Patrick M. Kelly Senior Counsel




Pat Kelly is a veteran trial lawyer who focuses his practice on defending individuals and companies in high-stakes professional liability, general liability, product liability, automotive liability and commercial liability cases and advising and representing insurance carriers in coverage and bad faith matters. His practice also encompasses premises liability, employment litigation, ski resort liability and railroad liability matters. He has particular experience with class actions involving directors and officers (D&O) liability, product liability, employment and consumer fraud claims. Pat also is past president of the State Bar of California – the largest state bar in the United States.

Areas of Focus

Pat has tried numerous cases to verdict and has briefed and argued many appeals. He is an accomplished negotiator who seeks an economical and satisfactory resolution to disputes whenever possible. When a matter does proceed to trial, he draws on his strong organizational and oral advocacy skills to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients. Pat’s innovative and insightful use of mock trials in liability cases gives him a clear edge by providing the opportunity to debrief a “jury” and fine-tune his strategy and presentation before heading to court. In recognition of Pat’s litigation skills, his peers elected him as a fellow of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers (limited to 500 members worldwide), the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), and the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

Professional Activities
Among his many leadership roles, Pat is a past president of the California State Bar, second only to the American Bar Association as the largest bar association in the world. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the gold-standard organizations for trial lawyers. In addition, he is the author of the California Insurance Litigation Guide, which is the most-cited insurance treatise in the state. Pat was elected by his peers to serve as president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He also was appointed by the Governor of California to serve as one of 11 members of the Commission on Judicial Performance, which disciplines California state judges and has the power to remove them from the bench. For his leadership in the courts, Pat was elected to the California Judicial Council, the board chaired by the Chief Justice that oversees the California Judicial Branch, including all California courts. In 2013, he received the Leadership Award from the Bench Bar Coalition, which is a court-sponsored consortium of court and bar leaders dedicated to the cause of justice in California. Pat was a member of a six-person delegation sent to Japan by the U.S. Trade Representative in 1991 to renegotiate the terms under which U.S. lawyers practice in Japan, and recently was the California State Bar representative to a delegation to Vietnam.

In his legal practice and his leadership positions, Pat brings a sincere commitment to improving the profession and delivering through hard work. He has achieved success as a litigator and a manager by respecting the position of his colleagues, clients and adversaries and treating their needs with importance and competence. Pat has presented more than 125 lectures and written more than 80 articles for both industry and legal groups. Topics he has addressed include trial tactics, evidence, professional liability, alternative dispute resolution, directors and officers, class actions, liability and coverage issues, bad faith, design, professional liability, attorney error and omissions, employment liability, punitive damages and insurance coverage.

Insurance Coverage
Pat advises and represents as many as 30 insurance companies, at various times, in their insurance coverage matters, ranging from straightforward real estate errors and omissions (E&O) cases to D&O cases involving hundreds of millions in claims. His varied practice in this area also encompasses lawyers E&O cases and all types of employment and commercial claims. Pat is recognized as a leading attorney in the D&O insurance coverage arena, with extensive experience in cases involving class action, derivative, employment and antitrust claims.

Pat is an original co-author of the California Insurance Litigation Guide, the most cited treatise on insurance coverage in California, and is a past president of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society.

Professional Liability
Pat’s practice places a strong emphasis on professional liability issues. He has litigated numerous professional liability cases defending insurers, lawyers, accountants, directors and officers, employers, design professionals, product manufacturers, premises owners and operators, and agents and brokers. For example, Pat recently defended an insurance broker against claims it failed to disclose significant real property defects involving more than $1 million in damages, directors and officers in breach of fiduciary cases, and lawyers in E&O trials.

Pat is past president of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society and served as a founding chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Attorneys Errors and Omissions Prevention Committee.

Product Liability
Pat is frequently hired to try large, complex product liability matters in various jurisdictions throughout the country, often involving catastrophic injuries. He routinely employs state-of-the art computerized defense techniques in connection with product liability and mass tort cases. When appropriate, Pat calls on specialized investigators and forensic experts in such areas as engineering design, medicine, biomechanics, full-scale burn testing, forensic failure analysis and information technology. He also conducts mock trials and engages fully in jury selection to shape the most effective strategy, overcome prejudices and assess exposure.

Industry Focus
Pat has extensive experience in advising clients with respect to commercial litigation, liability litigation and transactional matters for corporations in various industries. For example, he provided general counsel services to one of the largest operators of ski resorts in California in connection with its contracts, securities offerings, purchase and sale transactions, employment disputes, premises liability and commercial disputes. Pat is a past president of the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys and a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.