Ariel Belen

Hon. Ariel E. Belen (Ret.), FCIArb

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator, Referee/Special Master, Neutral Evaluator

Case Manager
Burton King
T: 212-607-2758
F: 212-751-4099
620 Eighth Ave., 34th Floor, New York, NY 10018


Hon. Ariel E. Belen (Ret.), FCIArb joined JAMS in 2012 after nearly 18 years of judicial service to the State of New York in both the trial and appellate parts. Justice Belen helped create the Commercial Division in Kings County (Brooklyn) and then presided over complex commercial cases from 2002 to 2005. He sat in the Appellate Division, Second Department before joining JAMS.

Justice Belen presided over many construction matters as both trial and appellate judge. He has continued to work in the construction practice area as a mediator and arbitrator at JAMS.

Justice Belen is fluent in Spanish and can effectively communicate with Spanish speaking litigants and clients.

Download Justice Belen's biography in Spanish

Representative Matters

Since joining JAMS in 2012, Judge Belen has acted as a mediator or arbitrator in a wide range of construction disputes, including:

  • Mediated dispute between adjacent owner and a developer over claims that the developer failed to obtain proper permitting and installed faulty underpinning and shoring during foundation excavation of a 150 room hotel causing extensive property damage
  • Mediated dispute between a subcontractor retained to design and fabricate architectural precast concrete walls and its sub subcontractor who was hired to perform temporary storing, shunting, unloading, rigging, and installation of the precast walls at an iconic sports stadium in New York City
  • Mediated dispute between condominium board and sponsor, selling agent, successor agent, architect, and general contractor over claims of misrepresentations made in the offering plan and promotional materials, and improper construction of the building. Sponsor filed a third-party complaint against several contractors and engineers who in turn filed actions against several other subcontractors for a total of 17 parties that participated in the mediation
  • Mediated dispute between a public community college and contractor retained to complete façade restoration over work performed on eight campus buildings with claims of shoddy work, extensive delays, and failure to submit certified payrolls and waste management reports as per the contract and state law
  • Mediated dispute between a general contractor engaged to complete the construction of a new 8-story condominium development in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and owner/developer over delay claims and non-payment of change orders
  • Mediated dispute between state authority and major international construction firm involving installation/replacement of an antiquated HVAC system in a large government facility
  • Mediated dispute between major national restaurant chain and general contractor over delays and unpaid charge orders during construction of iconic location in Lower Manhattan
  • Mediated dispute between buyers of a luxury condominium in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and the sponsor and developer over claims that the unit was uninhabitable due to water infiltration caused by faulty construction
  • Mediated construction defect case involving the installation of a HVAC system with an alleged faulty functionality in a Midtown Manhattan hotel
  • Arbitrated construction defect matter involving damages resulting from burst plumbing in a New York landmark hotel converted into luxury condominiums
  • Chaired breach of contract arbitration involving independent contractor providing business consulting services to a general contractor
  • Mediated case involving claims arising from a freeze-up and water leakage of a pipe located in an apartment building
  • Mediated construction defect case involving a dispute between a major hotel conglomerate and the manufacturers and installers of heat pump units in guest rooms
  • Mediated breach of contract claims in a condominium conversion
  • Mediated the collapse of a commercial building during construction of an adjacent luxury hotel in lower Manhattan
  • Mediated dispute between luxury high rise apartment developer, general contractor, and subcontractors relating to unfinished work, change orders, and claimed defects
  • Med/Arb involving construction defects in a luxury Manhattan condominium building
  • Mediated disputes between owner, construction manager, general contractor, subcontractors, and second tier subcontractors centered around the construction of a high rise luxury building
  • Mediated dispute involving construction defects and zoning restrictions in a luxury condominium building converted from a commercial printing press building
  • Mediated dispute between owner and construction manager involving delays in construction of a thirty-one unit ground-up luxury condominium development with parking garage
  • Mediated dispute between owner, general contractor, and subcontractor concerning rust and corrosion on installed balconies and railings in high rise luxury development
  • Select Honors 
    • Chambers Band Two Mediator, Chambers and Partners, 2022
    • Recipient, Cornell University Franklin H. T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, 2022
    • Latino Lawyer of the Year, Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County, 2019
    • New York State Bar Association Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, Tenth Anniversary Award, 2002
    • William Goldstein Memorial Award, Association of Law Secretaries of the Supreme and Surrogate’s Courts, 2007
    • Hon. John Carro Award for Judicial Excellence, Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage, 2010
    • Puerto Rican Bar Association Award Recipient, 2007
    • Saint Thomas More Award, Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kings County, 2007
    • Jurist of the Year Award, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, 2005
  • Memberships
    • Member, Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, June 2020-present
    • Member, New York City Bar Association (NYCBA), International Commercial Disputes Committee, April 2018-present
    • Co-Chair, New York State Bar Asssociation (NYSBA), Dispute Resolution Section Legislative Committee, April 2018-present
    • Member, Judicial Task Force on the New York State Constitution, July 2016-present
    • Member, CPR Advisory Council: International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution Panel of Distinguished Neutrals, 2013-Present
    • Member, Board of Advisors, Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, December 2015-Present
    • Chair, ADR Committee, New York County Lawyers Association, 2013-2016
    • Member, New York State Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh and Thirteenth Judicial Districts
    • Member, Committee on Character and Fitness, Appellate Division, First Department, Supreme Court of the State of New York
    • Member, Cornell University Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations, 2013-2017
    • Vice Chair, Cornell University Council, 1998-2010
    • Life Member, Cornell University Council, 1996-present
    • Member, New York State Bar Association, Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, Executive Committee
    • Member, Task Force on Judicial Selection, Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)
  • Professional Activities
    • Co-chair, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Section, HNBA, 2020-present
    • Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators (CCA), 2020-present
    • Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS
    • Member, Judicial Task Force on the New York State Constitution, July 2016-present
    • Fellow, Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource Center
    • Vice Chair, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission on Minorities, New York State Unified Court System, 1998-2015
    • Founding Member, The Cervantes Society, 1996-present
    • Member, Task Force to Implement the New York State Unified Court System’s Program on the Profession and the Courts Subcommittee on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Subcommittee on Part 130 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator, 1996-1997
    • Member, Cornell Latino Alumni Association
  • Publication
    • Co-author along with Edward Birnbaum and Carl Grasso, New York Trial Notebook, (James Publishing, 2008) (supplemented annually), an 850-page comprehensive practice treatise for the trial of a civil case in New York
  • Lectures and Teaching
    • Panelist, Civil CLE Program, "ADR in the Private Sector," Association of Law Secretaries to Supreme and Surrogates' Court, October 2019
    • Speaker, CLE Program, “Commercial Arbitration Training for Arbitrators and Counsel,” Dispute Resolution Section—New York State Bar Association, June 2019
    • Panelist, Global Pound Conference, Guatemala City 2017
    • Presented to the Federal Bar Council at the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, "Effective Techniques in Mediation Advocacy," March 2016
    • Presented to a delegation of attorneys from the Japanese Medical Malpractice Information Center, “Medical Malpractice Mediation in New York,” JAMS, 2014
    • Moderator, Constructive Perspectives,"Are New York's Construction Safety and Insurance Laws Serving the Public?", New York City Bar Association, March 2014
    • Moderator, CLE Program, "Effective Techniques in Mediation Advocacy," JAMS, February 2013
    • Speaker, "2013 CPLR Update: 2012-2013 Major Appellate Decisions," Colombian Lawyers Association, April 2013
    • Moderator, "Effective Techniques in Mediation Advocacy," Asian American Bar Association of New York, April 2013
    • Moderator, "Bootcamp for Lawyers: The Ultimate Trial Clinic," New York State Trial Lawyers Institute, May 2013
    • Served as a member of the New York State Unified Court System Civil Law Curriculum Development Committee and taught for many years at the New York State Judicial Institute
    • Cornell Extern and Shadow Programs and the Brooklyn Law School Judicial Clerkship Clinical Program. Clinical programs at Hofstra Law School, Brooklyn Law School, and St. John’s University Law School
  • Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department, Supreme Court of the State of New York, 2008-2012
  • Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, 1995-2012
    • Administrative Judge, Civil Term, Supreme Court, Kings County, 2007-2008
    • Associate Justice, Appellate Term, Supreme Court, Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts, 2005-2012
    • Justice of the Commercial Division, Supreme Court of the State of New York, 2002-2005
  • Chief, Bronx Borough Office, City of New York Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, Tort Division, 1994-1995
  • Deputy Chief, Brooklyn Tort Division, City of New York Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, 1993-1994
  • Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of New York Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, 1990-1993
  • Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Defense Division, 1986-1989
  • Criminal Trial Attorney, Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Defense Division, 1981-1986
  • J.D., with Specialization in International Legal Affairs, Cornell Law School, 1981
  • B.A., cum laude, Brooklyn College, 1978

