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Edith Matthai

Edith Matthai

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Entertainment and Sports
Estate Probate Trusts
Family Law
Product Liability
Professional Liability
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Edith Matthai comes to JAMS with over 45 years of experience representing clients in complex and high-profile matters. She has long been a leader within the legal community and recognized as a skilled trial lawyer, earning accolades from many leading legal institutions. She has represented clients in countless mediations and settled well over 1,000 cases.

Because of her breadth of experience and creativity, Ms. Matthai has been retained in a wide variety of cases that are complex and unique. She has represented hundreds of lawyers and law firms, from solo practitioners to AmLaw 100 firms, in professional liability actions. She has evaluated and litigated a wide range of matters, including complex business transactions, Ponzi schemes, fraud claims, fee disputes, partnership dissolutions, tax structures, family disputes with high-value marital or probate estates, complex real estate transactions, entertainment industry disputes, patent disputes, bankruptcy adversary proceedings, predatory lending, escrow and mortgage fraud, debt relief programs and insurance disputes.

Because legal malpractice cases have an underlying action or transaction, litigating malpractice cases has required evaluation of both sides of the underlying matter, as well as a dispassionate view of her own client’s conduct, to determine the most effective strategy. Her experience has created a solid foundation for Ms. Matthai to serve not only as a mediator and arbitrator, but also as a neutral evaluator at both the early stages of litigation and at the eleventh hour before trial.

Ms. Matthai has handled numerous disputes between law firms and departing partners, disputes over the division of fees between successive counsel and innumerable fee disputes between attorneys and their former clients.

In addition to professional liability matters, Ms. Matthai has handled and tried insurance bad faith cases, a variety of commercial litigation matters, real estate disputes, product liability cases and personal injury cases.

Throughout her career, Ms. Matthai has handled numerous appeals covering a broad range of issues.

In addition to her litigation experience, Ms. Matthai has represented over 300 judicial officers in proceedings before the California Commission on Judicial Performance. That representation has provided valuable insight into the workings of the courts and the view from the bench.

Ms. Matthai has served on the Board of Directors of American Business Bank since 2013.

