Tom Paoli is a native San Franciscan who received his college and law school education in San Francisco, from San Francisco State University (B.A., Political Science, 1977) and University of San Francisco (JD, 1982).
Tom has been a civil trial lawyer representing injured plaintiffs only since 1986 when he went to work representing workers suffering from asbestos injuries. Since then, Tom has tried several dozen jury trials, resulting in the recovery of millions of dollars in compensation for his clients. Tom’s thorough knowledge of pre-trial and trial procedures and protocol enable him to handle a wide variety of serious personal injury cases with a creative innovative approach. Tom’s extensive jury trial training and experience has also allowed him to assist other law firms as lead trial counsel in their cases.
Tom’s expertise in trial advocacy is complemented by his extensive experience in settling complex cases. He has received formal negotiation and mediation training for the purpose of representing his clients more effectively in the settlement process. He is well schooled in obtaining the best possible results for his clients, through cooperation in mediation and litigation.
For several years Tom has served as a mediator and arbitrator for the San Francisco Superior Court, and in 2010 Tom was accepted as a neutral arbitrator by the Office of Independent Administrator for the Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitration program.
Tom’s successes as a civil trial lawyer have also allowed him to commit significant time to providing pro bono legal services to people who otherwise would have no voice in the courts. He has represented for free foster parents and prospective adoptive parents who were trying to help foster children in the juvenile dependency court (an opportunity he owes to his wife Margaret Coyne, who is the executive director of Advokids, a non-profit child advocacy group dedicated to improving the lives of foster children). Tom regularly takes on cases other lawyers with his level of experience typically will not get involved with and gives his time and expertise to help without charge. In 2009, he helped a family involved in a highway accident in which their mother was killed. Tom was able to guide them through the process of securing all of the responsible driver’s insurance benefits, and maximize their recovery. He also helped secure a policy limit settlement for a young college student who was badly injured in a highway cross-median head-on accident. In 2010, Tom took on a pro bono case for a young woman with a $15,000 claim which turned into a $165,000 recovery (see December 2010 “Recent News.”) In 2011, Tom helped a young woman who chipped her tooth on a foreign object in a pizza obtain a reasonable settlement from the restaurant’s insurance company. Tom also volunteers in the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Free Legal Advice Clinic program, and for the San Francisco Homeless Connect Project.
Tom lives in San Francisco with his wife Margaret, who he met at USF Law School. They have two daughters, Alanna and Tessa. Tom’s love for San Francisco extends to the Bay, where he swims at the South End Rowing Club, and where he has been a member of the board of directors, and Swim Commissioner. Tom is actively involved in supporting affordable higher public education, by financially supporting San Francisco State University, and in the past through involvement as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences.