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Hon. William J. Cahill

Hon. William J. Cahill (Ret.)

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Civil Rights
Class Action & Mass Tort
Cybersecurity & Privacy
Employment Law
Energy & Utilities
Engineering & Construction
Entertainment & Sports
Environmental Law
Estate Probate Trusts
Federal Law
Financial Markets
Health Care
Intellectual Property
International & Cross-Border
Personal Injury
Professional Liability
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. William Cahill (Ret.) is a reputable and sought-after neutral throughout the country who regularly travels to hear cases. He has successfully mediated and arbitrated thousands of cases, including business and contract disputes, securities matters, class actions, insurance, real property, engineering and infrastructure, employment, intellectual property, and legal and other professional malpractice matters. 

Prior to becoming a full time neutral in 2000, Judge Cahill spent nearly ten years as a judge in San Francisco County Superior Court and before that he was a partner and a trial lawyer at a top law firm. His experience gives him unique insight into how alternative dispute resolution can be used to resolve matters efficiently and effectively.

Judge Cahill has been regularly included on the "National Mediators" List, Chambers USA since 2017. The 2021 Edition of the Guide notes that Judge Cahill "is a good listener, carefully reads all the submissions, thoughtfully guides the process and works hard to settle matters." 

Judge Cahill is known nationally for his preparation, adaptability, fairness and neutrality. He has an ability to relate to all participants in a case—the lawyers and their clients. He is patient with parties and clients laud him for his ability to quickly grasp complex facts prior to the commencement of proceedings and for his creative settlement ideas that lead to closure.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Renowned across the country as an effective and savvy neutral, and consistently recognized as one of the top neutrals in the Bay Area as well as California by various surveys and legal publications

  • Over 15 years of experience as a full time neutral handling mediations and arbitrations of complex cases

  • San Francisco Superior Court Law & Motion and Writs & Receivers Judge for four years, and Settlement and Trial Judge for eight years

  • Designated liaison for seven years for the court's committee to construct the San Francisco Civic Center Courthouse

  • Specialized in complex litigation and construction law while in private practice. He represented architects, engineers, owners, and contractors both in litigation and as outside corporate counsel 

