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James Robertson

Hon. James Robertson (Ret.)

Case Manager
Erika Holland
T: 202-533-2019
F: 202-942-9186
1155 F Street, NW, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20004


Hon. James Robertson (Ret.) joined JAMS in 2010 and is a highly respected international mediator and arbitrator. He served with distinction as a United States District Judge for the District of Columbia for more than 15 years before his retirement.. He has earned a well-deserved reputation for fairness, integrity, courage, intelligence, decisiveness, compassion, and fair play. Prior to Judge Robertson’s appointment to the federal bench, he was in private practice for 25 years with Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.

Judicial Experience and Qualifications

  • Presided over more than 1,000 civil cases involving patent, antitrust, securities, construction, banking, contract, environmental, food and drug, labor, international arbitration, employment, and miscellaneous government regulatory issues
  • Authored over 600 opinions that reflect careful fact finding; powerful, principled reasoning; clear writing; and devotion to the rule of law
  • Mediated many cases to settlement and provided clear, candid early evaluations of many others to facilitate their negotiated resolution
  • Applied hands-on case management techniques to resolve disputes efficiently, expeditiously, and economically
  • Judge Robertson’s mediation efforts are credited for the achievement in December 2009 of a $3.4 billion settlement of the huge Indian trust fund class action, Cobell v. Salazar, after fourteen years of litigation and nine trips to the Court of Appeals
  • Notable rulings:
    • Hamdan v. Rumsfeld – granting the first writ of habeas corpus to a Guantanamo Bay detainee and shutting down his military commission trial, until Congress gave its approval to military commission trials and brought trial procedures into compliance with the Geneva Conventions. The Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, but the Supreme Court (5-4) agreed with Judge Robertson.
    • Mova Pharmaceutical Corp. v. Shalala – Injunction restraining FDA approval of competitor’s abbreviated new drug application until180 days after plaintiff began commercially marketing its generic drug or until drug patent was declared invalid or not infringed
    • Wyeth v. Dudas – Overruling Patent and Trademark Office interpretation of law governing extension of patent terms because of PTO delay
    • Hollister v. Soetoro – Dismissing as frivolous “birther” claim as to President Obama’s citizenship

Representative Matters

  • Arbitration between sovereign wealth fund and US commercial bank for breach of contract in connection with investment transactions
  • Arbitrated to award breach of contract dispute between two North American pharmaceutical companies with respect to joint marketing/sales agreement for “biologic” drug
  • Multiple arbitrations involving (re)insurance coverage/defense
  • Mediation of copyright dispute between multinational software company and one of its competitors
  • Mock appellate argument on issues of price fixing amongst international common carriers
  • Special Settlement Master for dispute between a First Nation and the United States
  • Arbitrated to award patent dispute between French pharmaceutical manufacturer and its competitor
  • Mediation of multiple patent infringement disputes between multinational pharmaceutical companies and their generic competitors
  • Arbitration of dispute between major North American hotel chain and the foreign owners of a resort hotel property
  • Mississippi for Justice "Mississippi on the Potomac" 2013 honoree for a distinguished career in promoting equality and civil rights
  • Member, International Bar Association, 2010-present
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 1984-present
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 1987-present
  • Member, American Law Institute, 1996-present
  • President-elect and President, District of Columbia Bar, 1990-1992
  • Named one of the Best Lawyers in America, 2019
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
    • Board Member, 1973-1990
    • Co-Chair of D.C. affiliate, D.C. Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 1982-1984
    • National Co-Chairman, 1985-1987
  • President, Southern Africa Legal Services and Legal Education, Inc. (President, 1989-1994; Board Member, 1987-1997)
  • U.S. District Court Committee on Grievances, 1988-1992 (Vice Chair, 1990-1992)
  • Mediator and Arbitrator, JAMS, 2010-present
  • U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia, 1994-2010
  • Partner, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Hale), 1973-1994
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 1969-1972
    • National Director, Washington, D.C.
    • Chief Counsel, Mississippi Litigation Office
  • Associate, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, 1965-1969
  • Lieutenant, U.S. Navy (USS Turner 1959-1962, Office of Naval Intelligence 1962-1964)
  • LL.B., George Washington University, 1965 (Editor-in-Chief, George Washington Law Review, vol. xxxiii, 1964-1965)
  • A.B., cum laude, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 1959

Counsel Comments

    • “Judge Robertson is as smart and capable as they come. He is even-handed and fair to both sides. He treats all parties, attorneys, witnesses and jurors with the utmost respect. His opinions are to the point and clear without being plagued with unnecessary legal flourishes.”

      - Civil Litigator



Practice Areas

  • Administrative Law
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Environmental
  • Federal Judge
  • Government/Public Agency
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • International
  • Pharmaceuticals/Mass Tort
  • Securities


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