Otis McGee

Otis McGee, Jr., Esq.

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator, Referee/Special Master, Hearing Officer

Case Manager
Julie McCool
T: 415-774-2612
F: 415-982-5287
Two Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111

Otis McGee 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.


Otis McGee, Jr., Esq. is a full-time arbitrator, mediator and special master. Before joining JAMS, Mr. McGee practiced law for more than 40 years and developed a reputation as a capable and successful litigator and trial attorney. He co-founded the firm of Alexander Millner & McGee (later Arnelle, Hastie, McGee, Willis & Greene) and served as the managing partner. The firm went on to become the largest minority-owned law firm in the country.

In 1997, Mr. McGee became a partner at the international law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, litigating complex commercial, intellectual property and employment matters before joining the Oakland City Attorney’s Office in 2014. As the chief assistant city attorney and head of the litigation division, he was responsible for the oversight of all litigation brought against the City of Oakland. He began his full-time private mediation and arbitration practice, including workplace investigations, in 2018.

Mr. McGee is a respected attorney, who brings significant experience and a deep knowledge of the law to every dispute that comes before him. His meticulous attention to detail and thorough preparation allow him to bring matters to resolution successfully and expeditiously.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Certified commercial arbitrator and certified mediator since 1987
  • Full-time neutral since 2018, resolving employment, personal injury, products liability and medical malpractice disputes as well as real property and landlord/tenant cases
  • Experience in all phases of litigation, including federal and state jury and bench trials, as well as advocating for clients in mediations and arbitrations
  • Experience mediating cases as the sole mediator or co-mediating matters with other mediators

Representative Matters


  • Mediated a number of employment disputes
  • Arbitrated, as part of a tripartite panel, employment disputes involving employment discrimination claims
  • Represented corporations, public entities and individuals in employment disputes, including single and multiple-plaintiff wrongful discharge, discrimination and hostile work environment cases; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) matters; and wage and hour class actions
  • Litigated several employee mobility cases between competitors involving alleged misappropriation of trade secrets (as well as trademark and other intellectual property protection issues)
  • Represented businesses and public entities against which claims were brought alleging failure to provide adequate, and compliant, public access (ADA access disputes)
  • Handled numerous sexual harassment and hostile work environment matters
  • Served as lead trial counsel, for both plaintiffs and defendants, in labor and employment matters, achieving successful outcomes

Governmental/Public Agency

  • Handled a matter in which a public entity and its airport’s commission brought a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) action to halt the construction of a major mixed-use (commercial/residential) development, potentially enlarging the “noise map” created by commercial aircraft departures
  • Oversaw the defense of complex commercial litigation brought against a public entity by a services provider, with potential exposure in excess of $1 billion; the matter was resolved in mediation, with the public entity receiving, on its cross-claim, a significant recovery from the services provider
  • Oversaw pre-litigation negotiations, through mediation, for a multi-million-dollar recovery arising from damage to public property and police overtime expenses related to crowd control actions arising from public demonstrations


  • Handled disputes, through jury trial and appeal, between corporations providing services to public entities
  • Handled a myriad of complex commercial matters involving athletic teams, including:
    • Disputes between professional athletic teams and public entities related to the construction of athletic facilities
    • Disputes arising from the movement of professional athletic teams, including representation of a public entity as one of the parties in litigation against the National Football League (NFL) arising from issues related to the sale of personal seat licenses and the NFL’s visiting team’s share agreement
  • Handled indemnification actions between corporate entities related to costs associated with environmental cleanup, construction delay claims and claims related to personal injuries and property damage arising from alleged exposure to hazardous substances

Personal Injury/Torts

  • Acted as sole arbitrator in numerous medical malpractice matters
  • Handled many premises liability matters involving road failures, landslides and subsidence; dangerous conditions of public property; and fallen trees resulting in catastrophic personal injuries, death and damage to property, including destroyed residences
  • Handled personal injury and property damage matters resulting from fires, including oversight of litigation arising from the Ghost Ship warehouse fire, during which 35 individuals lost their lives
  • Handled actions arising from catastrophic personal injuries and deaths to bicycle riders allegedly caused by defective road conditions
  • Successfully handled several lung cancer and mesothelioma cases through jury trial involving automobile manufacturers, as well as one against the owner of a hotel being constructed on the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., arising from asbestos exposure during the ship’s renovation
  • Handled numerous products liability lawsuits arising from allegedly defective products that caused significant personal injuries and deaths, including:
    • Consumer appliances, including refrigerators, stoves, water heaters, lawn mowers and garden tractors
    • Automobiles and light trucks related to alleged brake failures, defective seat belts, airbags, rollovers, crashworthiness and post-collision fuel-fed fires
    • Medical devices
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Tobacco 

Civil Rights

Throughout his career as a litigator, Mr. McGee has occasionally drawn on his law enforcement background and training when handling civil rights matters, including the following:  

