Michael Ornstil

Michael G. Ornstil

JAMS Mediator

Case Manager
Lorena Harrell
T: 925-975-5707
F: 925-938-6732
1255 Treat Blvd., Suite 700, Walnut Creek, CA 94597


Michael G. Ornstil is a true pioneer in ADR, being one of the first full-time attorney neutrals in California. Since joining JAMS in 1994, he has served as a mediator in a wide variety of matters. A skilled mediator who has evaluated in excess of 4,500 matters, Mr. Ornstil gets cases resolved through his pragmatic and focused approach. He has a capacity for quickly zeroing in on pivotal issues and is recognized for his ability to get parties through impasse by focusing on those factors that are critical to settlement.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Mediated a wide variety of cases including matters involving personal injury and wrongful death, products liability, property damage, subrogation, medical malpractice, insurance coverage and bad faith, toxic torts, wrongful termination, sexual discrimination, lemon law, landlord-tenant, partnership dissolution and construction defects
  • Mediated in excess of 4,500 cases in seven western states
  • Mediated catastrophic injury claims involving settlements in the $5,000,000 to $40,000,000 range 

Representative Matters

Catastrophic Injury/Wrongful Death 
Mediated, or is in the process of mediating a number of the most high profile injury and wrongful death cases in California. These include:

  • The Berkeley Balcony Collapse case 
  • The UPS Worksite Shooting case
  • The San Mateo Limousine Fire case 
  • The Ghost Ship Fire litigation 

Wildfire and Fire Cases
Involved in a number of California's large fire and wildfire cases, including: 

  • The Butte Fire Cases
    • Involved in mediating individual claims, the claims of governmental entities, and the insurance subrogation claims vs. PG&E 
  • The Thomas Fire
    • Involved in mediating the subrogation claims of 106 insurance carriers vs. Southern California Edison 
  • The North Bay and Paradise Fire 
    • Involved in mediating individual claims of 13 governmental entities vs. PG&E 

Additional Representative Matters

  • Mediated catastrophic injury claims involving settlements in the $5,000,000 to $40,000,000 range
  • Mediated over ten class action lawsuits involving claims against lenders
  • Mediated a high profile sexual and racial harassment claim at the request of the Mayor's office of the City of Stockton
  • Mediated a high profile housing/construction claim at the request of a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Mediated a dispute over royalty payments involving a Top 20 rock and roll band
  • Served on the team of arbitrators in a national racial discrimination class action
  • Mediated an amusement park water slide accident case involving wrongful death and multiple catastrophic personal injury claims
  • Mediated a number of cases involving Business and Professions Code section §17200 claims against commercial and financial institutions
  • Mediated a dispute over the construction of a minor league baseball stadium
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Distinguished Mediator of the Year Award, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, 2012
  • Recognized as Northern California Super Lawyer, ADR Category, 2010-2014
  • Recognized as a Top 40 California Neutral, Daily Journal, 2007
  • Mr. Ornstil serves or has served on a number of national mediation/arbitration panels including the NASD, EEOC, General Motors, Louisiana Pacific, and MCI panels
  • Lectured at Boalt, Hastings, USF, and Golden Gate University on the subject of mediation and ADR
  • Authored several articles on mediation and arbitration and has been interviewed on local, national, and foreign television and radio stations on the subject of ADR
  • "Whatever It Takes," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, March 18, 2016
  • Private practice, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, San Francisco, 1982-1994; Partner, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, San Francisco, 1987-1994
  • Extensive experience as a trial attorney in a variety of civil litigation cases including personal injury, product liability, chemical exposure/toxic torts, landlord/tenant, medical malpractice, construction, automobile, fire litigation and premises claims
  • Prior to entering law school, held various positions on the options trading floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange and developed expertise representing brokers and market makers in PSE and NASD hearings
  • J.D., Hastings College of Law, 1982; Editor, Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 1981-1982
  • B.S., cum laude, University of Miami (political science), 1978

Counsel Comments

    • “You did an excellent job in handling a very difficult case. I really appreciate the way you explored the potential avenues for exposure to our client and thought of creative ways to get the parties moving toward settlement. Ultimately, I believe this settlement was primarily due to your hard work and efforts.”

      -Partner, Civil Litigation Attorney



Practice Areas

  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Construction Defect
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Securities
  • Special Master/Discovery Referee
Available nationwide


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