Catherine Gallagher

Hon. Catherine A. Gallagher (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Lisa Midel
T: 408-346-0733
F: 408-295-5267
160 W. Santa Clara St., Suite 1600, San Jose, CA 95113


Hon. Catherine A. Gallagher (Ret.) is a full time neutral at JAMS and has a vast amount of experience mediating estates and probate matters. Prior to becoming a neutral, she was Presiding Judge of the Santa Clara County Superior Court, and handled numerous estate and probate cases during her 25-year judicial career. Based on her experience as supervising judge on the Probate Calendar, she has established herself as a go-to neutrals for estates and probate matters. She is well known for creative solutions that enabled the parties to resolve their differences without further litigation.


Representative Matters

  • Resolved litigation between spouse and executor of $40 million estate consisting of 30 properties some of which needed to be sold and some refinanced.  Worked out plan for orderly wind up of estate and a family allowance for children and spouses
  • Mediated resolution of contested proposed conservatorship when father of prominent Bay Area family started making large gifts to family, friends, and care givers
  • Mediated settlement of $54 million estate after years of disagreements between the siblings dividing commercial apartments, residential property, farmland, farm equipment, and personal property so as to mitigate significant tax consequences
  • Post trial resolution of estate with three siblings and issue of fourth child after costly five years old litigation.  Allegation of self dealing and inappropriate use of funds by executors of estate
  • Resolved Conservatorship dispute between siblings over allocation of funds for compensation for appointed trustee of trust, appointment of a professional fiduciary, and framework to plan for father’s final years
  • Settled disputes involving educational and life plans of special needs child who was about to be conserved between parents as child was approaching adulthood and alternated living with both parents
  • Handled case involving law suit by decedent’s son for abandoning his father, elder abuse, and fraud against widow of recently married octogenarian, who was formerly his caregiver
  • Settled case where widow/trustee failed to allocate property into subtrusts upon death of original trustee with beneficiaries alleging commingling and self dealing
  • Mediated dispute where principal asset of estate was $5 million home left for grandchildren to share with insufficient funds to maintain house and one sibling living in house
  • Contested estate between two charities and beneficiary named in a will who provided care to the decedent
  • Contested conservatorship dispute between adult children and the conservatee's spouse about health care and residence of conservatee
  • Contested trust from which the widower-trustee had removed substantial sums from principal, though decedent’s adult children alleged he was only entitled to income
  • Handled estate dispute involving whether certain writing constituted a will; whether stepchildren had been effectively, if not legally, adopted and whether decedent and  spouse were legally married at the time of death
  • Contested accounting for Trusts, Estates, and Conservatorships
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Woman of Influence, Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2014
  • Trial Judge of the Year, Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, 2008
  • Michael Patiky Miller Luminary Award, Silicon Valley Bar Association, 2007
  • Honoree, Saint Thomas More Society, 2007
  • Honoree, Women Lawyer Committee of the Santa Clara Bar Association, 2006
  • Lecturer, University of Santa Clara, Trial Practice Techniques, 2007
  • Professor, University of Santa Clara, Paralegal Institute, Securities Regulation, 1984-1991
  • Bar Examination Grader, State Bar of California, San Francisco, California, 1978-1979
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1984 to present (Executive Board member, 2003-2006)
  • Board Member, Sentencing Alternate Program, 1984-2004 (former President and officer)
  • Board of Directors, National Association of Alcohol and Drug Dependency, 1986-1991
  • Board Representative from the District Attorney’s Office, WOMA (The Women’s Alliance to prevent Domestic Violence), 1979-1983
  • Member, National Association of Women Judges; Lifetime member of California Women Lawyers; Santa Clara Bar Association
  • "Committed to Closing," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, July 29, 2011
  • Judge, Superior Court, County of Santa Clara, 1989-2009
    • Presiding Judge, 2007-2008
    • Assistant Presiding Judge, 2005-2006
  • Judge, Municipal Court, County of Santa Clara, 1984-1989
  • Deputy District Attorney, County of Santa Clara, 1979-1984
  • Special Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office, San Francisco, California 1979-1981 
  • Staff Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement, Washington D.C. (1975-1977) and San Francisco, California (1977-1979)
  • Law clerk, Honorable Joseph M.F. Ryan, Jr. Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. (1974-1975) 
  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1974
  • B.A., St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, 1971

Counsel Comments

    • “Judge Gallagher establishes instant rapport and total respect.”

      - Bay Area attorney
    • “I couldn’t have asked for a more balanced, thoughtful, and productive mediation process than the one we had with Judge Gallagher. She strikes just the right balance and we achieved a fair result.”

      - Bay Area attorney
    • “[Judge Gallagher] was sufficiently neutral, yet not afraid to voice opinions about select issues; [she] worked very hard and had respect for all.”
    • “[Judge Gallagher] was on top of the issues, pleasant, respectful, persuasive and effective.”
    • “[Judge Gallagher’s] scholarly knowledge of relevant statutory and case law combined with her practical day to day knowledge of the workings of the court and of the judicial process makes her a most reliable and trustworthy advocate for resolution. [She] treats parties with the highest respect while teaching them the rocky road of litigation with style, grace and a most convincing charm.”
    • “I was not optimistic that the parties would settle anything at all. [Judge Gallagher] gave us the tough advice - and new way of considering our case - that we needed.”
    • “[Judge Gallagher] has always been good, effective and a hard worker - it is amazing how [she] has improved, even when I thought [she] was already great - [she] is one of the best mediators JAMS has - [she] is very good at pushing the parties and that is the key.”
    • “Without [Judge Gallagher’s] intelligence and perseverance, I don’t know that the settlement would have been reached.”
    • “[Judge Gallagher] was very efficient, to the point and had the knowledge to settle the case. [She] did an excellent job.”
    • “[Judge Gallagher] was prepared and attentive. We could not have asked for a mediator more intent in achieving a settlement-which was accomplished.”




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