Representative Matters

  • Appellate
      • Representation of multiple lawyers and law firms on appeals in malpractice actions and fee disputes
      • Representation of clients in multiple appeals arising from anti-SLAPP motions, including the seminal Jarrow Formulas case, in which the California Supreme Court established that malicious prosecution actions are subject to an anti-SLAPP motion
  • Business Commercial
      • Trial counsel in an action between a small business and a major manufacturer concerning fulfillment of supply orders
      • Co-trial counsel in a case between a university and a famous actor over the ownership of a notable work of art
      • Co-trial counsel in an action between a national restaurant chain and a franchisor, with the restaurant chain claiming more than $120 million for alleged defalcations of the franchisor and the franchisor claiming $30 million it paid as a guarantor on a loan; action involved complex accounting and valuation issues
      • Trial counsel in a matter involving a national shopping mall owner who allegedly caused millions in lost sales to a restaurant by various purportedly wrongful acts, including the removal of the restaurant’s sign
  • Entertainment and Sports
      • Lead counsel in a dispute over rights to 5% contingency fee specified in retainer agreements with talent
      • Lead counsel in a malpractice action arising from a dispute between a studio executive and his former employer over the rights to multiple films, as well as alleged conflicts of interest by counsel, who purportedly represented both parties in negotiating a severance agreement
      • Lead counsel in the arbitration of a malpractice action arising out of a dispute between two previously related film companies over the rights to multiple films and residual payments, assertions of mismanagement and theft, and conflicts over the accounting of the profits from the films
  • Estate Probate Trusts
      • Representation in multiple matters in which it was alleged that an attorney did not accurately set forth the intent of the decedent in the testamentary documents
      • Representation of attorneys alleged to have improperly advised the client to contest the testamentary disposition in the face of a no contest clause
      • Representation of attorneys alleged to have improperly represented trustees regarding the management or disposition of probate assets, the trustee’s handling of probate litigation and other claims generated by bitter disputes among heirs to the estates
  • Family Law
      • Representation of counsel in multiple actions arising from high-asset dissolution cases, requiring litigation of the validity of the underlying rulings on asset valuation and distribution, claims of breached fiduciary duties, disputes over premarital agreements and support orders, and litigation over millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees
      • Representation of numerous bench officers who allegedly violated a party’s rights in a family law matter, which required evaluation of the merits of the rulings and an explanation of the cases and the rulings in the response to the Commission on Judicial Performance
  • Insurance
      • Trial of bad faith action alleging failure to settle within $15,000 policy limits with an underlying judgment of $23 million
      • Representation of a firm alleged to be responsible for the failure of a corporate client to tender to an excess carrier before the appeal of an approximately $20 million judgment, which was just barely within the primary limits but exceeded those limits during the appeal
      • Representation of a firm that mishandled the coverage litigation arising from the condemnation of a 12-building apartment complex, requiring litigation of the underlying complex coverage disputes
      • Representation of multiple firms on allegations that their carriers had a right to rescind coverage because the firm had prior notice of a potential claim
  • Product Liability
      • Trial counsel in a federal court action against a manufacturer by an employer seeking the monies paid to their employee who was scalped and rendered a quadriplegic when his long hair became entangled in the rotating shaft of a copper extrusion machine
      • Trial counsel in an action for the wrongful death of two workmen when a compressor, which had been rebuilt, exploded
      • Trial counsel in action alleging that air conditioning equipment was the cause of a fire that destroyed a retail store
  • Professional Liability
      • Lead counsel in several matters in which lawyers were alleged to have aided and abetted Ponzi schemes or other fraudulent conduct
      • Lead counsel in legal malpractice claims for liabilities resulting from the IRS disallowance of tax structures entered into by the clients
      • Trial and appellate counsel in matter in which counsel allegedly mishandled the defense of multiple cases arising from escrow fraud, including claims that the client was wrongfully exposed to liability in excess of the insurance coverage
      • Lead counsel regarding claims that counsel improperly handled construction defect claims resulting in the client’s inability to repair a leaking reservoir
      • Lead counsel concerning claims that counsel improperly handled the trial of disputes over the patents for certain genetic testing
      • Lead trial counsel and arbitration of several claims alleging that properties or profits should be forfeited because of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct governing business relationships with clients
      • Multiple matters in which a law firm or lawyer was alleged to be responsible for improper conduct of a lawyer with the firm
  • Real Property
      • Trial and appellate counsel in a bitter, long-running neighbor dispute over easement rights for a significant portion of the client’s yard
      • Trial and appellate counsel in a dispute between clients and their attorney arising from litigation over the validity of a 100-year lease entered in 1922 with the rental rate tied to the price of gold
      • Representation of counsel in action alleging improper structure of an extraordinarily complex transaction for a multi-acre, multi-use real estate development, allegedly causing the loss of amounts owed on the financing and the development rights

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    • President, Los Angeles Chapter, 2008
    • Executive Committee, 2000–present)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
    • Member, Board of Trustees, 1998–2000
    • President, 2005
  • American Bar Association
    • Member, Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, 2010–2014
    • ABA Standing Committee Lawyers Professional Liability Committee 
    • Chair, 2007–2010
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    • Complex Litigation Committee, 2018–2023)
    • Ethics Committee, 2018–2022); Chair, 2020–2021
  • Association of Southern California Defense Council
    • President, 2001
  • Chancery Club
    • President, 2015
  • Judicial Council of California, 2010–2013
    • Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee, 2010–2011
      • Executive & Planning Committee, 2011–2013
  • California Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct
    • Advisory Member, 2015–2017
  • Judicial Council Task Force on Jury Instructions, The CACI Committee, 1996–2010
  • Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
    • President, 2001
  • California Defense Counsel
    • President, 2004


  • Top 100 Lawyers in California, Daily Journal, 2006, 2007, 2022, 2023
  • Hall of Fame Award, Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, 2015
  • Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award, LACBA, 2014
  • Trial Lawyer of the Year, CAL-ABOTA, 2013
  • Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Ernestine Stahlhut Award, 2010
  • Champion of Justice Award, Loyola Law School, 2008
  • Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, California State Bar Litigation Section, 2008
  • Top Professional Liability Lawyers, Daily Journal, 2022
  • Top 100 in Southern California, Super Lawyers, 2007–2022

Background and Education

  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of Law, 1975
  • B.A., cum laude, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1971
  • Law Offices of Robert Lieff, 1975–1976
  • Cummins, White & Breidenbach, 1976–1978
  • Breidenbach, Swainston, Yokaitis & Crispo, 1978–1986
  • Robie & Mathai, APC, 1987–2023


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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