  • As chief assistant city attorney for the City of Oakland, he supervised a team of attorneys who handled matters such as:
    • Ongoing U.S. district court monitoring of the wind down of major litigation brought against a police department related to numerous police reform issues
    • Lawsuits alleging police misconduct ranging from excessive force to officer-involved shootings, resulting in serious personal injuries and death
    • Serving as co-counsel through a two-week federal court jury trial in an officer-involved-shooting case resulting in multiple deaths
  • Represented various public entities and individuals, including judges, named as parties to lawsuits pursuing claims for alleged civil rights violations


  • Lead a team of attorneys that represented a public entity in litigation arising from design, engineering and construction defects in the renovation of a municipal rail transit system 
  • Represented public entities in a matter involving construction issues arising from indemnification claims related to responsibility for remediation costs and delay claims on a public property that contained significant soil contamination
  • Represented an equipment manufacturer in an indemnification action, through jury trial, arising from a matter in which the failure of equipment at a fossil fuel power plant caused a significant quantity of asbestos and other toxic substances to be released into the atmosphere and contaminate, among other things, commercial fishing vessels and cargoes; the claims of the individual plaintiffs were severed from the indemnification action brought by the utility, which owned and operated the power plant, against the equipment manufacturer and settled in mediation; the power plant owner then sued the equipment manufacturer to recover its payment to the class of plaintiffs, including the owners of the commercial fishing vessels
  • Handled construction litigation arising from alleged defects in work performed by various contractors/subcontractors resulting in alleged injuries to members of the public
  • Served as counsel to a contractor in a construction arbitration arising from the failure of a company to pay the contractor for significant underground construction costs
Real Property
  • Successfully mediated or co-mediated property boundary disputes
  • Resolved numerous landlord/tenant disputes as mediator or co-mediator
  • Mediated personal injury cases arising from dangerous conditions of public and private property
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

Awards and Honors

  • Fred David Gray Hall of Fame, National Bar Association, Toronto, CN 2017
  • Hall of Fame Member (inaugural class), California Minority Counsel Program, 2014
  • Northern California Super Lawyer, 2006–2014
  • President’s Award, Charles Houston Bar Association, 1994
  • Hon. Justice Clinton W. White Advocacy Award, Charles Houston Bar Association, 1988

Memberships and Associations

  • Member, Board of Directors, The Mediation Society of San Francisco, 2019–present
  • Member, Litigation Counsel of America, 2008–present
  • Member, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2006–present
    • Chair, California-Northern State Committee, 2017–2019
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), 2001–present
    • National Board of Directors, 2002–2003
  • Member, Association of Defense Counsel, 1994–1999
    • Board Member, 1994–1995
  • Co-Founder,  California Minority Counsel Program, 1989
  • Co-Founder, Wiley Manuel Law Foundation, 1980
  • Co-Founder, California Association of Black Lawyers, 1977
  • Member, American Bar Association, 1976–present
    • Vice Chair, Torts & Insurance Practice Section, 1988
  • Member, Charles Houston Bar Association, 1976–present

Certifications and Admissions

  • Certified Mediator, American Arbitration Association
  • Certified Commercial Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association
  • Member, California Bar, 1976

Other Professional Activities

  • Consulting Editor, Mathew Bender’s California Civil Procedure During Trial and Post-Trial
  • Faculty, Masters in Trial,ABOTA, 2017–2019
  • Faculty; ABOTA/Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Session; National Trial College;  Reno, Nev.; 2013
  • Presenter, Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your Employee Team and Protecting Against the Greatest Risks in Employment Law, Law Seminars International Corporate Counsel Conference, 2006
  • , Litigating the Titanic: The Original Greatest Disaster of This Century,Mock Trial, American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, 1998
  • Panelist, Continuing Education of the Bar
    • Effective Use of Video in Trial, 1991, 1997
    • Civil Procedure During Trial, 1991
    • Laying a Foundation to Introduce Evidence, 1988
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor (Evidence Advocacy); University of California, Hastings, College of the Law; 1982–1985
  • Mediator, Arbitrator and Workplace Investigator; 2018–2019
  • Chief Assistant City Attorney, Oakland City Attorney’s Office, 2014–2018
  • Partner, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, 1997–2014
  • Co-Founder and Managing Partner; Alexander Millner & McGee (later Arnelle, Hastie, McGee, Willis & Greene); 1980–1997
  • J.D.; University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall); 1976
  • A.B.; with honors, University of California, Berkeley; 1973
  • Police Officer, City of Pacifica, 1969–1971
  • Commissioned Officer, United States Army, 1966–1969



Practice Areas

  • Business & Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Construction
  • Employment Law
  • Governmental/Public Agency
  • Higher Education & Title IX
  • Life Sciences
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Product Liability
Available nationwide


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