Benjamin R. Trachtman
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Sr. Partner and founder. In 1985, Ben graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. In 1988, Ben received his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

Ben was admitted to the California State Bar in 1988. Between 1988 and 1994, Ben worked with one of Orange County's largest defense firms. In 1994, Ben opened his own law office, which now has become Trachtman & Trachtman, LLP. Ben’s practice has been devoted to litigating a wide array of business, construction, professional liability, transportation and many other tort disputes. His dynamic trial skills have enabled him to achieve extraordinary success in the courtroom. Ben employs a unique combination of ultra-preparedness, simplicity/conciseness in presentation, a keen perception of broad and locally-prevailing societal trends and attitudes as well as a passionately sincere interpersonal style that continually wins over jurors. Ben has successfully tried cases in both State and Federal courts, in and outside the State of California.

Ben is routinely retained by our clients to handle their highest profile cases and/or those matters with the most significant exposure. Additionally, Ben is frequently asked to take over/try such cases from other law firms against the premiere Plaintiff’s trial attorneys in California, Nevada and other states around the country.

Since 2011, and most recently in August, 2015, Target Corporation has twice named Ben its “Bullseye Barrister.” Each quarter, Target singles out one practitioner among its nationwide panel of attorneys to earn this coveted distinction. The "Bullseye Barrister" is presented to the attorney who best demonstrates trial prowess and overall representation effectiveness.

A substantial portion of Ben’s practice is in the highly specialized area of commercial construction payment disputes. Ben represents several of the most prominent contractors in the nation prosecuting and defending payment claims under the Federal Miller Act, State Public Contracting Codes and Mechanic’s Lien legislation regulating private works of improvement. Over the years, Ben has collected close to $100 million for our construction clients. Ben frequently lectures on many Construction Law topics.

Ben has successfully handled a variety of other commercial litigation disputes including several cases for a publicly traded leading subprime automobile lender.

An ancillary portion of Ben's practice is devoted to drafting a variety of commercial agreements including construction contracts, commercial leases and purchase and sale contracts. Ben also advises the Firm's clients concerning said transactions.

A representative sampling of Ben’s clients include: Siemens Corporation, Target Corporation, U.S. Bancorp, Bergelectric Corp., National Interstate Insurance Company, Consumer Portfolio Services, Inc. and many of the leading ground transportation firms in the country.




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Marc A. Trachtman

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Marc is a Senior Partner and joined the Firm with his brother Ben, in 1997. In addition to being an extremely skilled civil litigator, Marc successfully handles an exceptionally wide array of civil litigation and complex matters, including construction litigation, construction defects, construction accidents, commercial general liability defense, including premises liability and automobile accidents, business litigation, professional negligence, including medical malpractice, and personal injury.

Marc experiences success in the Courtroom. His trial achievements were well chronicled in the Los Angeles Daily Journal publication, Verdicts & Settlements. Marc’s photograph graced the cover of this renowned publication, which featured an article on Marc’s trial techniques and skills relative to his attainment of a notable medical malpractice verdict. In 2007, Marc was named a “Southern California Super Lawyer” by the publishers of Los Angeles Magazine as selected by his peers, of which only 5% of the total lawyers in Southern California are listed as “Super Lawyers.” Marc also has been invited by and lectured to the Bar Association of Northern San Diego County for State Approved Continuing Legal Education Credit on developing trial strategy.

Marc has been selected by and has served the Orange County Superior Court for many years with Mandatory Settlement Conferences and is an appointee on the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel. He is also a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, Orange Country Trial Lawyers Association, Orange County Bar Association, and Orange County Barristers.

In 1993, Marc received his Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar. In 1990, Marc graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. While at UC Davis, Marc was elected President of the Interfraternity Council and was nominated by the Assistant Vice Chancellor to participate in UC Davis’ prestigious Leadership Institute.


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Ryan M. Craig

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Ryan M. Craig is a Partner practicing within the firm's tort, business and construction practices. Ryan has developed excellent experience in handling cases involving breach of construction contract, construction defects, general liability matters, and business dealings.

