a three-day jury trial in the United States District Court (Northern District of California) on a single plaintiff case involving allegations of interference with free-speech rights and excessive force.
  • Obtaining complete summary judgment against plaintiff and in favor of the defendant Law Enforcement Officer in case alleging unlawful arrest, unlawful search and excessive force.
  • In a two-plaintiff case, obtaining complete summary judgment in favor of three Bay Area police officers against nine distinct causes of action brought by one of the plaintiffs, and partial summary judgment as to the second plaintiff’s claims; resulting in the second plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal of her case, with prejudice.

Before becoming an attorney Mr. Downs served four years in the United States Marine Corps. During his active military service, Mr. Downs lead Marines through some of the most intense fighting of the war in the city of Ramadi. He volunteered to deploy again to live with Iraqi police officers as an embedded advisor to help establish peace and stability in that country. During this period, Mr. Downs worked collaboratively with a broad array of stakeholders – often across sectarian divisions – to establish rapport and trust among political, judicial, religious and community leaders, the public, coalition forces and his partner officers. Mr. Downs brings these unique, formative experiences to bear in his legal practice.

Mr. Downs graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in History and received his law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. When he is not defending cases or conducting workplace trainings, Mr. Downs enjoys exercise and the outdoors. He also studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu and American boxing.


J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law, 2014

B.A., University of California, Davis, 2003

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