Jamie Jacobs-May

Hon. Jamie Jacobs-May (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Jacquelynne Garcia
T: 408-346-0735
F: 408-295-5267
160 W. Santa Clara St., Suite 1600, San Jose, CA 95113


Having handled thousands of cases over more than 31 years as a judge and a full-time neutral, Hon. Jamie Jacobs-May (Ret.) has developed a reputation for being adept at closing cases by achieving settlement. She is described by clients as trustworthy, persistent, and a quick study, and they appreciate her emotional intelligence and ability to develop excellent rapport with the parties. She understands how emotions impact decision-making and how to transcend barriers to facilitate resolution. Judge Jacobs-May appreciates the value of humor in enabling creativity and problem-solving and in helping to manage difficult situations.

Judge Jacobs-May has extensive experience in a variety of complex practice areas, including business and contract matters, class actions, employment, wage and hour disputes, probate, professional liability, and personal injury.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Served 21 years as a trial court judge
  • Elected by her colleagues as Presiding Judge of the Santa Clara County Superior Court, 2009-2010
  • Sought-after speaker, teaching nationally and internationally on topics such as negotiations and mediation skills at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Santa Clara University Law School, and the University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Consultant to the California Judges Bench Books (CJER) on Civil Proceedings: Before Trial, Trial, After Trial and Discovery
  • Past member, Judicial Council of California, the policy-making body of the California courts
  • Past member, CACI Advisory Committee, responsible for drafting civil jury instructions
  • Chaired the Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee, responsible for drafting California Rules of Court

Representative Matters

Judge Jacobs-May’s extensive mediation experience includes:

  • Business/Commercial:
    • Commercial breach of contract disputes and related tort and statutory actions (e.g., breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion and unfair competition) involving individuals, business and governmental entities over many different industries including technology, real estate, financial services, medical, biotechnology, securities, construction, manufacturing, waste disposal and education
    • Theft of trade secret claims involving customer lists, codes and other proprietary information
    • Winding up and dissolution cases involving partnerships and other business entities
  • Employment:
    • Numerous wage and hour cases including class actions, and often involving additional claims of violations of the California Labor Code brought under the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA)
    • Wrongful termination, retaliation, and whistleblower cases
    • Executive employment contract disputes
    • Claims of discrimination, failure to accommodate, and harassment based on age, race, gender, and disability under federal and state law including ADA, FEHA, FMLA and CFRA
  • Real Estate and Construction:
    • Landlord/tenant disputes over real estate leases
    • Real estate contract disputes and related tort actions involving buyers, sellers and brokers
    • Partition actions
    • Construction cases between homeowners and contractors alleging professional negligence, contract interpretation, and construction defects
    • Disputes between neighbors involving issues such as easements, trespass, and nuisance
  • Education:
    • Injury claims brought by students against teachers and educational institutions
    • Tenure cases and other employment matters involving educational institutions
    • Charter schools
  • Personal Injury/Torts:
    • Multiple motor vehicle personal injury disputes, including catastrophic injury cases, with individuals, cities, counties, and business entities
    • Catastrophic fire cases, including the San Bruno fire cases
    • Personal injury disputes involving animal attacks, sports injuries, amusement park rides, slip and falls, and equipment-related injuries
    • Wrongful death cases
    • Insurance coverage issues
  • Professional Liability:
    • Medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and real estate malpractice
  • Probate:
    • Multiple family trust disputes, many involving non-monetary components
    • Disputes involving elderly family members and claims of undue influence, lack of capacity, elder financial abuse, and fraud
  • Health Care:
    • Individuals as well as small and large institutions in the healthcare industry
    • Disputes including licensing technology, ownership interests, and employment matters
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Recognized as a "Rising Star," Top California Neutrals List, Daily Journal, 2013
  • Judicial Advisor, Litigation Section of the State Bar Executive Committee, 2013
  • Adjunct Professor, Negotiations, University of California Berkeley School of Law, 2012-2013
  • "Best Mediator” listing of California’s Best Legal Service Providers, The Recorder, 2012
  • "Lifetime Achievement Award," Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, 2011
  • "Outstanding Jurist of the Year," Santa Clara County Bar Association, 2010
  • “Top 100 Women of Influence," San Jose Business Journal, 2009
  • “Judge of the Year," Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, 2006
  • Member, statewide Bench-Bar-Media Task Force, 2009-present
  • Member, statewide Procedural Fairness Editorial Board, 2009-present
  • Member, National Association of Women Judges, 1989-present
  • Member, Bar Association of San Francisco, present
  • Member, Santa Clara Bar Association, and acted as a member of various committees of the Bar Association, 1989-2010
  • Member, Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, 2008-2010
  • Consultant, California Judges Benchbook, Civil Proceedings Before Trial, 2006-2010
  • Member, Judicial Council of California, 2006-2008
  • Chair, Planning Committee for California Judges Association 2005 Midyear Conference
  • Member and Chair of various Santa Clara County Superior Court committees, 1998-2010
  • Member, Continuing Judicial Studies Education Committee, 2004-2007
  • Member, Civil Jury Instructions Advisory Committee, 2004-2006
  • Member, Judicial Services Task Force, 2003
  • Bencher, American Inns of Court, 1998-present
  • Member, Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, 1997
  • Member and Chair, Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee, 1997-1999
  • Senior Fellow, American Leadership Forum, a national non-profit organization which selects leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to work on public issues, 2000-present
  • "All About Teamwork," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, April 6, 2012
  • Judge, Superior Court, County of Santa Clara, 1998-2011
    • Presiding Judge, 2009-2010
    • Assistant Presiding Judge, 2007-2008
  • Judge, Municipal Court, County of Santa Clara, 1989-1998
    • Presiding Judge, 1997
    • Assistant Presiding Judge, 1996
  • Deputy County Counsel, Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office, 1983-1989
  • Associate, Berliner, Cohen, 1981-1983
  • Deputy Attorney General, California Attorney General’s Office, 1974-1981
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law), 1974
  • A.B. with Honors, Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, 1970

