Hon. Geraldine Soat Brown (Ret.)

T: 312-655-0555
F: 312-655-0644

Locations

Hon. Geraldine Soat Brown (Ret.) joins JAMS following 16 years of distinguished service as a Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, including four years as Presiding Magistrate Judge. During her time on the bench, Judge Brown presided over thousands of civil cases in both pretrial and trial stages, including jury and bench trials in breach of contract, employment, civil rights, tort, and civil RICO cases.

Before her appointment to the bench, Judge Brown had 25 years of experience in commercial and construction litigation, trying cases to verdict and arguing appeals in state and federal court. She represented parties in litigation and arbitration of contract and construction disputes, and represented lawyers, architects, and real estate brokers in disputes relating to their professional relationships and obligations.

She is known as a decisive and even tempered jurist, qualities that serve her well in mediation. Lawyers report that she has helped litigants reach negotiated resolutions even in cases where the parties did not believe settlement was feasible.

Judge Brown has mediated over 2,000 settlement conferences in virtually every substantive area of law, putting decades of legal experience and alternative dispute resolution expertise to work for federal litigants.

ADR Experience and Qualifications
Judge Brown has extensive experience adjudicating and mediating in the following areas:

  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Construction
  • Consumer Law
  • Employment, including trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and wage and hour claims
  • ERISA Disability Benefits
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury/Torts

Judge Brown was in active arbitration practice—as advocate and arbitrator—for over 20 years prior to joining the federal bench. She has written and lectured extensively on alternative dispute resolution topics and has advised both the federal and state judiciaries on ADR processes.

Representative Matters
As an arbitrator:

  • Arbitrated (either as sole arbitrator or as a member of a panel) construction disputes relating to commercial, residential, and condominium buildings; public works; and contract disputes relating to real estate, franchising, and partnership.
    As a judge:
  • Mediated claims for property damage to a dozen food producers and related insurance coverage disputes arising out of USDA condemnation of food storage facility. After 28 sessions held over nine months, all claims in multiple state and federal lawsuits were settled and the cases dismissed.
  • Mediated four class action cases in state and federal court involving the same insurer’s liens over personal injury recoveries. After 11 sessions held over a year, full resolution was reached in all cases.
  • Mediated difficult family dispute involving succession interests in family business and property.
  • Mediated breach of fiduciary duty claim against trustee alleging that the trustee favored certain heirs in the investment and distribution of assets from family trust.
  • Mediated claims and counterclaims in long-standing dispute among attorneys and family members arising from catastrophic personal injury.
  • Mediated ten-year old case alleging claims of unfair competition and breach of loyalty.
  • Mediated CERCLA responsibility of real estate trust owning commercial property.
  • Mediated claim against institutional fiduciary alleging misuse of funds in trust to benefit educational institution.
  • Mediated multiparty construction dispute arising from default of subcontractor in school expansion project.
  • Mediated copyright claim regarding canisters, complicated by prior business relationship between parties.
  • Mediated cases involving copyright, trademark, or patent claims for a variety of services and products, including artworks, songs, food dispensers, business names, images, and signage.
  • Conducted jury trial involving claim for breach of complex software development contract.
  • Conducted jury trial in civil RICO and breach of contract claim against national moving company.
  • Conducted preliminary injunction hearings in numerous cases, including claimed breach of restrictive covenant, replevin of leased equipment, and award of public contract.

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Speaker, "Ten Things You Should Know about Practicing Before Magistrate Judges," Union League Club Lawyers Group, May 24, 2017
  • Speaker, "Tips of the Trade: Settlement Conferences," Illinois State Bar Association, May 10, 2017
  • Speaker, "E-discovery in Construction Cases," Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, April 18, 2017
  • Speaker, "Women and the Law," Littler Mendelson Women’s Leadership Initiative Luncheon, 2016
  • American Arbitration Association, Construction and Commercial Arbitrator and Mediator Panels, 1976-2000
    • Chicago Region Construction Arbitration Advisory Committee
      • Member, 1982-1996
      • Chairwoman, January 1987-December 1988
    • Member, Commercial Arbitration Advisory Committee, 1998-2000
  • Illinois Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinating Committee
    • Member, 1992-1993
    • Expert Advisor, Illinois Judicial Conference Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinating Committee, 1994-2000
  • Mediator, Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR), 1992-2000
  • Member, Federal Magistrate Judges Association, 2000-2016
    • Member, Rules Committee, 2008-2016; Chair, 2013-2016
  • Member, American Bar Association, 1978-present
    • Member, Litigation Section, 1978-present
    • Member, Dispute Resolution Section, 1995-present
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association, 1975-present
    • Member, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, 1987-present; Chair, 1999-2000
    • Member, Alliance for Women, 1994-present; Co-Chair, 2003-2004
    • Member, Architecture and Law Committee, 1981-1985
  • Member, Chicago Council of Lawyers, 1975-present
    • Chairwoman, Judiciary Committee, 1977-1978
  • Member, Federal Bar Association, 2000-present
  • Member, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, 1993-present
    • Member, Committee on the Administration of the Hooton Trust, 1997-2000
  • Board of Directors, Cook County Court Watching Project, Inc., 1979-1982
  • Adjunct Professor, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1993-1995

Author of numerous articles including the following publications:

  • Author, “The Top Five Things to Know about the New Federal Discovery Rules." The Circuit Rider 10 (Nov. 2015)
  • Author, “When is a Foreigner Diverse?:  Diversity Jurisdiction in Cases Involving Foreign Citizens and Businesses,” 62 The Federal Lawyer, No. 1, 66 (Jan. 2015)
  • Contributor, “Symposium:  The Restyled Federal Rules of Evidence,” 53 William and Mary Law Review, No. 5, 1470 (2012)
  • Author, “Reining in E-Discovery,” 37 Litigation, No. 4, 18 (2011)
  • Author, “What Happens to Cases that Don’t Settle,” 11 Dispute Resolution Magazine, No. 3, 25 (2005)
  • Co-author with Michael L. Shakman and Barry A. Miller, “Primer on Acting Rationally When Lawyers Relocate,” 14 CBA Record, No. 2, 24 (2000)
  • Author, “One Firm’s Tradition of Breaking Traditions,” Breaking Traditions, American Bar Association (1993)
  • Author, “Differences Between Private Arbitration and Mandatory Court-Annexed Arbitration,” 5 CBA Record, No. 4, 20 (1991)
  • Author, “Some Practical Thoughts on Arbitration,” The Corporate Litigator, American Bar Association (1989)
  • Editor, The Practical Guide to Illinois Preservation Law. Chicago Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section (1984)

Admissions

  • United States District Court, N.D. Ill. (1975), E.D. Mich. (1994)
  • United States District Court Trial Bar (1983)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (1980), Sixth Circuit (1993)
  • United States Supreme Court (1979)
  • Illinois State Bar (1975)

Background and Education

  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • Presiding Magistrate Judge, 2012-2016
    • Magistrate Judge, 2000-2016
  • Miller, Shakman & Hamilton (and predecessor firms)
    • Partner, 1980-2000
    • Associate, 1975-1980
  • Arbitrator, Mandatory Arbitration Program of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, 1990-2000
    • Member, Mediator Panel for the Law Division Voluntary Mediation Program, 1993-2000
  • Federal Defender Panel
    • Attorney Member, 1999-2000
    • Attorney Intern, 1998-1999
  • J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 1975
  • B.A., summa cum laude, University of Dayton, 1972

Disclaimer

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