In 1996, Ryan graduated from Chapman University in Orange, California with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, with an emphasis in American History.

In 2000, Ryan received his Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida School of Law and School of Business in Gainesville, Florida. While at Florida, Ryan served as the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Law & Public Policy and received awards in Legal Research & Writing and Trial Practice. In 2001, Ryan was admitted to the Florida Bar. In 2002, Ryan was also admitted to the California Bar.

Ryan's litigation experience includes depositions, law and motion, discovery and a full range of trial preparation activities including the use of experts, interviewing witnesses, document management as well as jury and bench trials. Ryan is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution including arbitrations, mediations and settlement negotiations.

Ryan has achieved extraordinary success in extricating our clients via Motions for Summary Judgment. Ryan's superior writing, combined with his heightened analytical ability, has produced many eye-popping wins via MSJ.


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Timothy M. Smith

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Partner. Tim received his BA from Pepperdine University in 1983 with honors, and his JD from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in 1986, where he served on the Law Review Legislative Review staff.

Tim was admitted to the California State Bar in 1986. From 1986-1990 Tim was an associate with Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, one of the largest Sacramento law firms, focusing on public agency representation. In 1990, Tim transitioned to McKinley, Gay, Keitges & Pach where he represented insurance companies and defendants in personal injury litigation. He was trained in litigation by a premier defense attorney, William McKinley. He also was the firm’s primary attorney on select plaintiff’s personal injury claims. In 1994, William McKinley and Tim formed their own firm, McKinley & Smith, APC, in Sacramento, where Tim practiced for over 21 years. Tim has been AV rated since the mid-1990s. Tim joined Trachtman & Trachtman, LLP in 2015.

Tim has defended various commercial enterprises, including ski areas, recreational equipment firms, small businesses and churches. Through Tim’s extensive experience in ski-related litigation, he has become one of the foremost experts on the doctrine of primary assumption of risk and about the application of express assumption of risk. Tim has also has significant professional liability experience especially in legal malpractice matters. Tim has had overwhelming trial success, leading to recognition as a northern California SuperLawyer and to certification as a civil trial specialist from 2009-2014. Tim has tried cases in six (6) California counties and in several Federal District courts. Further, Tim has argued multiple appeals before the 9th Circuit, the California Supreme Court and multiple Courts of Appeal. Tim has seven (7) published appellate decisions and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. From time to time, Tim has successfully prosecuted multiple plaintiff’s personal injury matters to significant verdicts.

Tim has a reputation as a creative attorney who is not afraid to think outside of the box.


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Kevin L. Henderson

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Kevin L. Henderson is a Senior Associate practicing within the firm's tort, business and construction practices. Kevin has substantial experience in handling cases involving construction defects, construction site injuries, product liability, "toxic mold" and general liability matters.

In 1983, Kevin graduated from Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in Music Business. In 1990, Kevin received his Juris Doctorate from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, California and in 1991, an LLM. in Litigation from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is admitted to practice in all California state courts, the United States District Court for the Central District of California and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kevin regularly represents general contractors, design professionals and subcontractors in the prosecution and defense of construction defect and construction site personal injury claims. His construction defect cases have ranged from a single multi-million dollar home to large condominium projects to commercial buildings. He has also represented a wide variety of product manufacturers in litigation involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death claims. His clients include entities involved in the manufacture of mobile homes, conveyor belts, electrical discharge machines, unit dosing machines, oxygen delivery systems, and storage tanks for Hydrofluoric Acid, among others.

Additionally, Kevin has represented landlords, property managers, homeowners associations, non-profit housing corporations and municipalities in cases involving claims of personal injuries related to exposure to "toxic mold" caused by water intrusion into residential structures.

Kevin's litigation experience includes depositions, law and motion, discovery and a full range of trial preparation activities including the use of experts, interviewing witnesses, document management as well as jury and bench trials. Kevin is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution including arbitrations, mediations and settlement negotiations.
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Mathew J. Vande Wydeven

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Mathew J. Vande Wydeven ("Matt") is a Senior Associate practicing within the firm's civil litigation, business and employment practices. Matt is a former partner of Wise Pearce Yocis & Smith, a civil litigation firm in Long Beach, California.

In 1985, Matt graduated as an Alumni Scholar from U.C.L.A. with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics. In 1988, Matt received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He is admitted to practice in all courts of the State of California; the United States District Court for the Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern Districts of California; and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2005, Matt was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Matt has over twenty years of experience defending personal injury and wrongful death claims. He has been responsible for handling all aspects of civil cases from their inception through and including trial. He has successfully defended numerous cases involving tort liability in the hospitality, retail, cruise-line and construction industries. Over the years, he has handled many personal injury/products liability claims involving gas-fired appliance, materials handling equipment, construction machinery and safety equipment. He has defended numerous automobile, bus and truck accident cases. Matt has also defended employers in employment/wrongful termination cases, Labor Code §132a claims, DFEH/EEOC complaints and wage claims.

Matt has experience with accident investigation, civil discovery, depositions and law and motion. He has conducted and/or participated in numerous arbitrations and mediations, often in high-stakes cases. He has served as both lead and assistant counsel in court and jury trials.

Matt is a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel; Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County Bar Associations; and the Joseph A. Ball/Clarence S. Hunt Inn of Court. He is a member of the Torts and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association.

In addition to practicing law, Matt has served as a volunteer arbitrator, mediator and crash settlement officer for the Los Angeles Superior Court. He has been pro bono counsel to the Junior League of Long Beach, and has served as a hearing officer for the City of Long Beach. He was formerly on the Board of Governors of the Long Beach Bar Association where he served as Scholarship Committee Chair.


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Kelli A. Trachtman

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Kelli A. Trachtman is a Senior Associate practicing within the firm’s tort, business and construction practices. Kelli has developed excellent experience in handling cases involving a vast array of civil litigation disputes.

In 1985, Kelli graduated from University of Southern California with both a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. While at USC, Kelli served as the Vice President of the Alpha Phi Sorority. Kelli was a member of the Blackstonian Pre-law Honor Society and Alpha Lamba Delta Honor Society. Kelli also served as a Contributing Reporter for the USC Daily Trojan newspaper.

In 1988, Kelli received her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Kelli was a semi-finalist in Scott Moot Court Competition. In 1988, Kelli was admitted to the California Bar.

Between 1990-2004, prior to joining Trachtman & Trachtman, LLP, Kelli served as the General Counsel for the Out-Patient Surgery Center, Huntington Beach, CA. Kelli’s litigation experience includes depositions, law and motion, discovery and a full range of trial preparation activities including the use of experts, interviewing witnesses, document management and preparing cases for trial. Kelli is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution including mediations and settlement negotiations.


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Julie A. Hamlin

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Julie A. Hamlin is an Associate practicing within the firm’s tort and business practices.

In 2010, Julie graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business. Julie earned her Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School in 2014, graduating Magna Cum Laude. While at Whittier Law School, Julie was an active member of the Trial Advocacy Honors Board, as well as Secretary for the Intramural Sports Club on campus. Julie’s initial exposure to the law came in the form of an internship with a consumer protection law firm where she gained extensive experience in motion writing and litigation involving class actions, false advertising, and unfair business practices. Julie was admitted to the California Bar in 2014.


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Kelsey E. Quist

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Kelsey Quist is an Associate practicing within the firm’s tort and business practices.

In 2010, Kelsey graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics. Kelsey was a member of the Princeton University Softball Team, where she earned honors for First Team All-Ivy, First Team NFCA (National Fastpitch Coach’s Association), and was an All-American Nominee. She currently holds the school’s record for most home-runs in a season. In her senior year at Princeton, Kelsey published a thesis entitled “Trouble at the Crossroads: Healthcare and Unauthorized Immigration,” which examines the complex issues between immigration and healthcare reform from a political theory lens.

