Lester Levy

Lester J. Levy, Esq.

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator, Referee/Special Master, Neutral Evaluator

Case Manager
John Graber
T: 212-607-2765
620 8th Ave, 34th Floor, New York, New York 10018

Lester J. Levy is available to conduct cases virtually. JAMS is equipped to provide virtual ADR services on a variety of online platforms, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and more.


Lester J. Levy, Esq. is a founding member of JAMS and has practiced as a full-time ADR professional for more than 25 years. His extensive experience, sharp intellect, and innate facility connecting with parties help him to get to the heart of matters in dispute and have yielded thousands of successful complex commercial mediations and arbitrations spanning an impressive diversity of topics and practice areas. Mr. Levy enjoys helping clients find efficient, creative and lasting solutions for the most challenging disputes, from complex, multiparty, multi-claim conflicts to more common, but often no less contentious, disagreements. He is regularly sought out to handle matters that have failed to settle and is respected for his keen ability to understand sophisticated issues and guide parties to settlement through a combination of personal engagement, patience, and tenacity. (Read Mr. Levy’s client testimonials here.)

Mr. Levy’s longstanding practice as an arbitrator, mediator, and settlement master/facilitator spans subject matters, including: Business and Commercial, Class and Mass Actions, Employment, Environmental and Toxic Tort, Finance, Insurance, Limited Partnerships, Mass Torts, Product Liability, Real Estate and Securities. He is frequently selected for his skills in handling matters with long-term implications and assisting parties with their most difficult cases.

Class and Mass Actions & Mass Torts

Throughout his two and a half decades of dedicated ADR practice, Mr. Levy has handled dozens of Class Action Matters and is particularly skillful in managing sensitive, large-scale settlements. As the Chief Adjudicator for the African American Farmers Cases (Pigford v. U.S. Department of Agriculture), Mr. Levy designed, implemented and oversaw the adjudication of more than 50,000 individual claims and awarded more than $2 billion in relief. His commitment to ensuring fast, fair and flexible proceedings is beneficial to all parties.

Complex Insurance, Securities & Financial Markets Disputes

In addition to his nationally acclaimed expertise in Environmental Law, Mr. Levy has worked on a broad spectrum of insurance matters related to Directors & Officers (D&O), Errors & Omissions (E&O), Comprehensive General Liability (GCL), reinsurance, life insurance, asbestos, long tail environmental claims, construction defect, and property damage, with claims involving allocation of contributions by multiple primary and excess insurers, and allocation of defense and indemnity obligations.

Mr. Levy has handled complex securities and financial markets disputes involving large banking institutions, hedge funds, directors and officers, municipalities, and trusts, as well as intricate relationships between multiple parties.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Bankruptcy – Preferences, fraudulent conveyances, pre-filing settlements, consensual plans regarding future claims, priority, corporate governance and liability, insurance coverage
  • Business/Commercial – Securities, antitrust, banking, commercial contracts, franchise agreements, general partnerships, sales of businesses, government contracts, whistleblower, false claims, qui tam, fraud and other business torts, tax, insurance coverage
  • Civil Rights – Discrimination in employment, housing and lending
  • Class Actions – Consumer, financial services, insurance, product liability, mass tort, employment, telecommunications, discrimination, governmental services
  • Employment – Executive compensation, wrongful termination, race, gender and age discrimination, wage & hour, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, insurance coverage
  • Environmental – CERCLA/Superfund, RCRA, Clean Air Act, Clean Air Act, Natural Resource Damages (NRD), Prop 65, enforcement, USTs, wastewater discharge and pretreatment, stormwater damage, landfills, PRP allocations, pesticide runoff, RI/FS investigation and remediation planning, environmental insurance coverage
  • Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith – Professional liability, personal injury, property damage, auto, fire loss, environmental including excess pollution policies, asbestos, disability, life, health, subrogation, title, workers comp, reinsurance, bankruptcy, insurance bad faith, attorneys fees
  • Intellectual Property – Patent, copyright, related licensing agreements, trademark, trade dress, trade secret and unfair business practices
  • Land Use – NEPA, CEQA, urban planning and development, zoning, easements, variances, building setbacks, animal habitat and native species, mitigation
  • Product Liability – Design and manufacturing defects, class actions, property damage, insurance coverage
  • Real Estate – Real property transactions, broker liability, breach of contract, eminent domain, environmental contamination and remediation
  • Title IX – Member of the JAMS Title IX panel
  • Toxic Tort – Asbestos exposure and injury, lead, mold, airborne and water borne releases, drinking water contamination, personal injury and property damage, mass torts and class actions, diminution in property value

