Honors and Awards
Our firm is the most awarded Personal Injury firm in Northern California, with more Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers listings and more American College of Trial Lawyers members than any other injury firm
Best Lawyers / U.S. News World Report
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, product liability litigation, medical malpractice law, and mass tort litigation/class actions. Eleven Walkup attorneys were recognized by ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ for 2022, including shareholder Richard H. Schoenberger, who received the distinguished honor of being named Lawyer of the Year in the category of Medical Malpractice for the third year in a row. The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process. Firms included on its prestigious national list are recognized for their professional excellence and consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.
The Recorder's "Best of" Award, Triggers Hall of Fame Award
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 2021 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 four years (2018, 2020, 2021). The Recorder selects its ‘Best Of’ honorees based on fellow attorneys, in-house counsel, judges, and legal department administrators voting. The award showcases businesses that stand out among their competitors for exemplary service and skills.
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 2021. The 500 individuals selected by the publication have shown remarkable legal talent in the U.S. legal profession. The three partners from our firm chosen for the list include Michael Kelly, Richard Schoenberger, and Doris Cheng. All have been selected by Lawdragon annually since 2017. In 2021, Mike Kelly was inducted into Lawdragon’s Hall of Fame. Their shared mission to serve clients and the community is consistent with Walkup Melodia’s well-earned national reputation as a professional center of achievement and integrity.
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. Super Lawyers rates outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in more than 70 practice areas. Their patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. Only five percent of all lawyers nominated are recognized as Super Lawyers. The highly competitive vetting process includes measuring honors and awards, verdicts, settlements, experience, firm leadership, education, business achievements, scholarly publications, pro bono work, and community involvement.
Martindale-Hubbell - AV-rated
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.
SFTLA Trial Attorney of the Year/ Lifetime Achievement Award
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. Award recipients are recognized for achieving a noteworthy trial result based on a combination of the size of the verdict and the advancement of rights and interests of society. Two firm members have been honored with the SFTLA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors attorneys who have dedicated their life’s work to personal injury advocacy and the struggle of victims, a commitment to educating and mentoring young attorneys and sharing their exceptional trial skills.
American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL)
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 College thoroughly investigates each nominee for admission and selects only those who have demonstrated the highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism, and collegiality.
Cal ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year
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. Over the 58-year history of the award, the Walkup firm is the only law firm in the state to have had three of its partners honored with the award: Bruce Walkup, James Downing, and most recently, Michael Kelly who was selected in 2014. A past president of the San Francisco ABOTA chapter, Kelly also served five terms on the National Board of ABOTA, and two terms on the Foundation of ABOTA.
International Society of Barristers
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. The Society recognizes the best advocates worldwide who have joined together to support trial by jury in litigated matters. Other goals include improving advocacy under an adversary system, identifying advocacy as a distinct specialty, abolishing animosity between counsel representing plaintiffs and defendants and replacing it with a recognition that all trial lawyers are advocates fully representing the rights of all clients.
Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC)
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. Michael A. Kelly has twice been named a finalist for the CAOC’s Consumer Attorney of the Year Award for his groundbreaking achievements in personal injury law. Kelly is among the top tier of lawyers handling cases involving personal injury, auto and trucking accidents, wrongful death, brain injury, paralysis, and medical malpractice. The honor is awarded to a plaintiff’s lawyer who achieves a significant result in a case that assisted consumers or changed consumer law for the better in California. Kelly and partners Doris Cheng and Richard Schoenberger have all received Awards of Merit and special awards from CAOC for their service to the cause of injury victims’ rights.
Inner Circle of Advocates
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. Since its inception sixty years ago no other firm in Northern California has had as many inductees as The Walkup Firm. The Inner Circle’s mission is to promote the highest standards of courtroom competence and exchange of knowledge among outstanding trial lawyers.
International Academy of Trial Lawyers
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. Fellows include attorneys from the U.S. and more than 30 countries. The Academy’s mission is to promote the fundamental belief that the foundation supporting the Rule of Law must be an independent judiciary. The Academy is also involved in initiatives including encouraging restorative justice for youth, and establishing training for judges, attorneys, and human rights advocates throughout the globe.
