Michael G. McDonald

Michael G. McDonald
Westlake Office
Education: Marquette University – California Western School of Law
Member: California State Bar
Joined BM&M in 2017 Of Council

As a college student nearing graduation, Michael McDonald wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do in life. He would graduate from Marquette University with a degree in political science and a German minor, and could have gone in several directions. After conversations with friends and colleagues at school, he opted to join the Peace Corps.

"My roommate and I applied and were nominated for postings with the Peace Corps. I was going to go to Morocco, and he was going to go to Malawi," says McDonald looking back. "We were young and wanted to save the world."

It was a good thought, he recalls, but while is roommate was successfully shipped off to Africa, Mike's nomination for the post in Morocco was given to another nominee. Undeterred, he still wanted to see the world, if not save it.

"I had a friend who was going to Arizona State, and I'd never been west, so I caught a bus and rode out to Tempe. It was 48 hours of zoo-like interest. I loved the adventure and I never looked back."

It turned out, he liked Arizona, and decided to stay awhile. His first job there was laying cable for a television company ("digging ditches") with a rag-tag group of bikers. The job paid $5 per hour.

"I actually loved that job," says Mike. "The biker guys were tough, and the work was hard, but I kept my head down and had fun with it."

After a stint in the ditch digging business, Mike did some traveling and got a job at The Tropicana in Las Vegas as a juggler. "I could juggle and the pay was better than what I'd been making. It was a lot less physical in nature."

As a college grad, he had other options, of course, and after a time, he decided to apply to Law School. When his application to California Western School of Law was accepted, he packed his bags and continued his journey west.

"I'd never been to California, and didn't know what to expect. I found I liked it very much, and I also found a career path that was both fun and rewarding."

Upon graduation, Mike received a fellowship with Legal Services Corporation, where he helped indigent renters, as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow.

"It was challenging work," he recalls. "Sometimes the clients created their own victimization and I had to sort through some who were deadbeats. I had some who were homeless and I would have to go out and visit them under a bridge or in a riverbank. But I was busy."

Following his tenure at Legal Services, Mike joined a law firm specializing in disability law in San Diego, California. It was where he became acquainted with Workers' Compensation Law. He later switched to defense Workers' Compensation and managed an office in Northern California. He made partner there before starting his own firm--McDonald Law in 2001.

"I worked on the applicant/claimant side for many years with a focus on Social Security Disability and legal aid, and I've seen all kinds of applicants," says Mike. "I decided to focus on Workers' Comp. I like it because it is a no fault system, unlike the winner-take-all forum of Civil Law."

He based his new firm in Northern California and excelled at Workers' Comp defense cases. His experience in working with a variety of clients during his time at Legal Services and at the disability firm brought him a keen sense of honesty in the defense arena.

Mike became a well-known as a speaker for many organizations in the Workers' Compensation area, and is past President of the Northern California Workers' Compensation Defense Association. He has penned many articles for Getmedlegal.com, wcwebzine, Quinlan Publication and Skeet Shooting Magazine.

"I believe that it is our duty to reach fair and equitable decisions for our clients and for the injured workers," says Mike. "I believe that the injured workers should get what they are entitled to, but nothing more. If they lied about important facts, such as injury in court, then I will try and squish them like a bug. The system depends upon integrity of the participants."

It was this type of mission mentality that led him to becoming acquainted with the partners at Benthale, McKibbin and McKnight.

"I've known the partners for more than 20 years," says Mike. "We've shared cases and offices and have always had a great working relationship."

That relationship got closer in 2017, when he integrated his firm with Benthale, McKibbin and McKnight.

"I had always wanted a presence in Southern California," says Mike. "I had also made the investment in technology to move my firm to a paperless filing system. When my friends at Benthale, McKibbin and McKnight saw what I was able to do with the new system, they immediately wanted in, and the end result was the present integration, which is a win-win for all involved."

Today, Mike serves as Of Counsel at Benthale, McKibbin and McKnight at the Concord Office, although with the new paperless system he can work from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Away from the office, Mike enjoys outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and golf. He is Life Member of the California Water Fowl Association and a Past President of the Bay Point Rod and Gun Club. He is also a registered skeet shooter ("although I'm not that good"). He is also a bit of a linguist, learning to speak Spanish, German and French.

"I look forward to working with the great group of attorneys at the Benthale firm and providing our clients the best, and most streamlined, Workers Comp Defense available anywhere," says Mike. "We have a great team, and a great future ahead."