Matthew P. Vafidis is a partner specializing in commercial litigation, with an emphasis on shipping and environmental law. Mr. Vafidis began his legal career as a barrister in London at the Bar of England and Wales, to which he was called in July 1979. Since 1981, he has practiced in San Francisco, first as an associate and partner at a major California law firm, and thereafter as a partner at Holland & Knight and one of its predecessors, an internationally-renowned shipping and aviation firm. Focusing on trial court and arbitration law, Mr. Vafidis has appeared in more than 40 trials, appeals and arbitrations, and has acted as mediator or appeared as counsel in approximately 100 mediations. He leads Holland & Knight's West Coast Litigation Practice Group, is consistently listed among the leading lawyers in California and the United States, and is a regular speaker and published writer on legal matters.
Mr. Vafidis gained advocacy experience as a criminal defense barrister before taking up practice in San Francisco, initially skilled in admiralty law and federal court, and then developing into a commercial and environmental litigator. As a maritime lawyer, Mr. Vafidis specializes in disputes involving the carriage of goods by sea, collision, salvage and pollution, and has appeared for foreign and domestic clients in arbitrations, administrative hearings, and federal and state court litigation and appeals. He has developed skills and experience in marine casualties, particularly oil spill response and investigation, and has been involved as counsel in most of the substantial incidents on the West Coast over the past 25 years.
With his background in marine pollution cases, and natural resource damage assessments, Mr. Vafidis has expanded his practice to land-based environmental matters, including representing foreign and U.S. clients in groundwater contamination litigation, environmental cleanup and air pollution cases. His trial knowledge enabled Mr. Vafidis to develop a broad commercial litigation practice, in federal and state court and domestic and international arbitrations, representing California, U.S. and foreign businesses in contract, trade, real estate, insurance, intellectual property and antitrust disputes. He is skilled on federal practice, particularly subject matter and personal jurisdiction, and maritime attachment and arrest, and has appeared in state courts throughout California. In addition, Mr. Vafidis advises certain longstanding clients, particularly in the transportation industry, regarding risk management and general business issues.
Mr. Vafidis is committed to and active in pro bono representation, serves on firm and local bar association pro bono committees, and was active on the board of a nonprofit community arts organization in the Bay Area for several years. He has been a member of the U.S. District Court ADR panel for more than 20 years, and regularly acts as a mediator, both privately- and court-appointed. Mr. Vafidis frequently lectures, within the firm and at professional conferences in the U.S. and abroad, on topics ranging from substantive law and procedure to law practice management and advocacy, and he regularly judges moot court competitions at a local law school.