When budget cuts threatened court closures in San Francisco this summer, Doris Cheng came to the aid of the region’s lawyers. At a July 22 hearing before California’s Administrative Office of the Courts, Cheng spoke on behalf of The Bar Association of San Francisco, whose members had concerns about the impact on civil cases, particularly complex litigation. The AOC ended up giving the courts $3.1 million in a deal that prevented some of the closures.
Cheng, 38, a partner at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger in San Francisco, served for two years on the bar association’s judiciary committee, which rates the qualifications of candidates running for the state and federal bench in San Francisco. In 2008, when she was chairwoman, the committee rated 17 candidates, including two embroiled in a hotly contested election against San Francisco Superior Court Judge Thomas Mellon. “With the election, it was just a tricky thing because it was so public,” she said.
Cheng, a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law, is treasurer of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and was recently invited to join the elite American Board of Trial Advocates.
“To achieve such positions at such a relatively early stage of her career tells you almost all you need to know about how unique and special Doris is,” said Kelly Dermody, a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and president of The Bar Association of San Francisco.
In her law practice, Cheng has negotiated multimillion-dollar settlements in wrongful death and personal injury cases. She also teaches advocacy skills to attorneys and judges in other countries including Mexico and Northern Ireland. — Amanda Bronstad