William Cowin

Hon. William I. Cowin (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Angus Blake
T: 617-228-9138
F: 617-228-0222
One Beacon Street, Suite 2210, Boston, MA 02108

William I. Cowin 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.


Hon. William I. Cowin (Ret.), widely regarded as a fair and knowledgeable judge, has served on the Massachusetts Appeals Court for seven years where he authored over 400 opinions. Prior to his service on the judiciary, Justice Cowin practiced law for 26 years with one of Boston’s oldest firms, Friedman & Atherton, concentrating on civil litigation, largely in business, commercial, and regulatory disputes. He has served as a member of three-judge appellate panels, an arbitrator, and advocate making numerous appearances as counsel in arbitrations and mediations.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Neutral arbitrator on three-member panel that adjudicated contractual dispute between two major electric utility companies
  • Single arbitrator with respect to implementation of substantial marital estate distribution provisions of divorce judgment
  • Numerous appearances as counsel in arbitrations and mediations while in private practice
  • Regular decisions as appellate judge in matters arising out of arbitrations and arbitration judgments, including as representative samples:
    • Town of Duxbury v. Rossi, 69 Mass. App. Ct. 59 (2007)
    • Boston Police Patrolmen’s Assn. v. City of Boston, 60 Mass. App. Ct. 672 (2004)
    • Mass. Correction Officers Federated Union v. Sheriff of Bristol County, 55 Mass. App. Ct. 285 (2002)
  • Available to resolve disputes remotely through a number of videoconferencing options

Representative Matters

Significant civil cases on which Justice Cowin has written include the following:
  • King v. City of Boston, 71 Mass. App. Ct. 460 (2008) (ruling that plaintiffs’ evidence supporting prima facie case sufficient to go to the jury in gender discrimination claim)
  • Homesavers Council of Greenfield Gardens v. Sanchez, 70 Mass. App. Ct. 453 (2007) (unlawful attempt to evict subsidized housing tenant violated covenant of quiet enjoyment and constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress)
  • Bellemare v. Clermont, 69 Mass. App. Ct. 566 (2007) (trustee of nominee trust with no financial interest or independent authority not an “owner” of real estate for purposes of lead poisoning statute)
  • Dube v. Lanphear, 69 Mass. App. Ct. 386 (2007) (drinking companions not “social hosts” for purposes of liquor liability)
  • Pizzino v. Miller, 67 Mass. App. Ct. 865 (2006) (defining criteria for permitting divorced custodial parent to leave the state with children over objection of non-custodial parent)
  • Rempelakis v. Russell, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 557 (2006) (allocating burden of proof where fiduciary accused of undue influence)
  • Peterson v. Board of Assessors of Boston, 62 Mass App. Ct. 428 (2004) (real estate tax assessments)
  • Pembroke Country Club v. Regency Savings Bank, 62 Mass. App. Ct. 34 (2004) (neither tortious interference nor deceptive trade practice for bank to influence consortium of lenders not to discount loan)
  • W.R. Grace & Co. – Conn. V. City Council of Cambridge, 56 Mass. App. Ct. 559 (2002) (upholding temporary zoning freeze on development as not exceeding municipality’s police power and as not constituting a taking)

Special Master Appointments include the following:

  • Appointed special master by Judge Hiller Zobel in InterSystems v. EOP - One Memorial Drive, LLC, a dispute regarding a commercial lease in which Microsoft was a third-party defendant. Judge Cowin’s assignment was to make recommendations on the handling of Microsoft's request for confidentiality orders with respect to information disclosed in connection with discovery and summary judgment motions, 2008
  • Appointed discovery master by Judge Patrick Brady in Bucuvalas v. Mihos, a case involving alleged breaches of fiduciary duty in a closely held corporation, 2010-2011
  • Appointed discovery master by Judge Jeffrey Locke in Thou v. Westerling, Plymouth Superior Court, an action seeking to enforce judgments against entities allegedly related to the judgment debtors, 2010-2011
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS. 

  • Former Chairman and Director, Massachusetts Advocacy Center
  • Former Chairman, Civil Rights Committee, Anti-Defamation League, New England Regional Board
  • Former Board Member, Massachusetts Committee for Children and Youth
  • Former President and Director, Boston Opera Association
  • Former Director, Opera Company of Boston
  • Associate Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court, 2001-2008
  • Partner, Friedman & Atherton, LLP, Boston, MA, 1975-2001
  • Secretary of Administration & Finance, Massachusetts, 1972-1974
  • Secretary of Consumer Affairs, Massachusetts, 1971-1972
  • Chairman, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities, 1969-1971
  • Special Counsel, Mayor Kevin H. White, Boston, 1968-1969
  • Legislative Assistant, U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke, 1967-1968
  • Assistant Attorney General, Massachusetts, 1963-1966
  • L.L.B., Harvard Law School, 1962
  • B.A., Harvard College, 1959

Counsel Comments

    • “Judge Cowin handled the actual mediation beautifully.”
    • “Judge Cowin is magnificent. Having him available was what JAMS did best.”



Practice Areas

  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
Available nationwide


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