Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators
Work History in Law
Geyer Law and ADR, 2003-present; Shareholder, Rogers Joseph O'Donnell & Quinn, 2000-2003; Partner and Litigation Department Chair, Landels, Ripley & Diamond, 1985-2000
Complex commercial litigation and ADR practice in San Francisco since 1985, including breach of contract, business tort and statutory claims arising under operating, consulting, licensing and franchise agreements involving corporations, partnerships and joint ventures; and under contracts for the purchase and sale of businesses, and commercial and residential real estate; copyright and trademark infringement, and misappropriation of trade secrets; art auctions and art authentication; securities class and individual actions; the termination or other separation of key employees, shareholders or partners; and cases arising under the UCC, including sale of goods and leased equipment.
Experience as a Mediator
Have mediated cases involving large corporations, sprawling partnerships, and very small businesses, with individuals, insurance carriers, and all manner of counsel involved. Representative cases include dozens involving purchase-and-sale of commercial or residential real estate, many under California or San Francisco Association of Realtors form contracts and involving adequacy of disclosures of defects in permits, title or construction; leasing of commercial or residential real estate, and related tenant issues; disputes between intellectual property owners, licensors and licensees, involving payments under or extensions of such contracts; intra-family ownership disputes, including trusts and estates litigation; attorney-client disputes regarding billing, adequacy of disclosures, malpractice and standard of care. Amounts at issue have ranged from under $10,000 to many millions of dollars and future revenue streams.
Since 2004, have mediated over 250 cases. Examples include:
Mediation Philosophy and Approach
I have successfully mediated cases in which the parties refused to sit in the same room, either before or after settlement was reached; and cases in which settlement was reached following a joint session we stuck with nearly the whole day. But usually, after checking in with counsel separately, I start with a joint session, stick with it as long as fruitful information and other exchange is occurring, and then conduct private sessions and proceed with offer and counteroffers. I sometimes reconvene joint sessions, in the middle of an afternoon of private sessions, to facilitate direct exchanges of information or viewpoints.
One thing I will not do is lie—to either side, or both—about my views on the merits of the case; I will not tell both sides they have a bad case in hopes of gaining settlement leverage. Rather, I share my honest views with all sides, if asked, and usually do it in private session because it's just more constructive that way in most cases. There is generally enough in the way of unpredictability of outcome for negotiating to make sense for both sides. Another thing I never do is give up when we reach impasse—that's the real beginning of the negotiation, and there are several methods I employ to move us past it, sometimes all in one case by the time we reach settlement. And in these final stages, I will not make a mediator's proposal without obtaining both parties' consent to do so. It's the parties' mediation, not the mediator's, and passing into that realm involves enough transference of control that both sides should be consulted and consent before going there.
The role of the parties varies with the kind of case, and the sophistication and interest of the parties. Sometimes they want to stay out of it, in joint session and even in private session; sometimes they need to participate actively at all stages. My role is to accommodate their interests in this regard, when that's practical and conducive to progress; and to coax them beyond their comfort zone when their level of active participation needs to change for us to continue to make progress.
Commercial arbitrator since 1991. Served in over 325 cases, 160 to award, and 60 Large and Complex Cases; as mediator in over 250 cases (and med-arb in one). Chaired panel of three neutral arbitrators in 20 cases. Examples include:
Publications and Speaking Engagements
Panelist, International Mediation Institute Global Pound Conference, San Francisco, February 2017; Co-Author, "Arbitrating Real Estate Industry Disputes," College of Commercial Arbitrators, Winter 2017; Author, "Mediator's Proposals: If, When, How", Mediator's Corner, The Mediation Society, January 2016; Sole Presenter, "Interim Awards, Partial Final Awards and Functus Officio: Tailoring Flexible Accessories to Suit a Strict Doctrine," AAA Webinar, 2014; Panelist, "Effective Advocacy in Arbitration," California State Bar Conference, 2014; Panelist, "Conducting Effective and Efficient Arbitrations," California State Bar Conference, 2010; Co-Presenter, "What Trial Lawyers Know (and Don't) About Trying Commercial Cases to Arbitrators," California State Bar Conference, 2008; Presenter, "So That's How They Do It Around Here: Procedural Issues in Commercial Arbitrations," Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF), 2008; Author, "Drafting Effective Mediation Clauses," BASF, 2008; Panelist, "Maximizing Results in Mediation," BASF, 2007; Co-Presenter, "Ten Things Not to Do in Mediation," BASF, 2005; Presenter, "Discovery in Commercial Arbitrations - Scope and Strategy," BASF, 2003; Panelist; Author, "Picking Up a Plaintiff's Pen: Drafting Complaints in Civil Litigation," CEB Civil Litigation Reporter, May 1993, reprinted in Forum, a publication of the California Trial Lawyers' Association, September 1993.
Admitted to the Bar, California, 1985.
Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators; Board of Directors, The Mediation Society; State Bar of California, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (2007- 10); Edward J. McFetridge American Inn of Court (Past Executive Board Member and Program Chair)
California State University Northridge (BA, Philosophy, Summa cum Laude, 1982); Hastings College of the Law (JD, Magna cum Laude, Order of the Coif, Hastings Law Journal Executive Board, 1985).
All mediations are $425 per hour, with minimum three hours preparation time and eight hours session time.
Arbitrations are $475 per hour (hearing and study time). Hourly rate is discounted to $425 for arbitrations with less than $1 million in controversy.
If mediation or arbitration is cancelled or postponed within 30 days of scheduled date (or for cases set for three days or more of hearing, if cancelled or postponed within 45 days of scheduled hearing start date), a cancellation fee of six hours per reserved hearing date applies unless reserved dates can be rebooked. Cases in San Francisco Bay Area (including Sacramento, Santa Rosa, San Jose, Oakland and East Bay) mediated or arbitrated without travel time or expense charges. Cases outside this area heard with travel expenses capped at $300 per day. Travel time not spent productively working on the case is never charged.