It is now time to spotlight Allison Lawrence, a partner in Tyson & Mendes’ Northern California office. Allison has extensive litigation experience defending clients in both civil and criminal California state courts and has successfully argued hundreds of cases in jury and bench trials, evidentiary hearings and settlement negotiations. Learn more about Allison’s career and her passion for fantasy football below!
T&M: Tell us about your legal background?
AL: From the time I was in junior high, I knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer. After passing the bar, I joined a small criminal defense firm in Oakland, California. While there, I was in the courtroom four to five days per week and first-chaired several trials. I was able to cut my teeth immediately out of school with evidentiary hearings and trial work and became comfortable in the courtroom quickly.
About four and a half years into my law career, I decided I wanted to change over to civil litigation. I joined Tyson & Mendes in early 2018 and since joining have handled a variety of general liability, premises liability and personal injury cases, and have tried cases on the civil side. Most of my cases are high-exposure matters, including those dealing with catastrophic injury and wrongful death, often with multiple parties. My comfortability and confidence in the courtroom have transferred over to my work in the civil arena.
T&M: What drew you to Tyson & Mendes?
AL: I was drawn to Tyson & Mendes because of the firm’s commitment to helping attorneys grow into the best litigators they can be. The firm regularly offers training, seminars and an abundance of resources to its lawyers to ensure we are up to date on all of the latest legal trends. I was particularly interested in learning the Tyson & Mendes trial methods and knew this was a trial firm that strives to provide justice by preventing runaway and disproportionate verdicts. I knew I wanted to continue trying cases, and Tyson & Mendes has given me that opportunity.
T&M: What has been your favorite thing about working with the firm thus far?
AL: As cliché as it sounds, the people. Tyson & Mendes is a very close-knit group of lawyers. From the moment I interviewed with our Northern California managing partner, Jim Sell, I knew I wanted to be a part of the team and felt at home. Tyson & Mendes hires attorneys from all walks of life, all ages, and all legal backgrounds. Collaborating with the other attorneys in the firm inspires me daily, and there is rarely a legal issue that pops up in our practice that the firm’s attorneys cannot tackle or have not tackled in the past. Now that I have become a partner, I am in awe of the team of lawyers I supervise and learn from them every single day. They are truly so brilliant and talented.
T&M: Tell us about your biggest or most significant trial win?
AL: The first case I tried while at the firm (also my first trial on the civil side) was a bench trial venue in Alameda County. I was assigned the case about a week before trial was set, so I had to get up to speed quickly. The case involved a plaintiff who claimed serious lower leg injuries following an incident outside our client’s store, and the claimed damages were significant. I tried the case solo, and after the court heard all the testimony and argument, I was able to secure a defense verdict for the client. Not only did it feel great to get the positive result, but it also solidified my introduction to civil trial work and was such a rewarding experience.
T&M: Similarly, what do you think is most challenging about working in insurance defense?
AL: The constantly changing and evolving tactics of the plaintiff’s bar and the rise of Nuclear Verdicts®. Every time we turn around, new tricks being used to unfairly inflate damages and lead juries down a path to award excessive amounts to plaintiffs. Luckily, our Tyson & Mendes methods are specifically designed to combat these tactics and can be applied across the board to keep verdicts fair and reasonable.
T&M: What has been the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
AL: Speak up. I was clerking for an insurance defense attorney at a well-known firm in San Francisco right out of law school. I was assisting with a high-profile wrongful death case and was working overtime to get the case ready for trial. There were several attorneys assigned to the case and we would have regular strategy meetings. After the case settled, we were at a lunch to celebrate and the managing partner on the case told me my work ethic and dedication were unmatched, but that I needed to trust my opinions and be more vocal about them if I wanted to go far in my practice. I have carried that simple piece of advice with me ever since and it has been a major factor in putting me in the position I am in today.
T&M: Did you pick up any new talents or hobbies during the pandemic?
AL: Does binge-watching Yellowstone count? During the pandemic I moved from San Francisco to Sonoma, California. Living in Sonoma has allowed me to explore the best food and wines California has to offer. I have made it a goal to hit every local market, restaurant and winery in the area, and have met some amazing people along the way. I have also made it a point to explore the best hiking trails and views throughout Sonoma.
T&M: Where are we most likely to find you on a weekend afternoon?
AL: In addition to exploring Sonoma County, I love watching sports. During football season you will find me watching NFL games all day on Sundays – morning, afternoon and night, especially the 49ers. I take my fantasy team quite seriously. I love getting together with family and friends as well, and also enjoy being outdoors, catching a concert, or hitting flea markets and farmers’ markets.