Photo of Neil A.F. Popović

Neil A.F. Popović

San Francisco
F: +1.415.403.6225


  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1987, Note and Comment Editor, California Law Review
  • M.A., Tufts University, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1992, Ford Foundation Fellow in Public International Law
  • Academy of European Law, Summer Session 1995
  • A.B., University of California, Berkeley, 1983
  • Mr. Popovic served as a law clerk to the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and Santa Ana.
  • Mr. Popovic was a judicial extern for Justice Joseph R. Grodin of the Supreme Court of California.
  • California
  • United States Supreme Court
Thought Leadership


Neil Popović is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office and is Team Leader of the International Litigation and Arbitration team.

Areas of Practice

International Disputes. Neil’s international practice includes multijurisdictional litigation, international commercial arbitration and investment arbitration. His arbitration experience includes AAA, CIETAC, ICC, ICDR, ICSID, JAMS, LCIA, and UNCITRAL arbitration rules, among others. Neil also practices international environmental law, including counseling and representing clients in international negotiations. Neil also serves as a Project Complaint Mechanism Expert for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Domestic Litigation. Neil’s litigation experience includes a wide range of commercial disputes, including consumer class actions, as well as white collar criminal matters (including internal investigations). Neil has developed expertise in California's Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professionals Code section 17200, as well as legal issues related to environmental marketing and federal preemption.

Pro Bono. Neil serves on the firmwide Pro Bono Committee and coordinates pro bono activities in the San Francisco office.

Academic. Neil teaches courses in International Litigation and Arbitration, International Environmental Law, and Law and Development at the University of California, Berkeley.

Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, he was a shareholder at Heller Ehrman in San Francisco; before that, he was an attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now called Earthjustice) International Program in San Francisco; and prior to that, he practiced with a San Francisco civil and criminal litigation boutique.


  • The Legal 500, Construction, 2018
  • Northern California Super Lawyer, San Francisco Magazine, 2012-2018
  • Highest Possible Rating in Both legal Ability & Ethical Standards, Martindale-Hubbell, 2016-2018
  • Recipient of the Robert G. Sproul, Jr. Award, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 2015
  • Leading Environmental Practices Lawyer, The Recorder, 2012
  • Top 10 Pro Bono Efforts of 2012



Representing California publisher of art books in defense of action seeking recognition of French judgment under California's Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act.

Represented Korean construction company in ICSID arbitration under Korea-Oman BIT.

Represented international medical products company in threatened international arbitration regarding distribution rights. Successfully prevented other party from initiating arbitration.

Advised multinational biotechnology company regarding corporate social responsibility issues, including human rights, environmental and labor relations.

Represented Indonesian chemical company in international arbitration before London Court of International Arbitration arising out of sale of chemical manufacturing facilities.

Represented Taiwanese business owner in series of disputes arising out of sale of textile-related businesses. Includes first-chair experience in international arbitration before China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).

Represented Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) in action to collect defaulted loan obligation under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, creating new Ninth Circuit law on scope of "commercial activity" exception to foreign sovereign immunity. Af-Cap, Inc. v. Chevron Overseas (Congo) Ltd., 475 F.3d 1080 (9th Cir. 2007).

Represented Republic of Argentina in defending against attempt to seize Argentine presidential airplane ("Tango 01") to collect debt arising out of Argentine financial crisis. Case dismissed under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Colella v. Republic of Argentina, 2007 WL 154204 (N.D. Cal., May 29, 2007).

Represented Republic of Argentina in litigation over attempts to execute judgments obtained by creditors in connection with distressed debt.

Co-authored amicus brief in United States Supreme Court on behalf of Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, and international and foreign bar associations in Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), and Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), discussing relevance of international human rights and foreign law in 8th Amendment challenge to life without parole sentences for non-homicide juvenile offenders.

Co-authored amicus brief in United States Supreme Court on behalf of law professors in Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., No. 16-220 (decided June 14, 2018), regarding appropriate degree of deference U.S. courts should give to foreign government’s interpretation of its own law. Court adopted “respective consideration” standard proposed in our brief.

Advised foreign government as special counsel in negotiations for free trade agreements with United States and third country.

