Insight

A Benchmark for Success

Nearly 60 years after its inception, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger continues to be recognized among the top trial firms in the United States.

Walkup Melodia
MP

Margo Pierce

October 20, 2016 12:00 AM

In 2017, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is recognized by U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" as a Tier 1 law firm in San Francisco in three separate areas: plaintiffs’ personal injury litigation, plaintiffs’ product liability litigation, and plaintiffs’ medical malpractice law.

Additionally, every partner at the firm is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, many for more than a decade. And this year, Michael A. Kelly was selected as San Francisco "Lawyer of the Year" in Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Plaintiffs; Richard Schoenberger was selected as "Lawyer of the Year" in Personal Injury – Plaintiffs; and Doris Cheng was selected as "Lawyer of the Year" in Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs.

Founded in 1959 by legendary trial attorney Bruce Walkup, the firm knows that the secret to success is winning for its clients. The firm’s lawyers have, to date, obtained more than a billion dollars from insurance companies in individual injury cases to compensate their injured clients. And since 2010, the firm has achieved more multimillion-dollar verdicts than the majority of other personal injury law firms in Northern California.

"Trial law is a performance-based profession, and we understand that despite decades of significant recoveries, we are only as good as our last result," says partner Michael Kelly. "That’s why we’re so driven to succeed for our clients."

Five firm members have served as president of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association; five members have served as president of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates; two have won the California ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year award; and three have won the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer of the Year award.

Most recently, the firm’s lawyers helped negotiate the landmark $2.5 billion national settlement with Johnson & Johnson arising from defective DePuy ASR hip implants. "Plaintiffs’ personal injury law is one of the few areas where you can make a real difference in people’s lives, and that was certainly true in this case," partner Matthew Davis says.

"When our firm began, there were probably five major personal injury firms in San Francisco, and of those firms, ours is the only one to have survived intact," says partner Douglas Saeltzer.

"Decades later, we remain known for our trial expertise in a range of personal injury cases," Saeltzer notes. "And while it is often said that experienced trial lawyers are vanishing, at this firm we continue to achieve the sort of results at trial that very few other law firms are getting."

Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is widely recognized for the diversity of its practice, having mastered a range of areas, from national mass tort claims involving defective drugs and devices, to individual client claims stemming from truck and auto collisions, dangerous highways, construction accidents, and medical and obstetrical negligence. The firm is also experienced in handling claims against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which requires planholders to submit malpractice claims to arbitration.

"Instead of focusing on a particular niche, we have remained committed to our original mission of obtaining justice for injured individuals through civil trial work," says partner Doris Cheng.

"The attorneys here are smart and successful trial lawyers, and that’s why you have the firm as a whole being ranked Tier 1 in San Francisco by U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" for plaintiffs’ personal injury litigation, medical malpractice law, and product liability litigation," partner Richard Schoenberger says.

The firm’s members also believe in giving back to the profession; to that end, they have held adjunct faculty and teaching positions at Stanford Law School, U.C. Hastings College of the Law, and U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall); traveled to Belfast, Mexico, Chile, Kosovo, Macedonia, Japan, Britain, Scotland, and Eastern Europe to train lawyers in trial advocacy; volunteered at local elementary and secondary schools; and coached mock trial teams.

"At the end of the day, we have endured for all these years because our lawyers are so well rounded, with the knowledge and dedication to get results for our clients," says partner Khaldoun Baghdadi.

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