• California
  • Northern, Central, Eastern, and Southern Districts of California
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals


University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D.

  • Public Interest Law Certificate
  • Arthur C. Zief Scholarship

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, M.P.H.

  • Delta Omega Honor Society, Alpha Chapter
  • Certificate in Health Disparities and Health Inequalities

Harvard University, A.B.

  • cum laude

Honors & Awards

  • 2016 Super Lawyers Northern California Rising Star
  • 2015 and 2016 Outstanding Pro Bono Volunteer, The Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco
  • 2014-15 Leadership Academy, ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
  • California Bar Foundation Public Interest Scholarship
  • ABA Law Student Division Silver Key Award

Phyra M. McCandless, is a senior associate at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, practicing false claims act litigation and other complex civil matters. She is a Bay Area native and joined the firm after representing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) as an Assistant Regional Counsel for the Office of the General Counsel, Region IX, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. She represented the agencies in administrative and federal court proceedings. She also advised and counseled CMS and IHS clients on a wide variety of matters, including issues involving contracts, class actions, employment, HIPAA, and tort liability.

Ms. McCandless has represented whistleblowers in health care fraud actions and plaintiffs in complex product liability litigation and class actions. Her practice focuses on qui tam (whistleblower) false claims act cases. Ms. McCandless’ past experience with qui tam cases includes Medicare and Medicaid fraud as well as defective products subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She has worked with Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Attorneys General offices across the country. Ms. McCandless has represented hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits against large corporations in asbestos, tobacco, pharmaceutical, consumer fraud, and health care litigation. She has had instrumental roles in the coordinated Risperdal and Invega Product Liability Cases (JCCP 4775) in the Los Angeles Superior Court in addition to the Actos Multidistrict Litigation in the Western District of Louisiana.

Ms. McCandless’ research as a Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education was published in the American Journal of Public Health and the influential peer-reviewed journal Tobacco Control. She also co-authored commissioned white papers for the FDA in 2010.  The American Bar Association (ABA) Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) published two articles she wrote in the Winter 2016 edition of TortSource, including “Mass Torts and Whistleblowing Converge as a Multisided Die.” 

As an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Ms. McCandless coordinated the local San Francisco and Sacramento law student pro bono projects at the Public Interest Clearinghouse (now OneJustice). Prior to becoming an attorney, Ms. McCandless was a health and welfare employee benefits consultant with Merrill Lynch and Hewitt Associates (now AonHewitt), where she negotiated benefit plans, including Medicare Risk insurance, on behalf of the employees and retirees of mid-sized and large companies.

At the University of San Francisco School of Law, Ms. McCandless was a published member of Law Review and was selected to deliver her class commencement speech. During law school, she interned at the AIDS Legal Referral Panel as well as the Health and Human Services team in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

Ms. McCandless has held numerous leadership positions in the ABA and the San Francisco Bar Association (BASF). In the past, she was a member of the ABA’s Center for Racial & Ethnic Diversity and Technology Vice Chair for the ABA TIPS Medicine & Law and Toxic Torts & Environmental Law Committees.  She also served as acting chair for the TIPS Plaintiffs Policy Task Force 2015-16.  She was a Director on the BASF Barristers Club and Justice & Diversity Center’s Boards.  She is a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which was an appointment by ABA President Hilarie Bass. 

Community/Civic Activities

  • The Bar Association of San Francisco

    o   Justice & Diversity Center Legal Advice and Referral Clinic Volunteer

    o   Justice & Diversity Center Consumer Debt Defense and Education Clinic Volunteer

    o   Volunteer Legal Services Program: Family Law Project Attorney

  • University of San Francisco School of Law

    o   Public Interest Law Foundation Co-Chair (2007) and Live Auction Chair (2006)

    o   Law in Motion

  • HIV Prevention Project Volunteer, San Francisco AIDS Foundation

  • Hands On Bay Area Volunteer

Seminars & Speaking Engagements


Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
    • Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • American Public Health Association
  • Consumer Attorneys of California
  • The Bar Association of San Francisco
    • Barristers Club, Board Member (2015-17)
    • The Justice & Diversity Center, Board Member (2015-17)