Representative Matters

Select examples of Mr. Levy’s most recent cases are provided below. Please see Mr. Levy’s specialty biographies for in-depth examples of representative cases he has mediated and arbitrated cases in Bankruptcy, Class Action/Mass Tort, Employment, Environmental, Financial Markets, and Insurance.

  • Class Action/Product Liability - Consumer class action involving allegedly defective high-pressure fuel pump installed in multiple year models of foreign automobiles
  • Banking/Mortgage Lending – Mediation between owner of non-securitized loans and mortgage lender alleging breach of contract based on servicing failures and unpaid servicing advances
  • Finance/Lending/Factoring – Mediation alleging breach of factoring contract assigning present and future account receivables in consideration for payment of working capital
  • Franchise – Mediation between franchisor and franchisees alleging pre-sale fraud and misrepresentation in financial projections, post-sale lack of support, discriminatory enforcement of franchise agreement, misappropriation of advertising fees and excessive overcharging in connection with mandatory purchases
  • Employment - Arbitration alleging same-sex harassment, racist nicknames and ridicule, and racial profiling of customers who complain of such conduct
  • Banking/Breach of Contract/Class Action – Class Action alleging claims of mis-assessment of account overdraft fees and ATM and debit card overdraft fees under breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and New York General Business Law
  • Environmental – Mediation of claims by municipal water district against former and current owners over historical releases of 1,4-dioxane into potable water aquifer serving thousands of consumers
  • Insurance/Environmental – Mediation of issues on appeal from District Court over interpretation of two primary and three excess insurance policies with goal of reaching a coverage-in-place agreement governing long-term relationship between insurer and insured
  • IP – Mediated patent infringement actions between competing firms involving encryption technology. Mediation involved several related federal and state court lawsuits and contractual arbitration. Settlement involved the negotiation of software and hardware license agreements
  • Consumer Class Action – Mediation of nationwide class action under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) alleging non-compliant display of debit or credit card accounts
  • Consumer Class Action/Food – False Advertising – Mediation of nationwide class action alleging false advertising in connection with label statements such as “natural” and “non-GMO”
  • Securities – Arbitrated claims against financial investment advisors regarding allegations of fraudulent solicitations, over-concentration in certain securities, churning, and price manipulation
  • Breach of Contract – Arbitrated contract dispute over sale of energy consulting business by a U.S. company to a French corporation; issues included valuation of earn-out provisions and sufficiency of employee performance post-sale
  • Sales and Use Tax – Mediated successive class actions brought by throughout the state against multiple national cellular carriers for alleged non-payment of sales and use taxes in connection with in-state sales of cellular telephone services
  • Consumer Banking – Settlement Ombudsman for nationwide coordinated federal and state actions involving 24 million credit card holders alleging excessive interest and late charges, and promoting “add-on products” promising illusory benefits and services
  • Bankruptcy – Mediated hundreds of claims and preferences in a $6 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy pursuant to a comprehensive ADR order of the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware
  • Environment CERCLA – Federal District Court-appointed mediator and special master to conduct settlement proceedings involving five intermingled plumes of groundwater PCE contamination resulting from discharges from multiple dry cleaners throughout city. Parties included municipal government officials, business owners, private parties, environmental regulators, attorneys’ general and insurance carriers. Mediation involved in-depth analysis of relevant hydrogeology, investigative and remedial technologies and the allocation of related costs among hundreds of parties and their insurance carriers. Mediation also involved use of neutral expert and independent, party/policy holder-specific negotiations with that party's insurance carriers where helpful to facilitate settlement. Governmental environmental regulators and attorneys’ general participated as invited guests where beneficial
  • Insurance/Asbestos – Mediated nine-figure settlement of historical insurance coverage profile maintained by asbestos trusts, involving multiple layers of primary and excess insurance coverage over a 30- year period of claimed asbestos injuries. Issues involved negotiation of allocation methods among multiple years of coverage, between primary and excess limits, including lost-policies, and defense vs. indemnity coverage
  • Land Use – Mediated NEPA and CEQA dispute between major university, municipality, county and citizens groups over long-range (20-year) development plans (water, housing, traffic and population). The resolution addressed longstanding grievances, recalibrating the university-city-county relationship and establishing an innovative relationship model to resolve future disputes
  • Hedge Fund/Limited Partnership – Mediated class action by Limited Partners of hedge fund against General Partner and related entities
  • Special Master/Discovery Referee – Appointed by Federal States District Court for discovery and settlement. Decided numerous discovery motions, including: (1) motions to compel deposition testimony and responses to written discovery requests; (2) request to examine certain real property pursuant to Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (3) motion seeking the return of allegedly privileged documents under the work product doctrine and attorney client privilege; (4) motions for sanctions; (5) motion to continue the trial date; and (6) motion to bifurcate the trial
  • Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS
  • Energy & Environmental Trailblazer, National Law Journal, 2016
  • "ADR Swiftly Compensates Parties in Mass Actions and Toxic Tort Cases," New Jersey Law Journal, April 12, 2016
  • "Mediation Can Accelerate Cleanup," New Jersey Law Journal, March 7, 2016
  • Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators
  • Founder, JAMS Class Action and Mass Tort Settlement Program
  • Registered Mediator, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Adjunct Professor, Alternative Dispute Resolution, University of San Francisco Law School
  • Member, ADR Panels for the Northern California Federal District Court, and the Superior Courts of San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, and San Mateo Counties
  • Member, ADR Panels for the Bankruptcy Courts in the Districts of Delaware and the Southern District of New York
  • Former Vice Chair & Member, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, Tort Trial & Insurance Section of the American Bar Association
  • Chair & Member, ADR Committee, American Bankruptcy Institute, 2005-2008
  • Vice Chair, ADR Committee of ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER)
  • Founder, JAMS Environmental Judicial College
  • Trained in mediation/negotiation at Harvard Law School (Roger Fisher, author of Getting to Yes)
  • Written and lectured on ADR to Bar Associations including the ABA, IBA, law firms, private companies, and law schools throughout the United States
  • “A Comment on Communication and Complex Case Mediation,” Daily Journal, September 17, 2010
  • "Mediator Creates Healthy Settlement Environment," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, March 23, 2007
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, 1986-1994
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Irving R. Kaufman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1985-1986
  • J.D., magna cum laude, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 1985; Chief Articles Editor, Cardozo Law Review
  • B.Mus., San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1981, Classical Guitar Performance and Composition

