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Attorney Referrals

We handle cases on referral from or in association with lawyers throughout California and across the United States. For more than 50 years we have been a trusted referral partner by attorneys in all practice disciplines looking for the right representation for clients with substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases. Consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct and governing law we have paid millions of dollars in fees to referring and associated counsel every year since 1959. As one of the pre-eminent plaintiff personal injury and wrongful death firms in the country, we receive referrals from firms of all sizes, from solo practitioners to large mega-firms who want to make sure their clients are well taken care of. Non-personal injury specialists in every type of practice area, from intellectual property to corporate, public interest to tort defense, tax to patent and trademark, have trusted us with the referral of friends, family and clients to investigate and prosecute injury and death claims.

You Can Depend On Our Referral Agreements And Payments

All referral agreements and referral fees are paid consistent with State Bar Rule 2-200. Acknowledgment of the referral agreement by the client at the time of initial retention is required by law.

We work with referring counsel to make certain that the referral fee or fee division is fair and reflects proper compensation for the work undertaken, the risk assumed, the time commitment involved the potential for loss, and the advanced costs responsibility of the individual case. There is no one size fits all arrangement. In each case, the amount or percentage of the fee is tailored to the individual circumstances of the case. Factors which are considered include the size of the case, its complexity, the overall fee negotiated with the client, the likelihood of success, the responsibility for advanced costs, the amount of involvement of the referring attorney, and the point in the case at which our firm has been retained or associated. We pay referrals and share fees in medical negligence, brain injury, auto accident, catastrophic injury, construction site injuries, product defect claims, medical drug and device litigation, government liability, and truck collisions.

A Collaborative Approach To Referred Cases

We welcome referrals at any point in the litigation. Ideally, we prefer that we be retained as early as possible so that we can direct initial investigation and litigation strategy, discovery planning, expert retention, trial preparation and settlement negotiations. In some cases, we are retained on the eve of trial, and our attorneys are ready to accept matters on short notice. We take pride in our lawyers’ ability to work cooperatively with our referring attorneys. Whether a referring attorney wishes to remain involved, joint venture the case or negotiate some other type of cooperative participation agreement, it is a rare instance where we are unable to negotiate an equitable referral fee agreement.

We know that when referring attorneys send us a matter for collaboration they are placing their reputation on the line. We know that after a referral is made to us, referring counsel rightfully expects that at the end of the case, the client will greet them with these two words: thank you. A referral to our firm reflects an important decision to get the best result for the client while allowing the initial lawyer to share in the fee according to Rule of Professional Conduct 2-200.

Whether specializing in family law, business, real estate, patent and trademark, tax, insurance defense or plaintiff’s personal injury practice, lawyers who work with us via referral or association are treated with respect and their relationship with the client is protected and acknowledged.

The litigation and trial of serious and catastrophic injury or wrongful death cases is time-consuming, difficult and expensive. The lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger stand ready to receive referring counsel’s association in these cases to maximize the clients recovery. Lawyers in other fields of specialty know that by trusting Walkup their clients will get an optimum result.

If you would like to discuss a potential referral with any attorney at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, please call one of our partners or Kevin Domecus at (415) 889-2919, or you can email us at kdomecus@

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Attorney Referrals | Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger

California Rule Of Professional Conduct 2-200 Financial Arrangements Among Lawyers

(A) A member shall not divide a fee for legal services with a lawyer who is not a partner of, associate of, or shareholder with the member unless:

The client has consented in writing thereto after a full disclosure has been made in writing that a division of fees will be made and the terms of such division; and the total fee charged by all lawyers is not increased solely by reason of the provision for division of fees and is not unconscionable as that term is defined in rule 4-200.

(B) Except as permitted in paragraph (A) of this rule or rule 2-300, a member shall not compensate, give, or promise anything of value to any lawyer for the purpose of recommending or securing employment of the member or the member’s law firm by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in employment of the member or the member’s law firm by a client. A member’s offering of or giving a gift or gratuity to any lawyer who has made a recommendation resulting in the employment of the member or the member’s law firm shall not of itself violate this rule, provided that the gift or gratuity was not offered in consideration of any promise, agreement, or understanding that such a gift or gratuity would be forthcoming or that referrals would be made or encouraged in the future.

