Irish Legal 100


MICHAEL A. Kelly is a shareholder with Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger in San Francisco. He is in his fourth decade as one of the nation’s top personal injury attorneys.

Throughout that time Kelly has focused on protecting consumers from medical mistakes, dangerous automobiles, flawed household products, unsafe drugs and devices, roadway accidents and a host of other injury producing causes. He has tried, arbitrated or settled more than 200 cases where the recovery by his client exceeded $1 million, and has multiple eight-figure verdicts.

Kelly helped lead the litigation against the nation’s largest investor-owned utility PG&E for damages to residents of six North Bay counties and Butte County caused by the utility triggering Northern California wildfires. The PG&E bankruptcy case, concluded on behalf of wildfire victims, is the largest tort bankruptcy in U.S. history, with overall payment to victims totaling $13.5 billion.

In May 2020 litigation on behalf of Hastings College of the Law, Kelly teamed with his colleagues at Walkup Melodia as well as principals at Greenberg Gross in Orange County to negotiate a tentative settlement aimed at resolving health and safety issues produced by a homeless encampment crisis in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of residents, local businesses, and UC Hastings Law School, sought to compel the City of San Francisco to remove almost 500 tents obstructing the sidewalks of the Tenderloin and safely relocate the unhoused residents living on the sidewalks.

Recent trials include a $4 million jury verdict against the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District for the death of a pedestrian struck by one of its buses; a $5.6 million jury verdict against a Super Shuttle driver for the death of a retired restauranteur; a $12.75 million recovery against a domestic automaker (auto roll over), a $10.5 million settlement for the wrongful death of a single mother, and a $7.5 million birth injury malpractice recovery against a national HMO. His $8,341,000 verdict in the first DePuy ASR/Johnson & Johnson metal-on-metal artificial hip trial set the standard for verdicts in the nationwide hip implant litigation and helped produce a $2.5 billion national settlement.

Kelly has presented more than 200 invited lectures, tutorials, presentations, seminars and advocacy demonstrations across the U.S., and in Asia, South America, the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe.

In September of 2019 he chaired the 20th anniversary solicitor training for the Institute of Legal Studies at Queen’s University in Belfast. In 2017 he returned to Japan for a fourth time at the request of the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations to teach litigation advocacy courses in Osaka and Tokyo.

Northern California Super Lawyers recognized Kelly as the number one vote getter on its list of 2021’s Top Ten Super Lawyers in Northern California for the second year in a row. Kelly was also included on the Top 10 and Top 100 list of lawyers in Northern California for the 18th time, as well as being selected by Best Lawyers to its roster for the 20th consecutive year. Kelly made the list of the Los Angeles Daily Journal’s 2021 Top Plaintiff Lawyers and was inducted into Lawdragon’s Hall of Fame for his many years of pro-consumer successes.

A member of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, the Summit Council, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers, he holds an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Kelly earned a BA, summa cum laude, from St. Mary’s College. He earned a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1976.

Kelly’s great grandfather Hugh Kelly emigrated from Co. Sligo. His great grandmother’s roots are in Co. Donegal. Kelly’s wife Patricia is Irish on both sides. He is a member of the Irish American Bar Association of San Francisco, the San Francisco Irish Cultural Center and the Hibernian Newman Society.

Kelly is also a member of the St. Thomas Moore Society. He is an active member of the alumni of St. Mary’s College, whose mascot is the Galloping Gael. He is an alumnus and past president of the Board of Regents of Sacred Heart High School where he was taught by Irish Christian Brothers.

The Kellys have four adult children, one of whom, Conor, is a fellow member of the Irish Legal 100.





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