Yosef Peretz, dressed in a dark suit too large for his small frame, lowered himself into the passenger seat of a sleek gray Tesla Roadster with thick orange racing stripes. His client, Tesla Motors co-founder Martin Eberhard, pulled the electric, envy-of-all-Silicon-Valley-riche sports car silently out of the San Mateo County Courthouse parking garage. The two were off to breakfast to chew over a favorable ruling on July 29 that allowed Eberhard’s inflammatory defamation suit to go ahead against Tesla.

Peretz isn’t a Silicon Valley insider. He came from Israel nine years ago, where suicide bombers on one occasion shattered the windows of his Jerusalem law office, and set up a plaintiff-side employment practice in San Francisco in 2003. Now the relatively unknown lawyer is firmly at the center of one of the Valley’s nastiest legal dustups, involving the most-talked-about clean tech startup. Riding with Eberhard against Tesla isn’t an easy win, making it a risky high-profile case for an attorney still establishing himself.

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