Counsel Comments

    • “I have practiced throughout the nation for 38 years on both the plaintiff and defendant sides. Judge Belen is, unequivocally, the best mediator I have ever worked with. Judge has a quiet, graceful, low key, patient approach that gets the opposing sides gradually toward a resolution. During the process he makes sure the client is completely and totally heard. He makes sure that the experience is cathartic for the client. Judge Belen slowly, methodically, and tenaciously pulls the opposing sides together with his understated, compassionate approach. His style is not slick nor fancy. But, his approach is steeped with integrity; frankly, you find that you don’t want to disappoint him.”

      - Insurance Coverage Attorney
    • “I have had the privilege of working with Judge Belen on several commercial mediations. During each mediation, he was incredibly well prepared, thoughtful, and creative. I have also recommended Judge Belen to numerous friends and colleagues who have all been very happy with his work ethic, demeanor, and results.”

      - Commercial Litigator
    • “Judge Belen is the consummate professional and a master of his craft. He works tirelessly to resolve a case and educates himself as to the facts and evidence of the matters before him to an incredibly intimate level. In an extremely complex products liability matter with over ten (10) parties, Judge Belen worked to settle the case over the course of several months. His Honor kept working hard on the matter until it resolved for a settlement number that no one thought possible.”

      - Products Liability Litigator



Practice Areas


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