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Arbitrated contract dispute related to purchase and sale of steam, water, and hydrogen manufacturing facility and the provision of services between adjacent facilities 
      • Mediated commercial dispute between two global companies over the scope of an audit clause in a supply agreement that permits either party to ensure that the other is complying with contractual obligations
      • Mediated business dispute related to investment structure of bridge note purchased from a Chinese company through a global trading firm
      • Served as chair of a three-panel arbitration for a dispute between a radio broadcasting company and a high tech search engine company that acquired it
      • Mediated case between a construction company and port authority of an island over allegedly unauthorized tariffs and penalty fines
      • Serves as arbitrator frequently in post-resolution attorney fee disputes
      • Mediated and arbitrated multiple franchise disputes involving issues such as breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and bankruptcy
      • Mediated numerous high technology licensing disputes, involving technology such as software, hardware, biotech and pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.  Disputes involved issues of lost profits and royalties 
      • Mediated cases involving dissolution of businesses and partnerships and underlying securities, stock and payout issues
      • Mediated dispute involving two shareholders of a small corporation in which one of the shareholders formed a new, competing business and allegedly use the original company’s trade secrets and breached the original contract and breached fiduciary duties
  • Civil Rights
      • Mediated a case involving a wrongful imprisonment suit filed by a person whose murder conviction was set aside by a federal judge after he served 11 years in State Prison.  Navigated through intense emotional, legal and political issues in order to reach a settlement that was paid over time to insure the plaintiff had sufficient income for the rest of his life
      • Mediated a case against a municipality and a lead investigator for wrongful conviction arising out of suppression of evidence
      • Mediated numerous ADA cases
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
      • Mediated a unique class action case regarding county-provided high school-level educational programs for inmates held in a county Juvenile Hall. Facilitated a non-monetary settlement in the form of an agreement as to the appropriate quality of educational programs that were to be offered to young inmates
      • Mediated a class action involving consumer claims of defects in electronic devices
      • Mediated a consumer class action involving allegations of violations of privacy as well as antitrust and unfair competition
      • Mediated several class actions brought by consumers over the expiration dates on gift cards
  • Construction
      • Mediation of a $10m + dispute over design and construction of a major hospital. Mediation took 2 months before resolution. 
      • Claims adjudicator for $100m construction of a San Francisco high rise and adjudicated a changed condition claim re rock excavation on site and a delay claim. 
      • Sole arbitrator re design and construction of a elderly care facility in East Bay. Probably $50m + of disputes between the owner, design professional and owner.  
      • Sole arbitrator in construction dispute regarding upgrade of a security system installed in a Northern California prison. 
      • Mediation of a construction dispute regarding renovation of a Nevada power plant. Several sessions over two months. 
      • Sole arbitrator re construction disputes between buyers and developers of luxury homes in the Napa Valley.
  • Employment Law
      • Arbitrate and mediate wide variety of employment disputes including all types of harassment, wrongful termination, and retaliation and whistleblower allegations
      • Mediated numerous wage and hour class actions, involving issues of overtime misclassification, meal and rest period violations and unpaid wages
      • Mediated numerous wrongful termination cases involving executives as well as counter claims of theft of trade secrets
      • Mediated post-acquisition employment disputes between executives and acquiring company
  • Entertainment & Sports
      • Arbitrated business dispute between a sports franchise and their stadium owners regarding claims of $7 to 8 million of alleged rent owed and contract dispute about capital improvements to stadium
      • Mediated a series of related large investment fraud disputes involving several celebrities alleging mis-management of investments.  Case had criminal implications as well as civil damages issues
      • Mediated multiple contract disputes between well-known musicians and their managers
      • Mediated several disputes involving sports stadiums and related contract obligations, tax issues and ownership disputes
  • Financial Markets
      • Mediated a stockholder derivative suit involving allegations related to the purchase of 100 million shares of a public company by alleged private insiders for less than a fair market price
      • Mediated dispute over alleged manipulation of stock valuation in a management buyout (MBO) by a national brokerage firm
      • Mediated a case involving breach of fiduciary duty claim against a hedge fund for failure to liquidate to avoid a $50 million loss
      • Mediated class action brought by stockholders regarding stock devaluation due to restatement of allegedly fraudulent financials
  • Health Care
      • Mediated a false claim case between the state insurance commissioner and a health care provider that settled for over $40 million
      • Several arbitrations between carriers and hospital chains regarding billing
      • Multi-million dollar settlement in a case between two health care providers regarding emergency room charges where there was no contract
      • Mediated an ObamaCare matter between a state's Department of Justice and a major health care provider
      • Heard several nursing home cases regarding the staffing of nurses
      • Several arbitrations interpreting contracts between hospitals regarding their chart of account contracts
      • Mediated qui tam action regarding alleged false billing for services provided by insufficiently credentialed personnel
      • Arbitrated multi-million breach of contract dispute regarding reimbursement fees between nonprofit health care system and leading Pharmacy Benefit Manager
      • Mediated class action alleging leading post acute care services provider failed to meet daily nurse hours staffing requirements for all residents
      • Mediated qui tam action brought by State alleging operator of numerous health system facilities of submitting false, fraudulent, or misleading bills to insurers for anesthesia services. The suit also alleges named PPO networks of aiding and abetting violations by restricting insurers’ ability to audit claims
  • Insurance
      • Mediated multi-million dollar coverage case in London between a carrier and its French insured
      • Arbitrated large insurance case arising out of hurricane Katrina between insurance companies and hospitals, involving issues of frequency of occurrences of incidents and related coverage
      • Mediated a large breach of fiduciary duty case between several school and college districts and their insurance broker.  Allegations included lack of expertise in the insurance and reinsurance industries, misappropriation of funds and failure to disclose commissions and other financial benefits that the insurance company was receiving
      • Mediated a series of insurance coverage disputes between a law firm and their insurance carrier
      • Mediated several class actions brought against insurance companies related to methods used by the insurance companies to bill the insured
      • Mediated a series of complicated asbestos cases involving insurance coverage issues
  • Intellectual Property
      • Served as chair of three-panel arbitration of a pharmaceutical licensing dispute that involved issues related to FDA approval of the patented drug
      • Mediated large copyright dispute related to downloading music from the internet
      • Mediated large patent infringement dispute between two large biotech companies over patents on blood-glucose testing devices used by diabetes patients
      • Mediated copyright dispute between global online social gaming company and Brazilian gaming company
      • Mediated patent infringement case involving technology related to the technology that lights laptop screens
      • Arbitrated patent infringement dispute related to hormone enhancement drugs for women
      • Mediated a patent infringement dispute over patents on ingredients used to make tires in Korea
      • Mediated a patent infringement dispute related to ecommerce technology, including allegations of theft of trade secrets
  • Professional Liability
      • Mediated multiple legal malpractice cases involving law firms and their clients, including universities, and construction companies, among others.  Cases involved issues of breach of fiduciary duty, standards of care, breach of contract, and some involved counterclaims for unpaid fees
      • Mediated numerous accounting malpractice disputes arising out of the recession and the Madoff scandal
      • Mediated multiple accounting malpractice cases related to improper tax considerations
      • Mediated numerous professional malpractice cases brought against architects and engineers related to failed and defective construction developments
  • Real Property
      • Mediated contract dispute between developers and their lenders related to construction and payments for the development of a condominium complex
      • Arbitrated dispute regarding the partition and sale of a multi-million dollar property in Northern California
      • Mediated dispute between developers and buyers over toxic waste in a residential neighborhood
      • Arbitrated and mediated numerous disputes over purchase and sale agreements for commercial and residential property
      • Sole arbitrator/judge in an infrastructure dispute regarding construction of a commuter train system in the Bay Area
  • Water Rights
      • Mediated water rights matter involving North Basin of the San Francisco Peninsula an aquifer regarding water storage methods of reserves for use during drought, future water pumping limits, and drainage issues
      • Mediated San Francisco West Side Basin water rights matter
      • Mediated Santa Maria water rights matter 

