John is a litigator focusing on the resolution of business disputes, with an emphasis on fiduciary duty, contract, privacy law, commercial torts, trade secret, trademark, and copyright matters. John has successfully prosecuted and defended actions to final judgment on behalf of both public and private entities, as well as individuals, throughout California. While the goal is often to achieve resolution prior to litigation, John has extensive experience in state and federal court and in alternative dispute resolution.
A frequent contributor to Trial Bar News, the monthly periodical of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, John has written articles regarding identification of misappropriated trade secrets in litigation, managing the costs of discovery, the scope of the attorney-client privilege, and effective summary judgment practice.
John founded Small & Schena LLP with Will Small after working for six years with a prominent boutique litigation law firm in Southern California. Previously, John worked in house for a technology transfer office in San Diego. The drive to form Small & Schena LLP stemmed from the desire to remain flexible on behalf of his clients without compromising the quality of the services provided.
John is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of San Diego School of Law, where he served as the managing editor of the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law. He lives in the San Diego neighborhood of South Park, where he enjoys the local beer and avidly supports the Padres from near and the Tar Heels from afar.
- Prevailed at trial defending corporate officers and directors accused by shareholders of breaching fiduciary duties after a pre-litigation demand of $8.1 million.
- Negotiated a policy-limits settlement on eve of arbitration on behalf of limited partners in derivative action against general partner for misappropriation of partnership funds.
- Prevailed on motion for summary judgment in a trade secret misappropriation case with over $2 million in alleged damages against a departing officer of a communication-technology company.
- Awarded judgment in trademark infringement lawsuit successfully arguing likelihood of confusion on behalf of a health-technology client.
- Achieved dismissal of a multi-million dollar real estate fraud claim at trial call.
- As a result of assertive representation, negotiated favorable settlements on behalf of a breadth of clients, including those in manufacturing, sporting goods, green technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and services industries.
- San Diego Election Finance Regulation After Thalheimer, San Diego Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society (2012)
- Conflicts of Interest, San Diego Legal Secretaries Association (2012)
- New Labor and Employment Laws for 2012, American Subcontractors Association (2012)
- Identifying Jurisdiction in the Internet Age, California State Bar Association, Public Law Section (2011)
- Emails and Attorney-Client Privilege, San Diego Legal Secretaries Association (2011)
- Annually engaged by corporate clients to speak on intellectual property, employment, and labor issues.
Office: (619) 430-4793
Direct Dial: (619) 430-4795
Education and Training
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A., 2005; Biology, Political Science)
University of San Diego School of Law (J.D., 2009)
Graduate of the National Trial Academy, sponsored by the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice section of the American Bar Association and the American Board of Trial Advocates ("ABOTA")
awards & honors
San Diego Rising Stars 2016-2017 , Super Lawyers
Best of the Bar 2015 & 2017, San Diego Business Journal
Admissions & Memberships
State Bar of California
State Bar of North Carolina
U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Central, and Northern Districts of California
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
San Diego County Bar Association
American Inns of Court - Hon. William B. Enright Inn, 2016-Present
American Bar Association, Vice Chair of ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Business Litigation General Committee for 2012-2013
University of North Carolina General Alumni Association