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. Ratings are calculated using an algorithm that considers a lawyer’s years in practice, spotless disciplinary history, professional achievements, industry recognition, and other factors relevant to assessing a lawyer’s qualifications.
SFTLA Outstanding Female Attorney
Walkup Law Firm’s shareholder Doris Cheng, well known for her legal accomplishments and leadership as the 106th President of the San Francisco Bar Association, recently received the 2021 Outstanding Female Attorney Award from the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association at its annual Women Referring Women event. Ms. Cheng has obtained multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts for injured clients throughout California, specializing in complex injuries caused by third party negligence.
The strength of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association has always been the wisdom of the women and men that make up the Association. This organization’s collective diversity of practice areas ranges dramatically from personal injury to business litigation, from maritime to bad faith, from employee rights to civil rights. With their novel ideas and technological savvy, the trial lawyers in this great organization shape the litigation jurisprudence landscape, including the outstanding women lawyers. The award recipients achieved professional excellence in their area of specialty and have paved the way for others.
Daily Journal Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California
Annually The Daily Journal recognizes Top Plaintiff’s attorneys around the state doing cutting-edge work in various legal areas before trial courts and on appeal. Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger’s senior partner Michael A. Kelly made the exclusive list of The Daily Journal’s 2021 Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California. Mike’s leadership role in some of the most significant consumer protection cases helped make the world safer. He has tried, arbitrated, or settled more than 200 cases where the recovery by his clients exceeded $1 million. As a Top Plaintiff Lawyer in the state, Michael Kelly led the litigation against the giant utility PG&E for the damage caused to residents by the Northern California wildfires, and the devastating and deadly Camp Fire in Butte County. The PG&E bankruptcy cases are considered the largest tort bankruptcy in U.S. history – with overall payment to victims totaling 13.5 billion dollars.
Daily Journal Top 40 Under 40
As a standout among his peers, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger shareholder Conor M. Kelly made the list of The Daily Journal’s 2021 Top 40 Under 40 attorneys in California due to his compassionate advocacy on behalf of consumers injured by negligence and wrongdoing. Conor has obtained seven and eight-figure jury verdicts involving medical malpractice, premises liability, and automobile collisions. Conor secured a $38.6 million jury verdict on behalf of a 19-year-old client rendered quadriplegic, believed to be the largest medical malpractice verdict ever in San Francisco County. The Walkup Law Firm’s younger attorneys who have demonstrated superior leadership qualifications, reputation, influence, stature, and public profile as young lawyers under the age of 40 have received recognition by The Daily Journal, one of the top legal publications in the state.
SFTLA Trial Attorney of the Year/ Lifetime Achievement Award
Seven individual attorneys at the Walkup Law Firm have been nominated by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (SFTLA) for their coveted Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. Five firm members have won the award for their work in successfully prosecuting personal injury and wrongful death claims. Award recipients are recognized for achieving a remarkable trial result based on a combination of the size of the verdict, and the advancement of rights and interests of society. Two firm members have received SFTLA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The organization honors attorneys who have dedicated their life’s work to personal injury advocacy and the struggle of victims, a commitment to educating and mentoring young attorneys, and sharing their exceptional trial skills.
Inner Circle of Advocates
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, which honors the Top 100 plaintiff personal injury lawyers in America. Membership requires a demonstrated history of multimillion-dollar verdicts coupled with a record of public service. Since its inception sixty years ago, no other firm in Northern California has had as many inductees as The Walkup Firm. The Inner Circle’s mission is to promote the highest standards of courtroom competence and exchange of knowledge among outstanding trial lawyers.
West Trailblazer, National Law Journal
The National Law Journal recognizes professionals who have moved the needle in the legal industry – professionals who are truly trailblazers. Walkup shareholder Richard Schoenberger was named 2021 West Trailblazer for his legal achievements in government liability matters. Some of his most impactful resolutions involve holding public entities accountable for dangerous conditions of public property. His numerous verdicts and settlements have resulted in policy and design changes that improved public safety.