Chuck Geerhart was admitted to the California bar in 1989, and is a graduate of Cornell University and the UCLA Law School. He has tried 16 cases to jury verdict. He has also sat as a juror in three cases in San Francisco County. Chuck is a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (SFTLA), and will be SFTLA President in 2022.
Chuck is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an invitation-only organization of premier trial lawyers who have tried at least 10 jury cases to verdict.
A San Francisco resident since 1989, Chuck Geerhart grew up in the Washington, D.C., area where he attended public schools. He was an Eagle Scout and worked three summers as a staffer at Goshen Scout Camps in rural Virginia. He received a Naval ROTC full four-year scholarship to attend Cornell University from 1977-81. At Cornell, Chuck majored in English literature and was a staff writer and columnist for The Cornell Daily Sun. This background in writing, both academically and as a journalist, prepared him well to write clear, concise and persuasive legal briefs.
Upon graduating from Cornell, Chuck was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Supply Corps. After supply school in Athens, GA, he reported for duty as disbursing and food service officer on the USS Sylvania (AFS 2) homeported in Norfolk, VA. This tour from 1982-84 took Chuck on repeated deployments to various ports in the Mediterranean Sea. After his sea tour, Chuck was promoted to Lieutenant and served his last year in his four-year commitment to the Navy as an aviation supply officer at Moffett Field Naval Air Station, Mountain View, CA.
After leaving the Navy, Chuck attended the UCLA School of Law, where he was a member of the Moot Court Honors Program and was a summer clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several law firms.
After graduation from UCLA, Chuck passed the bar and moved back to the Bay Area to work for Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, one the leading civil defense firms in California. There, he cut his teeth on a wide variety of defense cases, including groundwater contamination, construction defect, product liability, construction injury cases, and numerous automobile accident cases. He learned the law of product liability while defending The Stanley Works in automatic door cases and defending PG&E in a massive power plant explosion and asbestos release caused by the rupture of a defective product (a desuperheating steam attemperator). There were over 400 plaintiffs in this case.
In 1995, Chuck made the move to a smaller defense firm, Arnelle Hastie McGee, which at the time was the largest minority-owned firm in California. He continued to handle civil defense cases, and became a partner of the firm. Much of his work at the Arnelle firm involved defending Ford Motor Company in product liability cases, including two trials. It was as a result of this work and subsequent work for plaintiffs that Chuck became an expert in product liability law.
In 1998, Chuck opened his own law firm and by 1999 began representing plaintiffs only. In 1999, Chuck’s practice became 100% representation of injured people. Here is his philosophy:
“I love representing individual people. I look back now on my years as a defense lawyer as valuable training and absolutely necessary in showing me what it’s like to represent companies and insurance interests. It’s made me a better lawyer now, because I understand how the other side (my opponent) thinks. I can get inside my opponents’ heads and figure out where they are going with a case. My defense history also makes me incredibly grateful to be representing and helping injured people. When I succeed for my clients now, I know I have made a difference in a real person’s life.”
Thirteen of Chuck’s 16 trials have been for plaintiffs. In addition to his law practice, Chuck volunteers pro bono for the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Legal Advice and Referral Clinic, which helps hundreds of citizens who cannot afford legal advice. Chuck serves as a Court-appointed Settlement Conference Officer for the San Francisco Superior Court.
Chuck is committed to improving diversity in the law and empowering others. He has been a member and Chair of the Diversity Committee of the SFTLA, which sponsors an annual Trial Advocacy Fellowship for top law students. He was a Finalist for the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer of the Year award in 2013. In 2020, Chuck was honored by the SFTLA Women’s Caucus as its Ally of the Year for his commitment to helping women in the law.
Chuck lives with his wife, Cathy, and dogs, Jackson and Casey in San Francisco’s Crocker Amazon neighborhood. In his free time, he hikes and jogs throughout the McLaren Park and San Bruno Mountain trails. He enjoys live music, especially classic rock and jam bands of the 1960s. He’s a news and pop culture junkie- don’t get him started on these subjects. He and his wife also enjoy camping and backpacking.