Brett D. Watson

Chair, Retail Banking Practice

Santa Monica

(213) 892-7938

(310) 394-4700

Recent Publication:

How Banks Should Respond To Calif. AG's Overdraft Warning [Law360]

Brett Watson and Madeline Suchard contributed an Expert Analysis to Law360, discussing California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s warning to California banks and credit unions that surprise overdraft fees and returned deposit item fees may violate state and federal unfair competition and consumer protection laws.

For more than two decades, top banks, credit card issuers, and financial institutions across the United States have called upon Brett to litigate issues relating to the full spectrum of their retail financial products.

Clients appreciate Brett’s vast experience in both the legal and business side of their operations and his tactical and holistic approach to litigation. They also value his deep understanding of the typical tactics the plaintiff’s bar uses in prosecuting retail financial product matters. This understanding allows him to anticipate, often before filing a responsive pleading, how plaintiffs will approach litigation and what type of settlement demands they will make. This has earned him a reputation among the plaintiff’s bar that is beneficial to his clients. For example, based on a result he got for one client, when that same plaintiff sued another client and saw he was counsel, they immediately dismissed the case.

Brett has been representing some clients for more than 16 years, and some have called him a “walking encyclopedia of banking statutes,” while others have noted his “uncanny ability to sniff out when a plaintiff is complicit.” He approaches each matter with intellectual curiosity and tenacity. He takes seriously the quest for truth, and derives great personal satisfaction from winning (as defined by the client) – whether that means at trial, on a dispositive motion, or negotiating a favorable settlement.

Brett litigates cases involving the full range of retail financial products, including credit card disputes, prepaid and debit card disputes, checking-related disputes such as embezzlement and/or forged or unauthorized endorsements, Commercial Code Article 3 and Article 4 matters, merchant disputes, privacy and/or identity theft disputes, bankruptcy-related litigation including preference and avoidance actions, wrongful foreclosure, § 17200 matters, and complex business disputes.

Brett also has experience in representing both direct and indirect lenders in automobile financing disputes, claims for wrongful vehicle repossession, and dealership derivative lawsuits including FTC holder rule disputes. 

He also frequently defends claims against businesses, creditors, servicers, and collection agencies alleging violations of federal and state consumer protection statutes, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act (ASFA), California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA), Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

Brett also has an active employment law practice, advising and defending employers regarding both statutory and common law harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other employment-related claims. Employers in California face unique and difficult employment challenges, and Brett’s experience in this area allows him to advise on the hiring and firing of employees, wage and hour compliance, and insurance coverage issues.

Brett earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University in San Bernardino. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law, where he was a member of the Pepperdine Law Review

Juxtaposed against the seriousness and intensity of his legal work, Brett is an aficionado of stand-up comedy – one of things he loves most is going to comedy clubs to see not only the greats, but also to witness the new talent breaking into the business.


Brett Watson Appointed to Inland Counties Legal Services Board of Directors

April 03, 2024

Brett Watson, chair of the firm’s Retail Banking Practice, has been appointed to the Inland Counties Legal Services (ICLS) Board of Directors.

Banks Gear Up for Battle Over Capital Rules, Swipe Fees in 2024

January 05, 2024

Brett Watson was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article discussing the 2024 banking regulatory agenda, which will likely face an uphill climb.

Thomas Casparian and Brett Watson Named ICLS Pro Bono Volunteers of the Year

August 29, 2023

Thomas Casparian and Brett Watson, members of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Department, have been named Inland Counties Legal Services (ICLS) Pro Bono Volunteers of the Year.

Cozen O’Connor Continues its West Coast Expansion, Adding Three Veteran Southern California Litigators to its Los Angeles Office

March 04, 2020

Thomas Lombardi, Devin Donohue and Brett Watson — from one of southern California’s leading litigation boutiques Lombardi & Donohue — have joined the firm as members.


How Banks Should Respond To Calif. AG's Overdraft Warning [Law360]

April 11, 2024

Brett Watson and Madeline Suchard contributed an Expert Analysis to Law360, discussing California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s warning to California banks and credit unions that surprise overdraft fees and returned deposit item fees may violate state and federal unfair competition and consumer protection laws.

