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Arthur Bridgett, one of the founding partners of Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy, died Monday following a brief illness. He would have celebrated his 95th birthday Dec. 6. The San Francisco native was a general business and commercial litigator who practiced his entire career in the city. Bridgett came up through the Great Depression, studying law in the evenings while holding down a day job as an usher at the old Fox Theater in San Francisco. He graduated from San Francisco Law School in 1936 and focused on corporate law before deciding to specialize in litigation. Bridgett was a solo for several years before forming Bridgett & Marcus with Gerald Marcus in 1953. The firm merged with Schofield, Hanson & Jenkins in 1958 to form the firm that would become Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy. Hanson, Bridgett name partner John Vlahos described Bridgett as a “terrific trial lawyer with a great success record.” In the late 1970s he helped thwart Southern Pacific Railroad Co.’s attempt to discontinue its commuter railway service along the Peninsula, which had been in operation since the 1850s. Bridgett represented the San Mateo County Transit District. Partner David Miller said that Bridgett’s opponents often didn’t know what hit them. “He’d beat them with persistence, subtlety and style,” he said. Bridgett retired in 1984 and continued to do pro bono superior court arbitrations. He was inducted into the Law School Hall of Fame in 1988. Friends and former co-workers credit Bridgett with a key role in shaping a culture at the firm of openness, support and humor. “Art and the other founders established a firm culture of collegiality, unselfishness, mutual respect and teamwork that has been a defining characteristic of Hanson, Bridgett since our inception,” Vlahos said. He added that Bridgett gave younger attorneys the impression that their opinions mattered. When Vlahos joined the firm in 1962, he was surprised to find a senior partner so easy to approach. “I thought, my God, a senior partner in a law firm who wants to hear what I think and sometimes tells me I’m right,” he said. Miller recalled family vacations and ballgames spent with Bridgett. “He was a mentor and a guide and a close friend,” he said. Bridgett is survived by three grandchildren. Plans for memorial services have not been finalized.

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