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Irwin Zalkin

Founding Partner
  • Profile

Irwin Zalkin is the founding partner of The Zalkin Law Firm and personally oversees all cases and the legal staff of the firm. Mr. Zalkin is a Martindale – Hubble AV Preeminent Litigator (National Directory of Attorneys), the highest rating an attorney can receive from fellow attorneys and judges. He is ranked in the top 5% of lawyers in the country and is licensed to practice in California, New York and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Zalkin graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1976. Thereafter, he attended California Western School of Law in San Diego, California, where he graduated with a Juris Doctorate Degree in 1979. At Cal Western he was a recipient of the American Board of Trial Advocates Trial Attorney’s Award for Moot Court, and was a candidate for the prestigious International Law Journal. Mr. Zalkin was admitted to the California Bar in 1979.

While at Cal Western, Mr. Zalkin undertook a specialized area of study which included International, Admiralty and Maritime Law. His continuing education has included attending and graduating from the National Institute for Trial Advocacy in 1981. He attended and graduated from the Medi-Legal Institute at the University of California Irvine Medical School where he obtained specialized medical education for lawyers in 1983.

Mr. Zalkin was appointed Mediation Liaison Counsel and a lead negotiator by United States Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas on behalf of over 144 victims of childhood sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego. These negotiations resulted in a global settlement of almost $200,000,000. He also was one of the lead trial lawyers and part of the trial team that was prepared to commence a 14 victim trial against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles the day a global settlement was reached in the amount of $660,000,000.

Mr. Zalkin has argued numerous cases before the Appellate Courts of California regarding issues involving childhood sexual abuse claims including the published opinions in McVeigh v. Webb Schools reversing the dismissal by the trial court of an adult victim’s case based on alleged defects with the certificate of merit requirements, and Quarry v. Doe 1 Diocese reversing a dismissal of the case of six brothers abused by Fr. Broderson a notorious pedophile in the Diocese of Oakland California. Mr. Zalkin has had many other published opinions in both state and federal courts.

Mr. Zalkin is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the State of California; all California Courts of Appeal and the Superior Courts for the State of California; the United States District Court for the Southern District, State of California; the United States District Court for the Central District State of California; the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; all of the State Courts of New York and District of Columbia; Pro Hac Vice to the Utah Supreme Court; together with the District Court for the State of Utah, Fifth District and Third District. Mr. Zalkin is also admitted pro hac vice to courts in Indiana, Oregon and Colorado.

In addition to his expertise in sexual abuse cases, Mr. Zalkin has developed an expertise in applying legal strategy to complex medical issues in serious brain, spinal cord and amputee personal injury cases. He is a tenacious litigator, managing difficult cases over periods of years necessary to reach an acceptable resolution for his clients. Mr. Zalkin is also an extraordinary negotiator, recognizing that his clients interests are often best served by negotiations outside the courtroom.


  • 2008 Trial Lawyer of the Year Finalist, Public Justice Foundation, Washington D.C.
  • 2008 Semi-Finalist Top Attorney of the Year, San Diego Daily Transcript
  • 2008 San Diego Top Attorney Corporate Litigation, San Diego Daily Transcript
  • 2009, 2012-2021 San Diego Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers Magazine
  • 2012-2020 National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • 2013, 2020-2021 Top Lawyers in San Diego, San Diego Magazine
  • 2021 America's Most Honored Lawyers - Top 1% 2021, The American Registry