Stephen Neel

Hon. Stephen E. Neel (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Gabrielle Thorp
T: 617-228-9124
F: 617-228-0222
One Beacon Street, Suite 2210, Boston, MA 02108-3106


Hon. Stephen E. Neel (Ret.) has extensive experience resolving a wide spectrum of complex civil litigation having served 18 years as a trial judge on the Massachusetts Superior Court and 19 years as a trial attorney in private practice concentrating in complex civil litigation. He was appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court in 1992 and presided in the Business Litigation Session from 2008 to 2010. Moreover, Judge Neel served on the Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution and chaired the Superior Court’s Subcommittee on Alternative Dispute Resolution.

While at JAMS, Judge Neel has mediated and arbitrated matters in a variety of complex business and commercial disputes, including: class actions, construction cases, contracts, employment, insurance, professional liability, securities, tort, and telecommunications.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Served on the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution
  • Chaired Superior Court's Subcommittee on Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Presided in the successful Business Litigation Session (the "BLS") of the Massachusetts Superior Court from 2008 to 2010, resolving complex litigation including:
    • Business torts
    • Corporate governance
    • Employment agreements
    • Insurance
    • Intellectual property 
    • Negligence
    • Product liability
    • Professional liability
    • Securities transactions and shareholder claims
    • U.C.C.
    • Unfair trade practices
  • Served for five years as Regional Administrative Justice for Civil Business for Middlesex County
  • Handled and resolved complex civil litigation, including construction, securities, broker-dealer, and products liability cases, as a trial partner at Goodwin, Procter and Hoar and Herrick & Smith in Boston
  • Available to resolve disputes remotely through a number of videoconferencing options

Representative Matters

Judge Neel has adjudicated, mediated or arbitrated a wide variety of cases, including:


  • Arbitrated to award dispute over interpretation of LLC operating agreement
  • Dissolution of limited partnership and LLC entities
  • Consumer fraud involving brokerage firm
  • Claim by bank for breach of assignment agreement and violation of U.C.C.
  • Close corporation shareholder freeze-out

Class Action

  • Adjudicated class action against pharmaceutical company alleging false marketing
  • Adjudicated class action against smokeless tobacco producers
  • Adjudicated class action against automobile insurers seeking post-award interest on arbitration awards
  • Mediated settlement of class action by borrowers against bank


  • Big Dig tunnel collapse/wrongful death claim requiring management of multi-party litigation and coordination with parallel state and federal criminal proceedings
  • Arbitrated dispute over scope of mixed use residential and retail condominium development project
  • Chaired tripartite arbitration panel in dispute over indenture provision regarding purchase price of hydroelectric facility by lessor of project site
  • Multi-party claims arising from leaks in cladding of high-rise building
  • Mediated settlement of wrongful death claim arising from construction site heavy equipment accident


  • Arbitrated wrongful termination claims based on violation of public policy
  • Decided claims against departing employees for breach of restrictive covenants and theft of trade secrets
  • Settled claims based on, gender, military service, disability, hostile work environment, public policy and claims of retaliation
  • Decided claim for termination without cause and breach of Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan


  • Chaired tripartite arbitration panel in claim by insured against excess carrier
  • Arbitrated dispute over allocation of insurance proceeds
  • Decided interpretation of policy exclusions and coverage provisions in claims alleging environmental contamination, asbestos/chemical personal injury, and construction accident
  • Successfully mediated class action against insurer for payment of post-arbitration award interest
  • Mediated and settled coverage claim under accidental death/disability policy

Professional Liability

  • Arbitrated or mediated multiple medical malpractice/wrongful death matters
  • Decided claims of legal malpractice, fraud on court by law firm 
  • Alleged negligence/breach of contract by architect
  • Claims for breach of duty by officers, directors


  • Action to enjoin shareholder vote on merger because of alleged undervaluing of shares
  • Claim under Uniform Securities Act for alleged material misrepresentations in solicitation by hedge fund
  • Action to enjoin corporate acquisition because of alleged material omissions in proxy statement
  • Derivative action against bank arising from crash of mortgage-backed securities market
  • Mediated and settled class action claiming aiding and abetting fraud in sale of securities

Special Master/Discovery Referee

  • Numerous jury-waived trials and hundreds of discovery disputes in Superior Court/Business Litigation Session
  • Served as Special Master in matter brought by general contractor against subcontractor’s surety, seeking reimbursement of costs allegedly due for completion of subcontractor work
  • Served as Special Master in case by general contractor against municipality, each side seeking reimbursement for costs in connection with construction and renovation of high school
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS. 