In 2015, Kelsey graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctor degree. While in law school, Kelsey was an active member of the Moot Court Program and technical editor on the Maritime Law Journal. After earning the award for Best Oralist her 1L year, she went on to compete in two moot court competitions, arguing at the Appellate and Supreme Court levels. After winning Regional Champion and Best Brief in the 2014 Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, Kelsey went on to become a National Semi-Finalist. In her final year of law school, Kelsey accepted a position on the Moot Court Board as a Development Director, where she was responsible for coaching and mentoring several of the program’s competition teams. Kelsey’s successes in the Moot Court Program and competitive athletic background sparked a passion for being in the courtroom and led her to pursue a career in litigation. In 2016, Kelsey was admitted to the California Bar.


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Jeffrey E. Flynn

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Jeff is a Senior Associate practicing within the firm's tort, business, and construction law practice groups.

In 1989, Jeff received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English from San Diego State University. He received his Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law in 1993.

Jeff began his legal career working for a San Diego civil litigation firm which specialized in the defense of personal injury and other tort based claims, construction defect litigation, and insurance coverage matters. In 2001, Jeff transitioned to English & Gloven, APC, a boutique civil business litigation firm where he handled a wide variety of business related disputes for private and institutional clients.

Jeff is an accomplished attorney with over twenty years of experience handling complex, multi-party litigation matters. He has significant experience in all facets of case management including pleadings, law and motion, discovery, depositions, mediations, arbitrations, trials and post-trial work. Jeff has obtained favorable results in all aspects of his practice.


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James M. Fraser

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Jim graduated UCLA in 1976 and Western State University College of Law in 1980. He began his practice of law in an association of sole practitioners handling business litigation and transactional matters, disputed family law matters, criminal defense, personal injury cases, and a variety of different administrative law matters. In 1987, he left to supervise a personal injury law firm in Long Beach for four years resolving hundreds of cases and collecting several millions of dollars for the firm's clients. In 1991 he began working for insurance carrier American International Group at its Orange County staff counsel office, defending its clients against large exposure commercial liability claims. In 2006 he was promoted to the position of managing attorney where he remained until his departure in late 2012.

He is a member of the State Bar of California, the District of Columbia, and is admitted to practice to the US District Courts of Central and Eastern California and the United States Supreme Court. He has previously been appointed by the State Bar of California to a 2 year term to sit on its Committee for Administration of Justice, Southern California section. He has sat Judge Pro Tem for Orange County Superior Court at several regional locations and was an arbitrator for the Orange County Bar Association (attorney client fee disputes) for nearly ten years. He has conducted numerous jury trials and bench trials obtaining favorable verdicts for his clients and has participated in hundreds of arbitrations and mediations. He has taught principles of mediation and organized, presented, and overseen training seminars for insurance claims professionals. He is a Master Bencher and active member of the William P. Gray Leg Legion American Inns of Court. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.



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Donald S. Zalewski

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Don is a Senior Associate in the tort, business and civil litigation practice areas. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with departmental honors from the University of California, Berkeley. Don received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. He is a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel and Orange County Bar Association.

Don has spent his legal career representing companies and individuals in many different legal matters with a client based approach to find the best resolution. He has defended general liability lawsuits since 1988 in California federal and state courts.

Don has successfully tried numerous cases to verdict and prevailed on appeals. He has significant experience in personal injury litigation in both single plaintiff and complex cases. Don has represented agents and brokers in defense of claims of negligence, fraud, and breach of fiduciary. He also has defended class action lawsuits involving various consumer protection statutes. In construction matters, he has represented contractors in construction defect, contract disputes, and California False Claims Act matters. Don has completed jury trials to verdict in the areas of insurance professional’s liability, premises liability, automobile negligence, express contractual indemnity and consumer warranty.



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Stephanie Straka

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Stephanie Straka has been the Firm Administrator for Trachtman & Trachtman LLP since 2008. Ms. Straka is responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the office, including accounts payable/receivable, non-legal staff hiring and management, vendor procurement and relations and communication with firm management. Ms. Straka provides administrative leadership for the office and acts as the liaison between our talented staff and firm management.

Ms. Straka has more than 20 years of law firm experience, both as a Legal Assistant and in Office Administration.