Thomas McPhee

Judge Thomas McPhee (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Michele Wilson
T: 206-292-0457
F: 206-292-9082
1420 Fifth Ave., Suite 1650, Seattle, WA 98101

Thomas McPhee 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.


Judge Thomas McPhee (Ret.) brings to JAMS more than 40 years of legal experience, including 22 years on the Thurston County Superior Court. He has tried nearly every type of case imaginable, earning a reputation for being one of the hardest working jurists in the region. Judge McPhee conducted more than 300 settlement conferences and required dispute resolution in all civil cases assigned to him. At JAMS he serves as a mediator, arbitrator, and special master with experience administering disputes regarding electronically stored information.

Judge McPhee has extensive experience with employment matters, including harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, and discrimination cases.  As a lawyer, he tried employment discrimination cases in state and federal court, and before the EEOC. As judge, he ruled on numerous disputes between unions and employers, primarily state agencies, and reviewed decisions of PERC.  He has conducted trials and decided dispositive motions in numerous employment discrimination cases and is experienced in application of the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting protocol.

Representative Matters

  • Mediated claim by teacher against school district for sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation.
  • Mediated claim by retail sales employee against national retailer for age discrimination and failure to accommodate.
  • Mediated claim by engineer employee against large employer for hostile work environment, retaliation, and stress induced permanent disability.
  • Mediated claim by medical lab tech against national laboratory chain for race discrimination.
  • Mediated claim by hearing impaired employee for failure to accommodate and discrimination based on disability.
  • Arbitrated wage claim (bonuses exceeding $1 million) brought by general manager of auto dealership.
  • As judge, decided employment discrimination and wrongful discharge case typical of many employment cases decided by Judge McPhee. Case, involving four separate claims of discrimination, progressed through substantial motion practice and was dismissed on summary judgment (affirmed on appeal, 164 Wash. App. 1063).
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Presenter, Mediation Ethics, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers CLE, 2014
  • Named Judge of the Year, Washington State Association for Justice, 2013
  • Member, The Sedona Conference, Working Group 1: Electronic Document Retention and Production
  • Former Trustee, Superior Court Judges’ Association
  • Former Chair, Board for Judicial Administration Litigation Time Standards Task Force
  • Former Chair, SCJA Guardianship Tools for Court Workgroup
  • Former Member, Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Program Steering Committee
  • Former Member, Justice in Jeopardy Implementation Committee
  • Former Member, SCJA Judicial Education Committee
  • Former Member, SCJA Guardianship and Probate Committee
  • Past President, Thurston County Bar Association
  • Past President, Thurston Youth Services
  • Former Member, WSBA Education Committee
  • Presenter, Electronically Stored Information and Discovery, AGO CLE, 2012
  • Presenter, Judicial Review of APA Cases, AGO CLE, 2010
  • Presenter, Dependency, FCIGP, 2009
  • Presenter, Guardianship Case Management, SCJA CJE and Court Administrators Conference, 2009
  • Presenter, Lincoln on Professionalism, WSBA CLE, 2009
  • Presenter, Unified Family Court Practice, Family Court Improvement Grant Program, 2007
  • Presenter, Civility & Professionalism in the Courtroom, WSBA Young Lawyers CLE, 2005
  • Presenter, Motion Practice, TCBA CLE, 2005
  • Presenter, Public Disclosure Act, AGO CLE, 2003
  • Presenter, Trial Briefs, WSBA Young Lawyers CLE, 2002
  • Presenter, Pre-trial Preparation, WSBA Young Lawyers CLE, 2001
  • Judge, Superior Court, Thurston County, WA, 1990-2012
    • Presiding Judge, Thurston County, two terms
  • Trial lawyer, Olympia private practice, 1973-1990
  • Trial lawyer, Washington Attorney General’s Office, 1969-1973
  • J.D., University of Oregon, 1969
  • B.A., Political Science, Washington State University, 1966

Counsel Comments

    • "I truly appreciate Judge McPhee’s attention to every detail, and straight forward manner. He’s at the top of my list for Washington mediators from now on."

      -Defense Counsel
    • “It’s an honor to work with Judge McPhee because of his acumen, diligence, and sense of fairness.”

      -Washington State Attorney
    • "Based on my experience, it seems to me that there are two character traits of mediators that seem to contribute most to the satisfactory resolution of a dispute. First, the ability to listen respectfully to a party's position; and 2) the ability to provide a credible analysis of the risks associated with not resolving a dispute. I think you [Judge McPhee] effectively displayed both of these."
    • "It was evident [throughout the arbitration] from your questions and propensity to think creatively outside the contours of arguments made by counsel that you [Judge McPhee] immersed yourself in the case and worked hard. Both sides appreciated your evenhandedness, level of involvement, and especially your good humor."
    • "While maintaining his neutrality, Judge McPhee was able to identify key questions regarding strengths of the parties’ positions that helped move the parties towards settlement. He also was effective in helping us to understand how our proposals were likely to be received by opposing counsel."
    • "[A decisive difference in the outcome of the case was made because of Judge McPhee’s] excellent listening and preparation."
    • "[Judge McPhee] brought a realistic, neutral perspective to the parties’ chances of prevailing in litigation."
    • "Judge McPhee was very well prepared. It was obvious he had read the materials and thought about the issues. He asked very good questions that helped the parties move from their established positions."
    • "[A decisive difference in the outcome of the case was made because of Judge McPhee’s] evaluative approach with my client."
    • "[Judge McPhee] kept working at a resolution when it didn’t appear possible."
    • "[A decisive difference in the outcome of the case was made because of Judge McPhee’s] patience and understanding of the law."
    • "[Judge McPhee’s] extensive experience as a trial court judge in the county where the matter was pending and experience in working with the State of Washington and trespass claims [made a decisive difference in the outcome of the case]."



Practice Areas

Available nationwide


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