Michael A. Kelly '76 of San Francisco has been selected as the CAL-ABOTA 2014 Trial Lawyer of the Year.
Recognized as the highest honor a California trial lawyer can receive, the CAL-ABOTA TLOY is awarded annually to a recipient who exhibits the best traits of a trial lawyer – excellence in advocacy, a distinguished career and a reputation for civility, ethics and fair play.
Beginning in 1962, the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) National Executive Committee decided to select an outstanding California lawyer to honor on an annual basis. Kelly’s selection was made by representatives from California’s eight ABOTA chapters, each of whom had nominated an individual for consideration.
The criteria for the award requires that: 1. The person be an excellent advocate; 2. That the person have a distinguished career; 3. That the person have a superb reputation of civility, ethics and fair play; and 4. That the person have participated in one or more outstanding trial results.
Recognition as the CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year also includes a donation made to the law school of the recipient’s choice. Kelly has directed that the 2014 donation be made to the Trial Advocacy Program at UC Hastings. He will be honored at the annual CAL-ABOTA conference held in Hawaii in November 2014.
“Mike Kelly has long been one of the most prominent trial lawyers in California,” said UC Hastings Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu. “His fame is increasingly international. When Japanese lawyers started to conduct jury trials, they invited Mike to visit to train them in techniques. We’re so proud of his ongoing association with UC Hastings, including his generous support for our programs oriented toward Japan.”
Kelly has been involved in the prosecution of plaintiffs-side tort claims since 1978. He is a member of the most prestigious, invitation-only, honorary legal societies including the Inner Circle of Advocates, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Layers and the International Society of Barristers (for whom he served as President in 2013), as well as a four-time Trial Lawyer of the Year nominee of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.
In 2013, Kelly helped obtain the first plaintiff’s verdict on behalf of an injured consumer in the nationwide ASR litigation against Johnson & Johnson arising from its failed metal-on-metal hip. In 2012 he was presented the Robert Cartwright award by the Consumer Attorneys of California for his advocacy teaching. In 2011, he was honored by the National Institute of Trail Advocacy with its Robert Oliphant Award, recognizing his pro-bono contributions to advocacy training. He has been listed among the Best Lawyers in America for 17 consecutive years. He has been a “Top Ten” Northern California Super Lawyer five times in the last seven years. He holds an “AV” rating (highest rating) from Martindale Hubble and has served as an invited speaker at more than 200 continuing education seminars for attorneys across the country and outside the United States on subjects ranging from civil trial practice to cross-examination, evidence, opening statement and final argument.
From 1981 through 2001, Kelly was a member of the teaching faculty at UC Hastings, where he taught trial practice, evidence advocacy and personal injury litigation. In 2009 and 2010 he traveled to Japan to assist with the training of Japanese trial lawyers in connection with that country’s newly adopted modified jury trial system. He has also made multiple visits to England, Ireland and Scotland to help in the training of solicitors and in 2008, he traveled to the Republic of Georgia to train new lawyers in that country’s fledgling adversarial system.
CAL-ABOTA is dedicated to the preservation of the 7th Amendment right to civil jury trial; the right of all citizens access to the courts; an independent judiciary; a code of professionalism and principles of civility which have elevated the standards of integrity, honor and ethics in the profession and, comprehensive civic education in our public schools to guarantee that students have a full understanding of their rights and responsibilities under the Constitution.