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Included on "National Mediators" list, Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2017-2023
  • Recognized as a Top California Neutral, Daily Journal, 2004, 2005, 2009-2013
  • Recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer, ADR Category, San Francisco Magazine, 2004, 2006-2014
  • Recognized as one of the three Best Neutrals in the Bay Area, through an open survey of attorneys, The Recorder, 2007, 2008, and 2009
  • Recognized as one of the “500 Leading Judges in America,” by Lawdragon Magazine, 2006
  • Recognized as one of the Bay Area's Top 10 Mediators and Top 10 Arbitrators, The Recorder, 2002
  • Chosen as the top judge on the San Francisco Superior Court in a poll published in the San Francisco Examiner; Judge Cahill's settlement skills were noted in the December 14, 1998 article
  • Trial Judge of the Year, San Francisco, 1992
  • Lecturer, international, national, and local speaking engagements including topics related to class actions, mediation, employment, arbitration, insurance, construction, ethics, law and motion practice, expert witnesses, and clause drafting, among others
  • Former Member, Chief Justice Ronald George's Committee to revise the California Civil Jury Instructions
  • Judicial Officer, San Francisco Bar Association Bench Bar Media Committee, 1991-2000
  • Former Member, Board of Directors, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 1996-1998; (In 1994, Judge Cahill was chosen by the ABTL to be an instructor on settlements to both the United States District Court, Northern California and the San Francisco Superior Court benches.)
  • Member, Litigation Section, Bar Association of San Francisco, 2000-present
  • "Reading the Room," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, October 16, 2015

Background and Education

  • Judge, San Francisco County Superior Court, 1991-2000
  • Partner, Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon, 1986-1991
  • J.D., Hastings College of Law, 1979
  • B.S., University of California at Berkeley, 1976


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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