6 Reasons Why Attorneys
Refer Their Cases to Us

Most Awarded Personal Injury
Firm In Northern California

Three Walkup Firm partners’ long track record of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements, commitment to legal education and public service outside the courtroom, placed them on Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Lawyers in America for 2024.
The annual Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America is the most elite distinction in the profession, covering the best of the best in all practice areas.
Best Lawyers® is compiled annually by conducting peer-review surveys in which leading attorneys confidentially evaluate their professional peers. Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger has ranked consistently year after year as a Top Tier firm nationally in the specialty of mass tort litigation/class actions and regionally ranked as a Top Tier firm in personal injury litigation and more.
Attorneys from the Walkup Law Firm were honored in the 2021 Super Lawyers Top Lists, including Top 10 Northern California Lawyers, Top 100 Northern California Lawyers, and Top 50 Women Lawyers in Northern California. The Super Lawyers publication has consistently named Mike Kelly a “Top Ten” honoree, and in 2020 and 2021 he received recognition as the #1 “Vote Getter” in all of Northern California.
The Walkup Law Firm’s dedication to helping injured consumers hold corporate giants accountable for wrongdoing has once again earned it a top spot this year on the list of The Recorder’s Best of 2024 Awards for Personal Injury Law Firms in California. We are also proud to be awarded the Hall of Fame status for winning three of the last six years.
The Walkup Firm is the only firm in Northern California to have two firm members honored with admission to The Inner Circle of Advocates, the most exclusive honorary society in the country honoring the top100 Plaintiff personal injury lawyers in America. Admission requires a demonstrated history of multimillion-dollar verdicts coupled with a record of public service.
Each year, American Association for Justice honors trial lawyers, affiliates, and advocates who support its fight for justice.
The CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year is awarded annually to a recipient exhibiting the best traits of a trial lawyer – excellence in advocacy, a distinguished career, and a reputation for civility, ethics, and fair play. Each of the eight CAL-ABOTA chapters is entitled to nominate a candidate for Trial Lawyer of the Year, considered the highest honor a California trial lawyer can receive. Written and oral presentations are submitted to CAL-ABOTA’s board, followed by selecting the award recipient by majority vote.
As leaders in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death litigation, the Walkup Law Firm has been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell, most recently in 2021 when the firm received an “AV” rating, the highest rating given on the platform. The Martindale-Hubbell AV rating reflects the highest possible grade for legal competence and ethical conduct. Selection is based on confidential evaluations submitted by lawyers and judges and documents the esteem with which a lawyer’s peers rank them.
Throughout its history, the Walkup firm has been honored to have seven different members elected to this Academy of elite trial lawyers. Michael A. Kelly, Richard Schoenberger, and Doris Cheng are current Fellows. The Academy represents both sides of the Bar: prosecutors and defense lawyers in criminal cases, and plaintiff and defense counsel in civil matters.
Over the last 35 years, seven Walkup attorneys have been members of this highly selective, invitation-only honor society. Two members of the firm, Michael A. Kelly and Daniel J. Kelly, have served as the Society’s President. The International Society of Barristers selects its members through a rigorous screening process that evaluates the lawyer’s skills, experience, accomplishments, and ethical standards.
Seven different attorneys at The Walkup Law Firm have been nominated by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (SFTLA) for their coveted Trial Lawyers of the Year award. Five members of the firm have won the award for their work in successfully prosecuting personal injury and wrongful death claims.
The Summit Council is an exclusive group of today’s top civil justice attorneys who are committed to the highest levels of trial advocacy, to obtaining justice for individuals and families who have been hurt by corporate wrongdoing, and to the protection of the civil justice system.
Six of our attorneys are currently named Fellows of The American College of Trial Lawyers for their dedication to improving the quality of trial and appellate advocacy. The ACTL is an invitation-only fellowship of exceptional trial lawyers of diverse backgrounds from the United States and Canada.
The Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) is a professional organization for California personal injury attorneys and other lawyers who represent plaintiffs and as an advocacy group that opposes legislation that would limit courtroom access for those without ample resources. As part of the 2022 leadership team, partner Douglas Saeltzer is the Third Vice President of this organization, comprised of California personal injury attorneys.
As California’s premier personal injury law firm, Walkup Melodia Kelly & Schoenberger has been recognized by some of the nation’s best rating services. In 2021, our firm was once again honored with an AVVO rating of 10.0 “Superb” for firm members’ excellence in shaping personal injury law. More than 95% of lawyers in the U.S. are rated on a scale of 1-10 by AVVO.