Counsel Comments

    • "Hon. Jamie Jacobs-May is as tenacious a mediator as I am a litigator. She is always well prepared, having studied the mediation statements, documents, etc. as she would if she was representing one of the parties. She is assertive in advocating a point when need be, which is indispensable in eliminating unnecessary impediments to settlement and educating counsel and their clients. More significantly, she seldom allows large differences in the parties’ respective settlement positions to frustrate her, even at the later stages of a full day mediation. She mediates like she has a ‘stake’ in a successful outcome, which from a mediator’s perspective is to get the case settled. Simply put, she’s one of the very best mediators around."

      -Greater Bay Area Litigator

    • “I find you to be an exceptional mediator…You have a fully educated and informed understanding of the scope of mediation techniques…You have a unique method of combining an [evaluative] method with a truly understanding, compassionate, patient, and active listening approach…It is exceptionally rare to find a mediator who effectively utilizes techniques at both ends of the spectrum, who fluidly moves along the spectrum and who is perceptive and attentive enough to assess where along the spectrum they are most likely to be effective with a particular party or case. I find you to be highly effective at this difficult task.”

      -Intellectual Property Partner at National Firm

    • "[Judge Jacobs-May], you have a fully educated and informed understanding of the scope of mediation techniques…Clients and lawyers first feel heard and understood, as humans and advocates. But this softer, understanding approach does not deter you from also being direct and firm…It is exceptionally rare to find a mediator who effectively utilizes techniques at both ends of the spectrum... and who is perceptive and attentive enough to assess where along the spectrum they are most likely to be effective with a particular party or case. I find you to be highly effective at this difficult task."

      -Central Coast Trial Attorney 

    • “Judge Jacobs May is one of the best mediators that I have ever used. She exceptional in every area […] and is able to utilize an array of mediation styles, and frequently uses multiple styles at appropriate times during a single mediation.”

      -CA Agriculture Business Litigator 

    • “She was fabulous at reading the parties, knowing their non-negotiable items, and she kept the discussions with the attorneys neutral and respectful.”

      -Family Law Specialist Attorney

    • "Judge Jacobs-May is a miracle worker. I wish she mediated all of my cases."

      -Greater Bay Area Litigator



Practice Areas

  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
  • Construction
  • Construction Defect
  • Education Law
  • Employment
  • Estates/Probate/Trust
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Special Master/Discovery Referee
Available nationwide


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