Counsel Comments

    • “Lester’s honest and direct style creates a trusting relationship and open dialogue with attorneys and their clients. He transforms the most complex and emotionally challenging disputes into a process the parties can use to constructively resolve their differences. He quickly identifies the key issues, sets a course of action including a range of possible settlements, then gets it done.”
    • "...There are a lot of people who are not in the courtroom...that ought to be thanked, in particular, Mr. Levy, the special master, who, from my observations...has done an outstanding job shepherding this through, a very lengthy, time-consuming, difficult litigation because of the number of parties; and he simply has done a wonderful job, bringing this to a resolution."   

      - Federal Judge

    • “Lester Levy’s effectiveness as a mediator is the result of both a keen mind and relatable personality. He handles complex issues and challenging personalities with equal aplomb. The hallmark of an effective mediator is evenhanded persistence, and Lester is highly skilled at keeping the parties engaged and moving toward a mutually acceptable resolution.”

    • “Lester takes the time to learn the nuances of each case so he can foster a constructive dialogue between the parties to achieve resolution. He always invests whatever it takes to make sure the case settles, never giving up until the documents are signed.”

    • “Lester is thoughtful, and takes his time to speak directly with each party to better understand the issues. He is deliberate and careful in communicating messages between sides.”

    • “He was very patient yet effective at permitting each side to put forth their arguments which led to a fair resolution for all parties. His knowledge of environmental litigation and the issue that surround it certainly helped move the mediation along.”



Practice Areas

Available nationwide


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