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Tonsing Lawfirm Profile

Mike Tonsing finds solutions to legal issues for businesses. He understands the challenges confronting growing businesses and enjoys helping owners and managers meet and overcome them. He handles transactional work (like drafting buy/sell agreements, employee handbooks, and contracts) and also engages in litigation (representing both plaintiffs and defendants).

Mike practices primarily as a solo attorney at the Tonsing Lawfirm, based in San Francisco. He values client contact. He is happy to meet personally to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of any case within his sphere of competency or to advise a business regarding the plusses and minuses of an anticipated business decision. Mike is candid. His aim is to develop cost-effective strategies and set realistic goals, then work with clients to achieve those goals in a professional manner, whether that means forming a corporation or defending a lawsuit.

As an inveterate problem solver and an experienced trial lawyer, Mike resorts to litigation only as needed. Given his experience, he understands the economics and mechanics of the trial and appellate judicial process. He uses the courts when prudent, taking cases to trial when necessary; but he also realizes the value of mediated outcomes when circumstances warrant.

Taking the Best Approach for Your Business Law Case

Although he thoroughly enjoys being a solo attorney, Mike recognizes that in some cases a team approach is more appropriate. In such instances, he calls upon the services of a network of experienced professionals to “beef up” a litigation team. He maintains relationships with providers in several disciplines; for example, he may recommend adding the services of an auditor, a private investigator, one or more paralegals, or including another attorney with a different expertise in the mix. He sometimes “second chairs” trials for other lawyers who are less experienced in the courtroom. And, he is “of counsel” to the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle, P.C., a five-lawyer firm in San Francisco that advises importers and exporters regarding international trade matters. He handles trial and appellate matters for that firm.

Diverse Experience

His experience is diverse. Before founding the Tonsing Lawfirm, Mike was with the U.S. Department of Justice, where he had the opportunity to hone his litigation skills with some of the country’s best trial attorneys. Earlier, he worked directly for the Chief Justice of the United States (the Honorable Warren E. Burger) at the U.S. Supreme Court, as a Supreme Court Fellow. Earlier still, he co-founded the Bay Area’s first ABA-accredited paralegal program, where he designed the curriculum and taught evening courses for over two decades.

Mike rose to the rank of major in the U.S. Army, serving as a counterintelligence officer. He is also proud to have served as the CEO of his own commercial enterprise during the 1990s, in the heyday of the “dot com era.” During that time, he developed firsthand business experience — raising capital, meeting payroll, working with vendors, and managing employees. He believes his time as a teacher, his service as an Army officer, and his work as a CEO serendipitously mingled with his training as a lawyer, improving his skills as a business attorney, counselor, leader, and communicator.

Community and Volunteer Involvement

He has also been involved in law-related volunteer activities for many years. For example, he served as president of the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (“FBA”) for two terms. During his second term as president, the Chapter won the FBA’s Best Chapter in the Nation award. He also served as the FBA’s Ninth Circuit vice president. For more than a decade he has written a monthly column on technology and the law for The Federal Lawyer, the journal of the national-level FBA, and he has served for two decades on the editorial board of that publication. He was a member of the California State Bar’s Law Practice Management and Technology Executive Committee and served a term in the same role for the State Bar’s Public Law Section.

Clients who have worked with Mike over the years have learned to expect forward-looking legal advice. New clients should anticipate an initial conversation with a deal-maker-not-deal-breaker attorney who will seek to meet their goals, within the law and within the bounds of ethics. And, they can expect solution-oriented team-involved strategies that meet their business challenges head on.

On a more mundane, but still very important level, Mike believes in communicating, — by answering his phone messages and e-mails from clients.

And, finally, Mike believes justice can be served in a litigation setting, one case at a time, with civility. While he believes that practicing civility is – intrinsically — the right way to practice law, he also pragmatically believes that a lack of civility has a disturbing tendency to prolong litigation, — driving up costs and fees and impeding settlements. In other words, a lack of civility is both wrong and bad for business.

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