Represented foreign employee of overseas chip manufacturer in criminal antitrust investigation involving DRAM computer chips.

Represented Russian freight forwarding company Concern Sojuzvneshtrans in litigation involving alleged breach of guaranty on lease of shipping containers.


Represented Seagate in class actions challenging disclosures about computer hard drive storage capacity, including arguing leading case regarding class action settlements, Cho v. Seagate Technology Holdings, Inc., 177 Cal. App. 4th 734 (2009).

Obtained complete dismissal with prejudice in putative class action alleging "greenwashing" based on Fiji Water's use of green drop, "" and "every drop is green" on labels of Fiji Water bottles, including successfully arguing appeal. Hill v. Roll International Corp., 195 Cal. App. 4th 1295 (2011).

Obtained summary judgment (affirmed on appeal) for hospital group in putative class action alleging unfair practices in connection with rates charged to uninsured patients.

Defeated class certification, leading to dismissal of putative class action against community hospital challenging reasonableness of prices charged to uninsured patients for emergency care.

Represented Palm Inc., in consumer class actions involving Palm products and services, including data security issues and alleged product defects.

Represented McDonald’s in highly publicized, multiple class action “french fries” litigation in California, Washington, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois, involving alleged non-disclosure that fries contain beef flavoring.

Represented flash memory and computer hard drive manufacturers in consumer class actions alleging inadequate disclosure of memory storage capacity.

Represented green dental products company in connection with dispute over distribution and marketing of products.

Represented energy drink company in putative class action over marketing of products as "natural".

Represented organic produce distribution business in business ownership dispute.

Successfully defended pharmaceutical manufacturer in administrative disciplinary proceedings to suspend license.

Represented major insurance brokerage firm in class action litigation challenging its disclosure of commissions and fees.

Thought Leadership


  • Sometimes the System Works, Daily Journal (January 25, 2011)
  • "U.S. Courts Order Discovery for Use Overseas in Chevron-Ecuador Disputes," reprinted in Law360 as In Context: The Chevron-Ecuador Litigation (with Rachel Tarko Hudson) (December 17, 2010)
  • "Ninth Circuit Makes CAFA Jurisdiction Stick," Class Action Defense Strategy Blog (April 23, 2010)
  • Don't Cry (Too Much) For Us, Transcript - UC Berkeley School of Law (Spring/Summer 2009)
  • "Foreign Matters: How to obtain recognition of foreign-court judgments," The Recorder (May 1, 2009)
  • "How a U.S. Climate Change Bill Could Lead to Trouble at the WTO," Climate Change and Clean Technology Blog (March 26, 2009)
  • "Do you recognize this?" Domestication of Foreign-Country Money Judgments in California, Berkeley Journal of International Law Publicist (2009)
  • Recovery Tactics Outlined for Foreign Takeover Losses, Oil and Gas Journal (with Alex Lathrop) (June 25, 2007)
  • BIT Implications of Recent Government Activities in Bolivia and Venezuela, Heller Ehrman Bulletin (Summer 2000)
  • Some Thoughts on KOREA SUPPLY—Monetary Remedies Under Section 17200, Heller Ehrman Bulletin (April 15, 2003)
  • Some Thoughts on Kraus and Cortez, Heller Ehrman Bulletin (Summer 2000)
  • Women and the Environment, in Kelly Askin & Dorean Koenig, eds., Women and International Human Rights Law (Transnational Publishers 1999) 
  • Environmental Injustice on United States Bases in Panama: International Law and the Right to Land Free from Contamination and Explosives, 38 Virginia Journal of International Law 401 (1998) (with J. Martin Wagner) 
  • The Myth of Objectivity, in Human Rights, Environmental Law, and the Earth Charter (Boston Research Center for the 21st Century 1998)
  • CCRI’s Hidden Conflict: Prop. 209 Would Violate Human Rights Treaties Recently Ratified by the U.S. Senate, The Recorder (October 9, 1996) 
  • Environmental Racism in the United States and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 14 Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 277 (1996) 
  • In Pursuit of Environmental Human Rights: Commentary on the Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, 27 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 487 (1996) 
  • Pursuing Environmental Justice With International Human Rights and State Constitutions, 15 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 338 (1996) 
  • U.N. Special Rapporteur on Toxic Dumping, 8:1 International Toxics Investigator 9 (1996) 
  • Humanitarian Law, Protection of the Environment and Human Rights, 8 Georgetown International Environmental Law Review 67 (1995) 
  • The Game of the Name, Ms. Magazine (November-December 1994) 
  • Lawmaking in the United Nations: The UN Study on Human Rights and Environment, 3 Review of European Community and International Environmental Law 197 (1994) (with Adriana Fabra Aguilar) 
  • Sex, Violence & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The First Amendment at the Close of the Millennium, St. Hieronymus Press (1994) (with David Lance Goines)
  • Using Environmental Law for Effective Environmental Management—Hungary, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund/Environmental Management and Law Association (1994) (editor) 
  • The Right to Participate in Decisions that Affect the Environment, 10 Pace Environmental Law Review 683 (1993) 
  • Comment, A Human Rights Approach to the Labor Rights of Undocumented Workers, 74 California Law Review 1715 (1986) (published under former name Neil A. Friedman)

Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, "International Commercial Arbitration Panel," International Arbitration Association at Berkeley Law, Berkeley, CA, April 18, 2017
  • Presenter, "Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls in Pro Bono Representation," Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Barristers Club, San Francisco, CA, January 26, 2017
  • Presenter, "The Unreasonable Consumer, or When Can a Court Determine as a Matter of Law that a Food Label is Not Misleading?" May 11, 2016
  • Moderator, McGeorge School of Law Investment Treaty Dispute Settlement Symposium "What and Who Really Decide Who Decides and How It's Decided?," February 19, 2016
  • Presenter, "ICSID Arbitration," November 20, 2015
  • Presenter, "Accountability and Sustainability: Views from Practice on Regional and Global Environmental and Social Performance Standards," November 3, 2015
  • "How Can International Environmental Law Reduce Disaster Risk?" Stanford Law School, May 21, 2015
  • "The Role of International Courts?" Berkeley Law, April 6, 2015
  • "Litigating the Argentine Debt Crisis," Santa Clara Law School, February 26, 2015
  • Effective Advocacy in International Arbitration, "Initiation of Arbitration, Emergency Relief and Interim Measures," UC Berkeley School of Law, February 20, 2015
  • ACI’s Summit on Food & Beverage Marketing and Advertising, "State vs. Federal Rights as to Food Claims – The State of Preemption in Food Marketing and Advertising Compliance," July 30, 2014
  • "International Arbitration and Domestic Priorities: How Do They Coexist?" UC Berkeley School of Law, June 6, 2014
  • Current Trends in International Arbitration, "International Arbitration in California: California-Specific Issues and Travels," San Francisco, September 6, 2013
  • New Dimensions in International Dispute Resolution, "Discovery in International Arbitration Proceedings," Milan, Italy, December 13, 2012
  • "Dispute Resolution with Non-US Companies: Is International Arbitration the Answer?" SMRH Del Mar, November 15, 2012
  • University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law Symposium, "Recognition in a Corrupt World," November 2, 2012
  • "Boalt at the Vanguard: Evolving Legal Education," September 22, 2012
  • Riesenfeld Symposium at Berkeley Law, "Lessons from Latin America: Case Studies in Enforcement of Foreign Judgments," March 13, 2012
  • A3: A Conference on Climate Justice at UC Irvine Law School, "Climate Change Litigation: One Pathway to Past & Future Relief for Climate Change Victims," April 1, 2011
  • ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, 9th Annual Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Institute, "Negotiating in the Caucus Stage of Mediation," Nov. 4, 2011
  • The Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, "Green Pitch or Green Wash -- What's Legal in Green Advertising?" Oct. 22, 2011



  • Advisor to the Executive Committee, International Law Section, State Bar of California
  • American Health Lawyers Association
  • American Society of International Law
  • Board of Directors, EarthRights International (1999-2013)
  • Board of Directors, Center for Youth Development Through Law
  • Advisory Board, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment
  • Board of Directors, Bar Association of San Francisco’s Justice & Diversity Center, successor to the Volunteer Legal Services Program
  • International Law Association (American Branch)
  • Northern California International Arbitration Club