Ellen James

Hon. Ellen Sickles James (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Morgan Borg
T: 415-774-2657
F: 415-928-5287
2 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111


Judge James has a wealth of experience in real property matters ranging from landlord/tenant disputes to complex, multi-party construction defect disputes. She has settled thousands of cases nationwide at JAMS since 1997. She communicates effectively with all parties and counsel to bring successful closure to the issues presented.

Judge James’ expertise in real property covers a wide variety of issues including development agreements, boundary disputes, construction defect issues, failure to disclose known defects, breach of lease, real estate tort, environmental issues, and nuisance issues. She has extensive experience with buyer seller disputes, contract interpretation issues such as lease and/or sales contracts, property appraisal, earnest money agreements, failure of escrow, title insurance, and judicial and non-judicial foreclosure.

Representative Matters

  • Mediated a suit involving sound and noise issues – failure to disclose level of railroad noise due to proximity of tracks to luxury home development
  • Mediated and resolved matters concerning public transportation entities’ easement issues such as rights of way
  • Mediated and settled a large class action related to title insurance issues
  • Mediated and settled an issue between a former tenant and landlord wherein the landlord sued for damages committed on the property
  • Mediated and settled numerous ownership disputes arising from dissolution of marriages and business partnerships
  • Successfully mediated a multi-party landlord/tenant claims alleging substandard living conditions
  • Successfully mediated disputes involving contamination issues including toxic material and mold
  • Successfully resolved numerous CC&R disputes between homeowners, developers, and associations
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • 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
ADR Profiles
  • 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

Counsel Comments

    • "The mediator [Judge James] was terrific...Settling at this stage made sense. We couldn't possibly have settled (we tried) on our own"

      -Partner at Seattle Law Firm 
    • “Judge James’ reputation as a miracle worker is WELL deserved and hard-earned… She is just outstanding, and incredibly insightful.” 

      - Well recognized litigator
    • “[Judge James’] unique blend of talent, experience, people skills, and perseverance was masterful [and] perhaps more impressive than anything I have experienced was [her] continued involvement with the process long after a ten-hour session of mediation.” 

      - Prominent founding partner of a nationally recognized law firm




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

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