Hon. Ellen Sickles James (Ret.)

T: 415-982-5267
F: 415-982-5287
Judge James, a highly experienced and effective mediator, leverages her communication and interpersonal skills to effectuate successful settlements in the majority of her complex and diverse caseload. Since 1997, Judge James has served as JAMS mediator, arbitrator, judge pro-tem, and special master in multi-party complex litigation in a multitude of civil law cases. Her work has resulted in the settlement of thousands of cases nationwide.

Judge James is skilled at resolving multi-party complex litigation, including insurance coverage matters of all types including bad faith disputes.

Representative Matters

  • Mediated and resolved many cases involving policy holder auto accidents and related insurance coverage issues
  • Successfully mediated matter involving issues pertaining to rescission, a judgment creditors right of recovery under a rescinded policy, and assigned breach of contract/bad faith issues
  • Mediated and resolved many disputes between policy holders and insurance companies over entitlement to disability benefits involving a policy holder who became disabled and sued her insurer over proper amounts of money due under the insurance policy

  • Successfully mediated a case between an injured bicyclist and an insurance company over issues related to insurance coverage
  • Successfully resolved many cases concerning alleged property damage to residential and commercial structures and whether damages were covered under existing policies

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Recognized as a "Top Neutral," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013
  • Member, Gender Task Force, JAMS, 2008-present
  • Distinguished Mediator of the Year Award, San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association, 2008
  • Member, Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance, American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section, 2006-present
  • Adjunct Professor at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California 2002 and 2003
  • Lecturer for The American Bar Association, CEB, The Rutter Group, and numerous local Bar Associations and community groups
  • Above and Beyond Award, Alameda County Trial Lawyers Association, 1998
  • Served on the Judicial Council Complex Litigation Task Force, 1997-1999 and the Judicial Council Task Force on the Quality of Justice, 1997-1999
  • Chairperson, Contra Costa Superior Court Trials Committee and Civil Bench Bar Committee, 1991-1997
  • Organized Contra Costa Judicial Council Trials Management Program, 1991
  • Trial Judge of the Year, Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association, 1987
  • Member, Judicial Council Blue Ribbon Panel of Experts on Arbitrator Ethics
  • "Olive Branch Bearer," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, April 29, 2011

Background and Education

  • Presiding Judge, Civil Division, Contra Costa County Superior Court, 1991-1997
  • Superior Court Judge Liaison to First District Court of Appeal, 1990-1997
  • Presiding Judge, Superior Court Appellate Division, 1986
  • Associate Justice, (pro tem), First District Court of Appeal, 1985
  • Judge, Mt. Diablo Judicial District Municipal Court, 1976-1982; (elected Presiding Judge, 1978)
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law), 1969
  • B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1965


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