Ninth Circuit Confirms: Text Messages NOT “Prerecorded Voice Messages” Under TCPA [Alert]

August 11, 2023

The ruling is a substantial win for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) defendants after plaintiff argued text messages qualify as “an artificial or prerecorded voice.”

Talk to the Machine! AKA Revoking TCPA Consent by “Talking” to a Recording [Alert]

May 10, 2023

Can a TCPA plaintiff revoke consent to be contacted by “talking” to a pre-recorded message? Probably not.

CA Court of Appeal Calls Into Question Evidentiary Value of E-Signatures [Alert]

January 24, 2023

The California Court of Appeal recently issued a troubling decision regarding the evidentiary value of electronic signatures.

Callers Beware: Court Finds Avatar Technology Is Subject To TCPA Regulation [Alert]

December 29, 2022

Brett Watson discusses recent district court decisions discussing Avatar technology as pre-recorded messages under TCPA.

Neither Confusion Nor Expense of Counsel Enough for Article III Standing [Alert]

October 06, 2022

In Yelardy v. Miller & Milone, the plaintiff asserted an FDCPA claim against a law firm in connection with a single letter received from the firm.

Federal Court Standing Decision May Spark Trend In Consumer Protection Action Filings In State Court [Alert]

September 29, 2022

The application of Spokeo principles is more commonplace across consumer protection actions, sparking a trend of plaintiffs pursuing more state court actions.

Wells Fargo Owed No Duty To Law Firm Customer To Discover Fake Check After Customer Sent Funds To Scammer Client [Alert]

July 21, 2022

U.S. District Court grants summary judgment in favor of Wells Fargo; it did not owe its customer any contractual duty to discover a fake/forged check.

When Might a Plaintiff Argue Against Their Own Article III Standing? [Alert]

June 15, 2022

The Eastern District of NY weighed in on what should happen when a defendant attempts to remove a consumer protection matter to federal court.

FDCPA Rulings Show Spokeo's Influence, 5 Years Later

May 27, 2021

Brett Watson and Karl Riley wrote an Expert Analysis for Law360, discussing how the U.S. Supreme Court's 2016 decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins single-handedly raised the bar for a plaintiff alleging a violation of a consumer protection statute, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

What Calif.'s New Consumer Debt Law Means For Collectors

November 23, 2020

Brett Watson contributed an article to Law360 discussing the enactment of the Debt Collection Licensing Act and the impact this will have on collectors.

California Brings Licensing and Oversight to Consumer Debt Collectors [Alert]

November 02, 2020

Brett D. Watson discusses the DCLA, one of several new consumer protection bills recently enacted in California, including the state’s “mini-CFPB,” otherwise known as the California Consumer Financial Protection Law.

Preparing For Enhanced Enforcement Under Calif. 'Mini-CFPB' [Law360]

September 28, 2020

Brett Watson and Michael Kraft published an article to Law360 highlighting certain key provisions of the CCFPL and discussing what the CCFPL might mean for practitioners, the pros and cons of the new legislation, the challenges presented by the CCFPL, and how financial services providers should prepare themselves for anticipated aggressive enforcement procedures.

California Court of Appeal Holds Banks Owe Depositors No Duty to Monitor Other Depositor’s Accounts [Alert]

June 30, 2020

Brett D. Watson discusses the California Court of Appeal's decision in Kurtz-Ahlers v. Bank of America.

Expect an Uptick in Employee Embezzlement Following COVID-19 Lockdowns [Alerts]

June 25, 2020

Brett D. Watson discusses why small businesses could experience an uptick in embezzlement post-COVID-19, how to prevent it, and how banks can insulate themselves from liability.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Arbitration and Mediation

December 12, 2023 - Webinar


  • Pepperdine University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1999
  • University of California, San Bernardino, B.A., 1995

Awards & Honors

Volunteer of the Year (2023), Inland County Legal Services

Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2010-2012

  • California

American Bar Association, Member

State Bar Association of California, Member

Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member

Inland Counties Legal Services, Board of Directors