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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Experience and Strategy: Keys to LRIS Attorney’s Success


By Emmy Pasternak, Community Outreach and Case Development Coordinator, LRIS


Admitted to the state bar in 1969 and a member of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) since 1993, Personal Injury attorney Michael Hanley is an enthusiastic, hard-working advocate for his clients and does not shy away from challenging cases that other attorneys might not want to take on.
Recently Hanley obtained a six-figure settlement for an LRIS client referred to him in early 2011. The client had a troubled past and sorting out liability was not easy, but Hanley persevered as he has for many LRIS clients.

In January 2011, a young woman left her apartment to meet friends. While waving hello and walking towards her friend’s car, she tripped and fell on a two inch gap in the sidewalk. When her friends came to her aid, they found her writhing in pain, with partial numbness on one side of her body. Taken by ambulance to the hospital, doctors diagnosed the client with an acute spinal cord injury and rushed her into an eight-hour emergency surgery. As a result of the fall, the young woman will have permanent restricted movement in her neck, limited lifting ability, and will require pain medication for the rest of her life.

At the time of the incident the woman was living at Walden House (now named HealthRIGHT 360) on Treasure Island, where she was receiving treatment and job placement training. Although the City of San Francisco leases the land on Treasure Island from the U.S. Navy, the city had subleased the land to the Walden House treatment center. Under the contract with the city, Walden House maintained control of the property and was therefore liable for keeping the premises in compliance with state and city Department of Public Works codes. Hanley filed suit against Walden House for failing to abide by DPW Order No. 177,525 which considers a half inch displacement of the sidewalk a “priority for repair” because it is hazardous to pedestrians. In fact, the crack in the sidewalk outside of Walden House was four times above the DPW guideline.

Despite the life challenges and injury the client has endured, Hanley reports that the client is doing well, and is holding down a job, and said, “She was very pleased with the settlement. I really like representing clients who have cases that other lawyers might not be willing to take on. I get a chance to build the case from the ground up; compiling evidence, conducting discovery, and planning a strategy.” Not surprisingly, Hanley’s favorite game is chess.

LRIS receives nearly 50,000 calls annually from the public in need of legal representation. BASF’s LRIS is a State Bar Certified Referral Program and an ABA model referral service, well-known nationally for its outstanding legal assistance to the public. Refer with confidence those clients outside your practice area: 415-989-1616 or

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