Geraldine Brown

Hon. Geraldine Soat Brown (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator and Arbitrator

Case Manager
Juliana Wilkin
T: 312-655-9193
F: 312-655-0644
71 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60606


Hon. Geraldine Soat Brown (Ret.) joined JAMS in 2016 following 16 years as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, including 4 years as the Presiding Magistrate Judge. 

Before joining the bench, Judge Brown had 25 years of experience in commercial and construction litigation and alternative dispute resolution. As an attorney, she represented owners, architects, and contractors in court and in arbitrations, and in drafting construction contracts for commercial, condominium, residential, and public buildings.

Judge Brown previously served as an arbitrator in construction disputes relating to commercial, residential, and condominium buildings as well as public works.

Representative Matters

  • Arbitrated, as sole arbitrator or as a member of a panel, construction disputes relating to commercial, residential, and condominium buildings and public works, and contract disputes relating to real estate, franchising, and partnership
  • Mediated multiparty construction dispute arising from default of subcontractor in school expansion project
  • Conducted preliminary injunction hearings in numerous cases, including claimed breach of restrictive covenant, replevin of leased equipment, and award of public contract
  • Mediated settlement of copyright and unfair competition claim by architectural firm against competing firm
  • Mediated settlement of claim by surety against defaulting family-owned contractor, including disputes among family members and claim against surety alleging failure to mitigate in selection of replacement contractor
  • Mediated settlement of claim under office building lease for defective construction and repairs by lessor
  • Mediated settlement for damages based on leak of hazardous materials from adjacent building
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS. 

  • Appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court:
    • Member of the Illinois Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinating Committee,1992-1993; and
    • Expert Advisor to the Illinois Judicial Conference Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinating Committee, 1994-2000.
  • American Arbitration Association, Construction and Commercial Arbitrator and Mediator Panels, 1976- 2000
    • Chicago Region Construction Arbitration Advisory Committee
      • Member, 1982-1996; Chair, January 1987-December 1988
      • Member, Commercial Arbitration Advisory Committee, 1998-2000
  • Elected, Member of Illinois Society of Construction Attorneys
  • Mediator, Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR), 1992-2000
  • Adjunct Professor, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1993-1995

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Presenter, "ADR Headlines: Recent News about Arbitration and Mediation," Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, December 2019
  • Presenter, "What Litigators Need to Do Differently When Acting as Advocates in Arbitration, Arbitrator Subpoenas and Evidence from Non-Parties," American Bar Association Women in Litigation Section, November 2019
  • Presenter, Developments in E-discovery, National Subcontractors Alliance Attorneys Council, October 20, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, Thinking Strategically about Settlement, DRI Retail and Hospitality Committee, October 6, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, Litigation Zombies: Settlements that Don’t Stick and Sanctions After Litigation, CLE day at JAMS, June 15, 2017
  • Presenter, Ten Things You Should Know about Practicing Before Magistrate Judges, Union League Club Lawyers Group, May 24, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, Tips of the Trade: Settlement Conferences, Illinois State Bar Association, May 10, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, E-discovery in Construction Cases, Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, April 18, 2017
  • Panelist, Mediation Roundtable, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Western Division, February 13, 2017
  • Panelist, Littler Women’s Leadership Initiative, Littler Mendelson, Nov. 9, 2016

Author of numerous articles including the following:

  • Author (with Lorence H. Slutzky), “Zombie Settlements.” 107 Illinois Bar Journal 32 (May 2019)
  • 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)


  • Illinois State Bar 
  • United States District Court, N.D. Illinois. E.D. Michigan 
  • United States District Court Trial Bar
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court

Selected Professional Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
    • Chair, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, 1999-2000
    • Co-Chair, Alliance for Women, 2003-2004
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Federal Magistrate Judges Association 
  • 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

Counsel Comments

    • "Magistrate Judge Brown has been a leader in our Court and is known throughout our District as a magistrate judge who will work diligently to assist parties during complex settlement conferences and has handled a large number of difficult civil lawsuits and criminal cases."

      – Hon. Rubén Castillo, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • “Judge, thank you first and foremost for your time and assistance. When it appeared we were on the brink, your assistance proved most beneficial with my client.”
    • “It was a pleasure using your services. I firmly believe that without your input, the matter would not have reached resolution.”
    • “I want to express my sincere gratitude for your efforts in helping the parties reach a settlement on Wednesday. From my limited experience, it is very difficult to reach an early settlement for the high emotions/low damages cases like this one. I'm confident that we would not have been able to reach a resolution without your assistance. Thank you for your patience and perseverance. It was a true pleasure and I hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the future.”
    • “I know we all truly appreciate your efforts in preparing for and facilitating our mediation session yesterday. Thank you for helping us resolve this matter.”
    • “Thanks very much for your work on this case Judge. I think it was an amazing feat to get this one resolved and think you deserve all the credit for dealing with a difficult situation.”
    • “Thanks for all of your assistance in achieving the settlement yesterday. As always, it was a very positive experience working with JAMS, and I too look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the future.”
    • “Thanks again for your great work yesterday. I see that the diligence and commitment that you exhibited when you were on the bench have continued in your role as mediator. I look forward to our next meeting.”
    • "We all believe that your patience, knowledge of the subject matter, and ability to recognize and account for the enormous practical complications, were critical to getting this matter resolved. [My client] felt heard and respected. Her feelings and thoughts had to precede any resolution. It also didn’t hurt a bit that you maintained a pleasant demeanor and sense of humor throughout the in-person session and post session calls, even when at your wits end in dealing with counsel. Thank you for your hard work. It was a pleasure working with you. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you again in the future."



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