Matthew J. Geyer
Arbitrator | Mediator
Offices in San Francisco and Santa Fe
Proceedings held in California, New Mexico and most Western States

Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators
Past-Board Member, The Mediation Society



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

General Experience

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, trademark and trade dress 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:

  • Real estate cases have included disputes involving both commercial and residential real estate, including dozens of disputes between owners of San Francisco condominiums and tenancy-in-common units, and many cases involving purchase and sale of these and other San Francisco properties under California and San Francisco Association of Realtors form contracts, including issues regarding enforceability or rescission of contracts of sale, non-disclosure of construction, permit and title defects.

  • Technology industry cases have included disputes between early-stage companies and venture capital firms, as well as between licensors and licensees of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property, and misappropriation of trade secrets in this and other contexts.

  • Transportation industry cases have included issues of carrier liability for freight damage, local and regional railways' respective rights and liabilities relating to track charges and other fees under relevant multi-year agreements and over large periods of time.

  • Franchise arbitrations have involved national and regional franchisors and individual and area representative franchisees, in diet center/fitness club, quick service restaurant, printing and mailing retail stores, and other sectors.

  • Intellectual property cases have involved patentability, ownership of copyrights, infringement issues and trade secrets.

  • Securities claims have involved issues of alleged churning, self-dealing and proper measure of damages to portfolios.

  • Health care and medical device cases have included respective rights and responsibilities of chain of operators regarding Medicare payments and other issues.

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.

Arbitration Experience

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:

  • Real Estate: Arbitrated claims between condominium and other owners in developments governed by CC&Rs or TIC agreements; claims relating to development of $12.5M waterfront home in Hawaii; chaired panel determining fair market value of fractional interest in famous waterfront restaurant, and panel determining rights of entities developing regional shopping center; arbitrated fair market rent due under option periods in commercial leases, and cases involving commercial and residential real estate sales and leases.

  • Accounting: Chaired panel adjudicating $200M claims by federal agency receiver of failed bank against Big Four accounting firm, to unanimous award; sole arbitrator in cases between former partners of accountancy firm over final distributions, client list, etc.; claims between accounting technology solutions provider and small business client; cases involving alleged accounting irregularities by insiders.

  • Franchising: Arbitrated $8M claims of franchisees against franchisor of national brand quick service restaurants, to unanimous award; cases involving delicatessen, junk removal, postal shipping and printing, health and fitness, and mobile auto repair franchises.

  • Venture Capital (VC) / Private Equity (PE): Arbitrated $17M+ claims between VC firm and principal of offshore IT portfolio company; $10M dispute between members of PE firm operating portfolio companies in various industries.

  • Information Technology (IT): Chaired panel hearing $3M+ claims by precision marketing software provider v. gaming and hospitality client; arbitrated claims between manufacturer and distributor of schematic design software, and $20+ million claim of patent/trademark infringement by manufacturer of resins used in chip manufacturing facilities.

  • Telecommunications: Arbitrated claims between internet service provider (ISP) and reseller; between telecom consultant and subcontractor over complaints resulting in $2M+ reduction in project revenue; and between cable company and ISP.

  • Entertainment: Chaired panel hearing $5M claims between talent agency and reality television producer, to unanimous award; chaired panel in $50M+ case brought by screenwriter, composer and others against motion picture studio for alleged accounting irregularities affecting profit participation, through discovery phase (settlement followed); various cases arising under publishing contracts.

  • Insurance: Arbitrated claims under employment liability policy for settlement payments made to former executive; claims by owners under title insurance policies, and by farmers under federal crop loss policies; mediated many cases defended with reservation of rights under various coverages.

  • Securities / Financial Advisors: Chaired panel hearing $3.5M investor claims arising from leveraged municipal bond arbitrage fund; panelist in $5M+ case between former partners in stock and index trading firm, and $1+M case against financial advisor alleging failure to diversify.

  • Healthcare: Chaired panel determining liabilities of manufacturer and acquirer of medical device line for patient injuries, and panel arbitrating claims between hospital operator and local healthcare district; arbitrated claims between buyers and sellers of MRI center, dialysis center, and vision correction practice; mediated claims between commercial parties for payments due under Medicare 340B drug program, and provision of durable medical equipment.

  • Miscellaneous / Agriculture: Cases involving wills and trusts, casino operations, winery operations, vineyard output contracts, damage to wine grapes, corn, rice and alfalfa hay crops.

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.

Professional Licenses

Admitted to the Bar, California, 1985.

Professional Associations

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 $500 per hour, with minimum three hours preparation time and eight hours session time.

Arbitrations are $500 per hour (hearing and study time). Hourly rate is discounted to $450 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.

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Matthew J. Geyer
Arbitrator | Mediator
Offices in San Francisco and Santa Fe
Proceedings held in California, New Mexico and most Western States

Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators
Past-Board Member, The Mediation Society