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers as one of the Best Lawyers in America for his work in the practice area of Arbitration, 2016-2022
  • Liberty Bell Award, Middlesex Bar Association, 1999
  • Chairman, Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct, 2009-2010 (Member, 2004–2010)
  • Chair, Superior Court’s ad hoc Civil Steering Committee (developed, implemented Superior Court’s Firm/Fair Trial Date Initiative), 2004-2008
  • Chair, Superior Court’s Civil Committee, 2005-2007
  • Member, Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution, 2002-2004
  • Chair, Superior Court’s Subcommittee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2001-2004
  • Faculty member (“The Interaction Between the Superior Court and the Mediation Process”), Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.’s Civil Mediation Workshop, 2007
  • Judicial Chair, Massachusetts Bar Association’s Superior Court Practice Bench-Bar Committee, 2002-2004
  • Team Leader and Lecturer, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.’s Trial Advocacy Workshop, 2003
  • Co-Chair, Flaschner Judicial Institute’s Science and Technology Curriculum Advisory Board, 2000-2003
  • Member, Watertown, Massachusetts Zoning Board of Appeals, 1983-1992


  • Co-Author, “Continuity and Change in the Business Litigation Session,” Boston Bar Journal, 2008
  • Author, “The Role of the Commission on Judicial Conduct in Judicial Discipline and Enhancement,” Boston Bar Journal, 2005
  • Judicial Commentator, Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Practice Manual, MCLE, 1997
  • Judge, Massachusetts Superior Court, 1992-2011
    • Associate Justice, 1992-2011
    • Regional Administrative Justice for Civil Business for Middlesex County, 1998-1999, 2001-2004
  • Partner, Goodwin, Procter & Hoar, Boston, MA, 1986-1992
  • Partner, Herrick & Smith, Boston, MA, 1981-1986; Associate 1973-1980
  • Trial Lawyer concentrating in complex civil litigation, including construction, securities, broker-dealer, and products liability cases
  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 1973
  • B.A., cum laude, Amherst College, 1969

Counsel Comments

    • “I was impressed with Judge Neel and the JAMS team from the very beginning of the Zoom mediation process.  It was clear to me that JAMS has conducted extensive training to prepare and made every effort to ensure that the mediation was secure, efficient, and as close as possible to the in-person experience.  JAMS’s had dedicated technological support to ensure that the cameras/sounds/lighting/Zoom platform function.  We even had a “test” session to work out any kinks, which I found quite helpful.  I had no concerns about online security or safety.  I am certain that the mediation would have worked out the same way if we had all been in one location, and my client was able to save the cost/time associated with travel from California in the process.  I plan to use Judge Neel and JAMS in the future based upon my experience.”  
    • “You got the parties speaking a common language, you made both sides more realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of our cases, and you brought to bear just the right combination of urgency and patience.”  
      Prominent Boston Attorney
    • “He was a gem of a judge and shines equally bright as a mediator with his calm and thoughtful approach to highly emotional cases. I look forward to an opportunity to work with him again, soon.”
      - Prominent Litigation Attorney
    • “You brought sensitivity and wisdom to a case that was particularly complicated and difficult. Thank you for the way in which you treated us, and for guiding us through a long day. We very much look forward to working with you again.”
      - Litigator leading Boston firm
    • “Going into our mediation I had little-to-no hope of settlement. You did an outstanding job of handling and facilitating a very complicated situation. Your touch/interaction with my clients was perfect."
    • "Mediation can be tense and emotional. You did a fantastic job of dealing with the issues as well as the personalities involved.”
      Employment Litigation Partner
    • “Judge Neel was outstanding and the mediation was very well organized.”
    • “Judge Neel remained patient and attentive during a long process.”
    • “Judge Neel communicated very effectively and sensitively with the parties and their counsel throughout the process.”
    • “Judge Neel spent a year with the parties to bring an intractable 25-year-old dispute to resolution. We selected Judge Neel for his intellectual power and practical experience -- but what made the most difference in the end was his personal dedication to the case. When the settlement was about to fall apart over a weekend during the winter holidays, he got each of the lawyers on the phone and by Monday the settlement was back on track.”
    • “Judge Neel did an excellent job. He made my client feel like a significant player in the process and made every effort to relate to her. That was most helpful.”



Practice Areas

  • Administrative Law
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action
  • Construction
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Life Sciences
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Securities
  • Special Master/ Discovery Referee
Available nationwide


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