Our Team

Steven Jay "Bernie" Bernheim


The Bernheim Law Firm
752 Millard Canyon Road
Altadena, California 91001
(310) 975-4728 Phone

Steven Jay “Bernie” Bernheim is the founder and principal attorney of The Bernheim Law Firm.  Mr. Bernheim is one of the country’s top attorneys practicing in the challenging field of wildfire and other catastrophe litigation, representing property owners on a contingency basis.  He is also recognized as a leading expert in the California insurance industry and the laws and regulations that apply to it.

Mr. Bernheim has obtained more than $400,000,000.00 for property owners in catastrophe litigation.  This includes 78 seven-figure, and 8 eight-figure, verdicts and settlements.  It must be emphasized that these were funds actually recovered for his clients, and not paper judgments or verdicts later reduced or overturned.

Mr. Bernheim is a 1983 cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where he was awarded the Harvard College Scholarship for Academic Achievement of Highest Distinction.  He is a 1989 graduate of the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received his Juris Doctorate.

Mr. Bernheim has been honored by the Public Justice Foundation, which selected him as one of seven finalists for National Trial Lawyer of the Year.  The Foundation commended Mr. Bernheim for “single-handed efforts that exposed corporate crime and resulted in a great victory for consumers” in California catastrophe litigation.

Mr. Bernheim has also been honored by the California State Bar’s magazine, California Lawyer.  Because of his “exceptional work” in disaster litigation, it named him one of California’s 20 “lawyers of the year” out of the more than 150,000 attorneys practicing in the state.

The president of the American Trial Lawyers Association also honored Mr. Bernheim, by naming him co-chair of the president’s national Insurance Oversight Committee. 

The Beverly Hills Bar Association admitted Mr. Bernheim to its Order of Distinguished Attorneys in recognition of his “outstanding dedication to the profession,” and he has been admitted to the Elite Lawyers of America, the Legends Society of leading lawyers, and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. 

In addition, Mr. Bernheim has been invited to testify before the California legislature regarding catastrophe insurance regulatory issues, and was selected to be a member of the Legislation Review Committee of the Consumer Attorneys of California, in the area of insurance law.

Mr. Bernheim has been interviewed and quoted on legal and insurance issues by:

  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • The Associated Press
  • United Press International
  • Reuters
  • The American Lawyer
  • Law.com
  • The Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • The Los Angeles Daily News
  • The San Francisco Recorder
  • Insure.com
  • Smart’s Insurance Bulletin
  • Mealey’s Litigation Report: Bad Faith
  • The San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Los Angeles Daily News
  • The Orange County Register
  • The Pasadena Star News
  • Daily Commerce
  • Metropolitan News
  • And other periodicals and news sources.

He has also been interviewed for many television and radio news broadcasts. 

In addition, Mr. Bernheim was selected by the producers of the Fox television series, “Power of Attorney,” to represent members of the public in on-camera trials.  

One of Mr. Bernheim’s most complex insurance disaster recovery cases was the subject of a radio and television investigative story which won one of the most prestigious awards in broadcast journalism.

He has lectured regarding complex property insurance litigation to such professional groups as the Consumer Attorneys of California and the American Conference Institute.

He has been invited to serve as a peer‑reviewer for Trial, the journal of the American Association for Justice, in the area of insurance litigation.  The Los Angeles Times has published his commentary on insurance regulation.

He is a member of both the California Land Title Association and the American Land Title Association, which are, respectively, the California and U.S. professional organizations for the title insurance industry.  

Mr. Bernheim began his career with the Los Angeles office of Thelen, Marrin, Johnson and Bridges, one of California’s oldest full service law firms, where he represented various major insurance companies in litigation and in regulatory matters.

Among Mr. Bernheim’s published appellate opinions is Adams v. Murakami (1991) 54 Cal.3d 105, in which the Supreme Court established the rule that a punitive damages award must be based on evidence of the defendant’s financial condition.  California is the first state to adopt this rule.

