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Tom Harold Elke

Landlord or tenant Attorney at San Francisco, CA

4.9   9 reviews
  • Licensed for 18 years
    State CA
    Acquired 2005
    Active No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Tom

Learn Tom’s areas of practice.

A San Francisco native, Mr. Elke has counseled thousands of Bay Area residents on tenant law and renters-rights issues. For the past four years, Mr. Elke has been recognized as a Northern California “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers Magazine. He has also been named an Outstanding Volunteer Attorney by the San Francisco Bar Association’s Volunteer Legal Services Program.  Mr. Elke received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 2001 and his law degree from University of California, Los Angeles in 2005. While in law school, Mr. Elke was active in the El Centro legal aid program and received an Imelda Rosenthal Bar Scholarship for Public Interest Law from the California State Bar.  He has helped clients secure millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements and has personally tried over twenty-five jury trials to verdict.

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Elke & Merchant LLP
870 Market Street
Suite 1170
San Francisco, CA, 94102

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4.9 / 5.0
  9 customer reviews
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1 Star
Posted by anonymous | September 17, 2020
This review is from a potential client who consulted with this attorney.
| Consulted Attorney
Thorough and Thoughtful
Tom is considerate, thorough, and thoughtful in his consultations. He is prompt in his follow up, and sincere in his approach, allowing for succinct and helpful advice, whether you hire him or not. Great attorney.
Posted by Herlinda | March 25, 2014
A Rare & Outstanding Attorney
Tom Elke has been my primary source of knowledge, direction, and wisdom during two evictions I dealt with regarding a foreclosed single family home I partially rented. When I initially spoke to him, I immediately discerned his intent was to help me compared to the previous lawyers I spoke to. Against the advice of all other attorneys, he respected my intent to fight for my right and generously gave me the time, advise, and strategy to represent myself as pro per. And guess what? I won! Against a bank. There is NO WAY I would have done it without Tom's help. That said, Tom knows his stuff. I lost a lawsuit I perused totally against his advise. I was humiliated by the judge for disregarding Tom's advise, but I accept that I was wrong and Tom was right in all regards when he said "you can't". He's thorough, kind, generous, and kick-your-teeth-in direct. You may not like what he has to say sometimes, but he's the BEST lawyer I have ever worked with. Though his paid services as a counselor are limited, I recommend him for both attorney and counselor.
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Posted by darren | March 6, 2014
Tom Elke
I called Tom for advice when my landlord sent me a 60-day notice to terminate my tenancy. He's been extremely responsive, thoughtful, and reassuring. During my free consultation he poured over the details of multiple legal documents and gave me specific, actionable advice. His guidance has helped me navigate through this challenging time.
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Posted by Lisa Marie | February 23, 2014
Superb with a smile
Tom Elke is a superb lawyer. I sought counseltation when opening a small business recently. He was extremely knowledgable and was always quick to reply to any questions or concerns I had. He is thorough, sharp, and professional.
Posted by Eden | February 13, 2014
Super Lawyer
Mr. Elke is a very professional in his field and is a straight forward lawyer. I was very satisfied having such a knowledgeable lawyer on my side who was able to drive the process to successful results.
Posted by Gina | January 31, 2014
Top Notch Attorney
Tom Elke is top notch. He kept me well-informed of every development in my case. He was aggressive to the very end, resulting in the best possible outcome. Tom Elke is by far the best tenant attorney in San Francisco.
Posted by Joe | December 10, 2013
Don't litigate without him!
In spite of the fact that Tom is incredibly likeable, personable and charming, he is nevertheless a shark in the in the traditional and most effective sense. I have personally observed him making opposing counsel appear foolish, confused and generally silly. If you have need to stand before a judge, Tom is your best bet to get a positive result. I’ve dealt with several attorneys through the years and can unequivocally state that Tom is among the finest I have had the misfortune to meet. Highly recommended!
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Posted by anonymous | November 2, 2013
Superb Attorney
Tom was of great help and support in my unlawful detainer case. My master tenant/landlord had hired a high profile lawyer to evict me. I needed someone very aggressive and charismatic to have a chance to prevail. Tom and Alex Merchant were always very prompt to answer my questions. They both attended the settlement conference to great results. I was able to keep my accommodation for two more months and was compensated beyond my expectation. Also my case was successfully resealed with no future penalty. I highly recommend Tom Elke and his partner Alex Merchant. They are very professional, knowledgeable and honest.
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Posted by anonymous | February 4, 2014
Residential Eviction Unlawful Detainer Tenant Rights Landlord Problems
Mr. Elke represented me in an eviction case in San Francisco in December 2013. Working through the Eviction Defense Coalition, he did a fine job of understanding my position and conveying it to the opposite side, who withdrew their case, without even a settlement agreement. He gave good advice as to what I should and shouldn't do and what results were realistic. He followed up with advice on my landlord's subsequent actions, such as a garage eviction attempt with no causes stated, much less the required just cause(s). On Mr. Elke's advice, a quick trip the the Rent Board put an end to this attempt.
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  • Free Consultation 20 minutes
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card


AVVO RATING 10.0 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Partner
  • Elke & Merchant
  • 2013 - Present
  • Of Counsel
  • Tobener Law Center
  • 2011 - 2013


  • University of California - Los Angeles
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 2005
  • Harvard University
  • AB - Bachelor's Degree
  • 2001

Sample of Legal Cases

  • Confidential Settlement
  • $290,000
  • Confidential Settlement
  • $233,000 settlement
  • Confidential Settlement
  • $140,000 settlement
View all legal cases


  • Aids Legal Referral Panel
  • Volunteer Attorney
  • 2013 - Present
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
  • Member
  • 2013 - Present
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • Member
  • 2011 - Present
  • San Francisco Tenant's Union
  • Counselor
  • 2011 - Present
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Russian

Honors and Awards

  • Rising Star
  • SuperLawyers
  • 2016
  • Rising Star
  • SuperLawyers
  • 2015
  • Outstanding Volunteer in Public Service Award
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • 2014
  • Volunteer Appreciation
  • AIDS Legal Referral Panel
  • 2014
  • Rising Star
  • SuperLawyers
  • 2014
  • Rising Star
  • SuperLawyers
  • 2013
  • Outstanding Volunteer Attorney
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • 2013
  • Rising Star
  • Super Lawyers
  • 2012
View all awards

Attorney endorsements

Received (5)
Given (2)
Endorse Tom
Residential real estate Attorney | Nov 14
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer, because Tom Elke is a great attorney and a very classy person. He is brave, generous and competent."
Landlord or tenant Attorney | Oct 22
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Mr. Elke is an experienced and well-respected attorney. His valuable knowledge and experience with tenants' rights in the Bay Area makes him an exceptional advocate for his clients. I strongly endorse him."
Landlord or tenant Attorney | Oct 08
Relationship: Co-worker
"Tom Elke is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I have ever known in my life."
Landlord or tenant Attorney | May 05
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I wholeheartedly endorse this lawyer. Tom and I worked on the same floor and I've spoken and consulted with him and his partner Alex Merchant on many things. He is knowledgeable, outspoken, and a passionate advocate. He and Alex are the first people I would go to in a Landlord Tenant dispute."
Landlord or tenant Attorney | Nov 18
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"Tom is a tenacious trial attorney well versed in the intricacies of the law. I've worked with Tom on a number of matters and he consistently provides the highest levels of service for his clients."
Landlord or tenant
Personal injury