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Meet Madeline Chun!

Madeline Chun
Hanson Bridgett LLP
San Francisco
Member, APTA Board of Directors; chair, Legal Affairs Committee; member, Procurement Steering

Please describe your organization’s scope.
Hanson Bridgett is a law firm based in San Francisco with offices in Sacramento, Marin and Walnut Creek. We have over 150 attorneys. About 15 of us principally represent transit agencies and transportation authorities as general and special counsel. We are specialists in public transit and transportation law and the host of relevant federal and state regulations. Our transit-focused attorneys are a close-knit group. I think Hanson Bridgett is one of the few law firms in the nation that has such a large group focused on public transportation. That’s our niche.

Our public transit clients are also well supported by the firm’s other practice groups, such as labor and employment, environmental and natural resources, employee benefits, insurance, intellectual property, litigation, political and ­election law, real estate, construction and technology. Hanson Bridgett also has a deep commitment to diversity in the legal profession and to pro bono and community service. I happen to be the first attorney of color to become a partner in the firm. We have grown a lot since then. Now 15 percent of partners are persons of color, 34 percent are women and 6 percent are LGBT-identified individuals.

What attracted your interest in public transportation?

I’ve always been a public transit user. When I was four, my mother would say “Let’s go have an adventure,” and we would ride the No. 51 AC Transit bus all over ­Berkeley and Oakland or get dressed up and take the F bus to San Francisco. What a blast!

Public transit and transportation law wasn’t my first job as an attorney, however. I started with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, litigating cases under the nation’s civil rights laws concerning education, housing and equal credit opportunity—all issues that have commonalities with public transportation, which is another way to provide access to opportunity. It’s important to see your work as a way to be in service to the ­public good. Move, laugh and do some good!

Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.
Hanson Bridgett has been affiliated with APTA since the early 1970s. My partner, Dave Miller, now semi-retired, helped form the Legal Affairs Committee, along with some other great lawyers. Our firm served APTA by writing an amicus brief in 1982, to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the pivotal 13(c) labor protection case, Jackson Transit Authority v. Local 1285, Amalgamated Transit Union.We have actively served on the Elderly and Disabled Task Force, the Labor and 13(c) Committee, and the Procurement Standards Task Force, as well as made presentations on topics of interest at APTA meetings, for over 40 years.

I started going to the Legal Affairs Committee as soon as I came to Hanson Bridgett in 1983. I’ve enjoyed broadening my knowledge and getting to know other transit specialists. Fran Hooper (APTA’s longtime liaison to the public transportation business community, now retired) brought me in on the standard bus procurement guidelines project in 2008, and I’ve made presentations at many APTA meetings and conferences. It’s invigorating to get more deeply involved in a project and to get to know diverse professionals in the industry.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?

I think it’s gratifying to have a network of lawyers across the country who share common concerns—that’s a vital part of just keeping up with all the information available, to spot trends and anticipate the future. And the camaraderie is wonderful. We’re thinking about ways to encourage junior attorneys to get involved as we transition from one generation to another.

What do you like most about your industry involvement?

I enjoy the opportunity to share ideas and problem-solve with people who speak the lingo and understand the complexities of the issues from many perspectives.  For example, technology is rapidly changing the way we work—what are the legal and other ramifications of that? How do we protect privacy, public safety and security, yet keep the public’s trust regarding transparency and compliance with disclosure laws, particularly as it pertains to all the data that technology makes available?We’re seeing the impacts of technology on public transportation through electronic fare collection, the coordination of mobility options and new infrastructure systems. It’s very informative to come to APTA meetings to find out what others are thinking about regarding these big issues.

What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?

Lawyers are not to be feared or ignored! People in public transportation are practical problem-solvers already, so they may be surprised to discover that they might need a lawyer. Hanson Bridgett lawyers are very good at being part of their client’s team, helping to address challenges with creativity, efficiency and strategic vision. No outsized egos here!
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