Mr. Bernheim obtained a published opinion against the insurer in State Farm v. Superior Court (Taylor) (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 625.  In that case, the Court found substantial evidence that the defendant company had engaged in a fraudulent conspiracy against Mr. Bernheim’s clients.

Mr. Bernheim’s most recent published opinion is Villanueva v. Fidelity National Title Co. (2021) 11 Cal.5th 104. In Villanueva, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of insurance rate payers in California to recover unlawful rates charged by insurance companies. Prior to this decision, California law was to the contrary.

Mr. Bernheim also engages in pro bono legal work for causes he believes in, such as animal welfare and civil rights.  As to his pro bono work, Mr. Bernheim has been commended by the Mayor and City Council of West Hollywood, and has been interviewed and quoted regarding this work by the Los Angeles Times, Court Television, and various local and national radio and television programs.

Mr. Bernheim is the founder of The Bernheim Foundation, a public charity whose mission is to ease animal and human suffering through the direct action of people who care.


Mr. Bernheims Bar Admissions: 

  • State Bar of California, since 1989
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, since 1989
  • United States District Court for the Central District of California, since 1990
  • United States Supreme Court, since 1997

 Mr. Bernheim's Professional Memberships:

  • Beverly Hills Bar Association - Order of Distinguished Attorneys
  • Elite Lawyers of America
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Legends Society   
  • Public Justice Foundation
  • American Association for Justice
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles
  • Consumer Attorneys of California
  • United Policyholders
  • California Land Title Association
  • American Land Title Association


Honors, Awards and Noteworthy Recognition:

  • Received California Lawyer of the Year (“C.L.A.Y.”) Award from California Lawyer (the journal of the State Bar)
  • Finalist for National Trial Lawyer of the Year – Trial Lawyers for Public Justice  
  • Trial Lawyer of the Year Nominee – Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles
  • Admitted to President’s Club – Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Admitted to Beverly Hills Bar Association Order of Distinguished Attorneys
  • Admitted to Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Named to list of California’s top  “rainmakers” by California Law Business
  • Named to Elite Lawyers of America
  • Admitted to Legends Society of leading attorneys
  • Appointed peer reviewer for Trial magazine
  • Appointed co-chair of America Trial Lawyers Ass’n National Insurance Oversight Committee
  • Invited speaker on insurance litigation – Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Invited speaker on insurance litigation – American Conference Institute
  • Testified before the California Legislature as insurance regulatory expert
  • Invited by Los Angeles Times to author opinion piece on insurance regulation
  • Commended for pro bono legal work by West Hollywood City Council 
  •  Achieved cum laude designation upon graduation from Harvard University
  • Awarded Harvard College Scholarship for Academic Achievement of Highest Distinction
  • Named by Rosa Parks to the National Wall of Tolerance
  • Received Golden Sneaker Award – Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation


Mr. Bernheims Published Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Victories:

  • Adams v. Murakami (1991) 54 Cal.3d 105
  • Hendy v. Losse
  • Huggins v. Longs Drugs
  • State Farm v. Superior Court (Taylor) (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 625
  • Doheny Park Terrace v. Truck Ins. Exchange (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 1076
  • 21st Century Insurance v. Superior Court (Schwartz) (2005) 127 Cal. App. 4th 1351
  • Villanueva v. Fidelity National Title Co. (2021) 11 Cal.5th 104


Mr. Bernheims Service to the Community: 

  • Habitat for Humanity – member of the Habitat Partners Council
  • St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Society – member of the Circle of Angels
  • Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles - Platinum Partner
  • AIDS Project L.A. – 11 year member
  • Animals Anonymous – member of the Board of Directors
  • Bernheim Foundation to Ease Animal and Human Suffering – Founder
  • A.S.P.C.A. - Founder’s Society member
  • 24th Annual Genesis Awards presented by the Humane Society of the U.S. – Silver Sponsor (via The Bernheim Foundation)
  • City of Hope – partner
  • National Foundation for Cancer Research – supporter
  • Activities for Retarded Children – volunteer