Skip to main content
Download VCard
Hon. Janet L. Sanders (Ret.)

Hon. Janet L. Sanders (Ret.)

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action and Mass Tort
Environmental Law
Personal Injury Torts
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Janet L. Sanders (Ret.) joins JAMS after over two decades on the Massachusetts Superior Court and six years on the Massachusetts District Court. Judge Sanders presided in the Business Litigation Session (BLS) for nine years, the last six as its administrative justice. As a BLS judge, she garnered experience via some of the state’s most challenging business and commercial disputes. Adept at the case management needed for large-scale cases, Judge Sanders has handled class actions, mass torts and other multi-party litigation, including the Massachusetts opioid litigation.

Judge Sanders’ ability to address the most difficult legal issues while at the same time making the parties and their counsel feel heard and understood made her a highly respected jurist. Touted by lawyers who have appeared before her as the “gold standard,” she understands the practical realities of business litigation and is known to help parties find reasonable, common sense solutions. Armed with a vast knowledge of the law, Judge Sanders uses her intellect and compassion to focus on what is essential in a case and ultimately reach resolution.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

During her 28 years on the bench, Judge Sanders handled cases that ranged from personal injury and wrongful death claims to complex business and commercial cases involving multiple parties. She presided over trials (jury and jury waived) that raised claims of Wage Act violations, insurance interpretation, environmental regulation and professional malpractice. She also handled scores of cases involving corporate disputes among investors, stockholders, officers, partners and departing employees.

Judge Sanders served on a variety of committees, including the SJC Committee on Judicial Evaluations and the Superior Court Education Committee. She trained and mentored new judges and took an active interest in continuing legal education, both within the superior court and with outside organizations, presenting on topics that included employment discrimination, the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute, evidence, trial advocacy and noncompetition agreements. 

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Multiple trials (jury-waived and jury) involving intracorporate and intercorporate disputes that included claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, misappropriation of trade secrets and ownership of intellectual property
      • Disputes over governance and dissolution of closely held businesses
      • Adjudication of a dispute concerning ownership of church property following a schism in a congregation
      • Interpretation of complex commercial contracts, including a loan agreement between a nonprofit organization constructing low-cost housing and certain investors claiming right of first refusal
      • Three-week jury trial of a case brought by a Massachusetts college against a national accounting firm alleging professional malpractice
      • Hearings regarding the proposed acquisition of smaller hospitals by a large Boston health care entity and the possible impact of such a merger on health care costs for Massachusetts residents
  • Class Action and Mass Tort
      • Class actions alleging violations of the Securities Act, including claims regarding the adequacy of disclosures in corporate acquisitions and mergers
      • Class action against entities and individuals associated with Bernard Madoff
      • Consumer class actions alleging unfair and deceptive business practices, including a claim of unfair debt collection practices
      • Presided over litigation brought by Massachusetts cities and towns against manufacturers and distributors of OxyContin, including a lawsuit brought by the attorney general against Purdue Pharma and its officers and directors
  • Employment
      • Multiple cases, including class actions, alleging violations of the Wage Act
      • Disputes concerning interpretation and enforcement of noncompetition agreements
      • Multiple cases involving claims of employment discrimination
  • Environmental Law
      • Adjudication of a dispute concerning construction of biocontainment lab researching infectious diseases
      • Judicial review of administrative agency decisions applying state and federal environmental and land use regulations
  • Insurance
      • Lawsuit brought by area restaurants against their insurers seeking to recoup business losses from COVID-19 closures
      • Multi-party litigation regarding insurers’ coverage obligations to their insured, sued for asbestos-related injuries to workers that were sustained over decades
      • Disputes concerning insurance coverage obligations for environmental cleanup costs
  • Personal Injury Torts
      • Defamation claim brought against major news outlet and community leaders who opposed construction of a mosque
      • Three-week jury trial of wrongful death case against a crane manufacturer and the entity that leased it
      • Multiple jury trials alleging medical malpractice, products liability and premises liability

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Boston Bar Association (BBA)
  • Member, American Law Institute, 2018–2023
  • Education Committee, Superior Court 2004–2023
  • Member, New Judges Training Committee, Superior Court, 2011–2023
  • Judicial Mentor, Trial Court Judge-to-Judge Mentor Program, 2011–2023
  • Member, SJC Committee on the Judiciary and the Media, 2017–2023
  • Member, SJC Committee on Judicial Evaluations, 2013–2019
  • Member, Boston Inns of Court, 2006–2018
  • Member, Editorial Board, Boston Bar Journal, 2006–2009
  • Former Member, National Association of Women Judges
  • Former Member, Women’s Bar Association
  • Former Co-Chair and Member, Section on Complex Litigation, Massachusetts Bar Association

Selected Publications

  • “Jury Selection in Progress: Yes, You May Enter,” Boston Bar Journal, Vol. 54 No. 3, Summer 2010
  • Article on Business Litigation Session, Lawyer’s Weekly, March 9, 2017
  • “New Standing Order: Hello, Standard Definitions; Goodbye, General Objections,” Boston Bar Journal, Vol. 53 No. 2, March/April 2009
  • “Judicial Evaluations: What Would John Adams Think?” Reflections of the Justices, Massachusetts Superior Court, 2009
  • “When Everything Slowed Down: Evaluating the Right to Speedy Trial in a Pandemic,” Boston Bar Journal, Vol. 65 No. 2, April 7, 2021

Selected Awards and Presentations

  • Judicial Excellence Award, Massachusetts Association of Trial Attorneys, 2010
  • Panelist for MCLE, BBA and MBA on topics including employment law, business litigation, anti-SLAPP statute, evidence, trial advocacy and noncompetition agreements
  • Annual presentations on business litigation, MCLE and BBA, 2011–2020

Teaching and Academic Work

  • Teaching team member in trial advocacy workshops, Harvard Law School, 1998–2005
  • Boston University School of Law
    • Instructor in trial advocacy, 2008–2013
    • Instructor in legal writing, 1989–1993
  • Instructor in master’s program for criminal justice, Suffolk University, 1998–1999

Background and Education

  • Massachusetts Superior Court, 2001–2023
    • Associate Justice, Business Litigation Session, 2013–2014
    • Administrative Justice, Business Litigation Session, 2014–2020
    • Regional Administrative Justice, Norfolk County, 2007–2011
  • Massachusetts District Court, 1995–2001
    • Presiding Justice, Concord District Court, 2000–2001
    • Associate Justice, Waltham District Court, 1995–2000
  • Partner; Zalkind, Rodriguez, Lunt & Duncan; 1990–1995
  • Associate, Hill & Barlow, 1984–1989
  • Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Keeton, 1984
  • Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel, 1982–1983
  • J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1982
    • Board of Student Advisers
    • Research Assistant to Professor Arthur Miller
  • Freelance Reporter; National Law Journal, Texas Monthly, UPI; 1977–1979
  • Reporter, Houston Chronicle, 1976–1979
  • B.A., Stanford University, 1976
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Honors in comparative literature


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

Search our global directory of mediators, arbitrators and ADR professionals.

Scroll to top