James H. French

Direct Line: (415) 597-7813

Fax: (415) 243-8200


Mr. French has successfully tried over 200 civil cases, primarily for financial institutions and commercial businesses. He has handled jury and non-jury trials in both state and federal court, as well as arbitrations and appeals. In addition, he is particularly effective in negotiating cases to conclusion through mediation and settlement, saving clients both time and money in over 2,000 commercial cases. His cases have involved bank foreclosure liability, creditor’s rights, fraud, bankruptcy, unfair competition, commercial torts, real estate title issues, boundary disputes, easements, and general business disputes. Mr. French advises many individual business owners on formation issues, business practices, contracts, employment law, and leases. He also advises several condominium associations on organizational, management, and operational issues.

Mr. French’s service on many community based Bay Area and San Francisco volunteer organizations includes service as a Director of the University of California Alumni Association. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley (1969), and from Boalt Hall School of Law (1972). He is a member of the Litigation Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the State Bar of California.

Patricia H. Lyon

Direct Line: (415) 597-7849

Fax: (415) 243-8200


Ms. Lyon specializes in commercial loan documentation and workouts, and in enforcement of secured creditor’s rights and remedies in state court actions and bankruptcy proceedings. Ms. Lyon’s commercial loan documentation practice includes multi-state secured transactions ranging from $1,000,000 to $100,000,000. Ms. Lyon has successfully prosecuted hundreds of state court actions to enforce commercial loan documents, obtaining prejudgment writs of attachment and writs of possession in a variety of commercial cases. In addition, Ms. Lyon has successfully obtained the appointment of receivers in State and federal courts to protect security interests in real and personal property, thereby preserving assets and maximizing the return to the secured lender.

Ms. Lyon’s insolvency practice includes protecting creditors’ rights through relief from stay, relief from turnover by court-appointed receivers, and objections to and stipulations for use of cash collateral. In addition, Ms. Lyon has successfully objected to Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 Plans based on lack of feasibility and unfair treatment, defended against cram-downs and preferential transfer and other avoidance actions, and prosecuted non-dischargeability complaints in connection with borrower fraud.

Ms. Lyon graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1986. She is a member of the Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the State Bar of California.

Mary Ellmann Tang

Direct Line: (925) 678-1876


Ms. Tang has been dedicated to assisting creditor clients in solving problems related to bankruptcy and commercial litigation, loan workouts, restructuring, collections and other creditor/debtor matters since 1991. Her 25 years of experience in all of the federal district bankruptcy courts in California, as well as state courts, enables her clients to pursue options, negotiate positions, and obtain desired results in an efficient and cost-effective manner. She has effectively represented her clients in thousands of cases, providing practical recommendations and advocating solutions that are individually matched to each client’s needs. By emphasizing straight-forward advice and open communication with clients, fees are minimized and results are enhanced.

Ms. Tang is currently on the Board of the Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section of the Contra Costa Bar Association. She is a long time member of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California, as well as the Bay Area Bankruptcy Foundation. In addition to her legal commitments, Ms. Tang has been serving on education boards for more than a decade.

Prior to joining French Lyon Tang, Ms. Tang had her own law practice as wells as practicing with the firms of Grimes & Tang and Tobin & Tobin doing commercial and bankruptcy litigation.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, obtained her Master’s Degree from Claremont Graduate University, and graduated from the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley in 1991.

Michael C. Starkey

Direct Line: (415) 597-7816

Fax: (415) 243-8200


Mr. Starkey joined French Lyon Tang in January 2016.  A seasoned litigator, Mr. Starkey has secured awards of up to $2.5 million and has successfully negotiated hundreds of settlements in his primary practice areas of commercial litigation, legal ethics, and employment law.Mr. Starkey a certified mediator and currently serves as a volunteer mediator for Community Boards in San Francisco and the Center For Human Development in Contra Costa County.

Prior to joining French Lyon Tang, Mr. Starkey represented law firms in federal and state courts, as well as before AAA, JAMS, ADR Services, and local bar associations in connection with professional fee disputes.  Mr. Starkey has also successfully represented commercial clients in a variety of commercial matters.

During law school, Mr. Starkey served as a judicial extern to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Pro Se Department, and the California Office of Administrative Hearings.

Mr. Starkey received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003 and was awarded his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2007, and

Mr. Starkey is a member of the State Bar of California and is admitted to practice before all the courts in the State of California, including the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Courts for the Central, Eastern, and Northern Districts of California.  Mr. Starkey is an active member of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Legal Ethics Committee.


Mary Woodward

Direct Line: (415) 597-7833

Fax: (415) 243-8200


Ms. Woodward is a litigation paralegal who is experienced in dealing with the nuances of many and varied local court rules and procedures in state and federal courts throughout California. She is adept at expediting court filings and case management. Ms. Woodward has developed extensive form files and contacts over the years to bring cost savings to clients.

Ms. Woodward graduated from the San Francisco State University, Paralegal Studies Program. She is a member of the San Francisco Paralegal Association.