Donna Tobar

Partner | Irvine, CA

(949) 852-6700

Donna Tobar provides a full range of litigation and counseling services in the areas of construction, suretyship and government contracting. She has successfully represented clients in various legal settings, including litigation (state and federal), mediation, arbitration, appellate practice, and various informal settings (including counseling services during contract performance). 

Donna has prepared, advocated and successfully resolved a large variety of complex claims and legal issues. Representative claims and issues that she has handled for construction matters include, but are not limited to: total cost claims, productivity and delay claims, change order claims, differing site condition claims, claims for defective workmanship, contract compliance on live construction projects, pass through claims, termination, insurance coverage, labor audits and reviews, stop notice claims, mechanic’s lien claims, and False Claims Act claims. Donna has substantial expertise in successfully pursuing and resolving claims on public works projects, including underground construction and school projects.

Donna has substantial experience successfully handling all aspects of surety-specific matters from the time that an account first goes into “claims” through final resolution of all bond claims and indemnity issues. As such, Donna has had over 18 years of experience handling performance bond claims (with a heavy focus on pursuing affirmative claims against bond obligees), takeover efforts by sureties (including contract negotiation and project oversight), indemnity transactions and litigation, payment bond claims, bad faith claims, setting and adjusting reserves, and surety financing.

  • Successfully represented a surety in pursuing recovery on a construction project for a community college district. After almost three weeks of arbitration, a 92 page award was issued which granted our client almost $4 million and successfully defeated the owner’s almost $3 million counter-claim.
  • Drafted appellate papers for the prevailing party in The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation v. Perez (2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 37 wherein the court rejected the foreclosing lender’s argument that it was a third-party beneficiary under the subdivision bond and, therefore, had no right to assert claims against the bond.
  • Obtained multi-million dollar settlement for surety client in complex, multi-party dispute on public project involving extensive damages and defects.
  • Negotiated a dismissal with prejudice of our client at the pleading state in dispute regarding sufficiency of environmental investigation report.
  • American Bar Association
  • “Bid Protests in Government Contracting,” From The Group Up, Fall 2016
  • Chapter Author: “Types of Construction Claims,” California Construction Law Manual, 2011.
  • Author: “Foreign Construction Projects: Assessing The Need For Political Risk Insurance,” From The Ground Up, Summer 2003.
  • Author: “Bribery Abroad,” California Lawyer, February 2003.
  • Author: “The Need For A Uniform Void Ab Initio Standard For Violations Of The Automatic Stay,” Whittier Law Review, Fall 2002.
  • “Thinking of Expanding Your Architectural Operations Into California?  Here Is What You Need To Know About Licensing,” WTHF Newsletter, Spring 2020
  • “Thinking of Expanding Your Contractor Operations Into California?  Here Is What You Need To Know About Licensing,” WTHF Newsletter, Winter 2018

Areas of Practice

  • Construction
  • Surety
  • Government Contracts


  • University of California, Los Angeles, J.D., 2002
  • Moot Court Honors
  • Phi Delta Phi Legal Honor Society, President
  • University of California, Irvine, B.A., 1998, magna cum laude
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Order of Omega Honor Society

Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  • California Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Central, Northern and Southern Districts of California
  • Court of Federal Claims