Hon. Peter H. Kirwan (Ret.)


Vcard Download LinkedIn

“Throughout my career, I have been committed to fair and effective dispute resolution, either through the traditional court process or through alternative dispute resolution procedures. Joining Signature Resolution as a neutral allows me to continue this mission, using my experience to help parties find common ground and achieve equitable outcomes. I'm eager to embark on this new role, facilitating constructive dialogue and contributing to the pursuit of fair solutions for all parties involved."

Case Administrator

Practice Areas

  • Business and Commercial Contracts
  • Civil Law
  • Construction
  • Employment
  • Family Law
  • Groundwater Litigation/SGMA/Water Rights
  • Insurance
  • Mass Tort
  • Professional Liability
  • Shareholder Derivatives
  • Trade Secrets
  • Wage & Hour


  • J.D., Santa Clara University School of Law
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley


Hon. Peter H. Kirwan’s legal journey is a testament to his dedication to justice and excellence. Inspired by his fascination with the law and the dynamics of a courtroom and driven by his competitive spirit, he embarked on a career that spans both private practice and the judiciary.

After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in political science and earning his juris doctorate from Santa Clara University Law School, Judge Kirwan entered the legal profession in 1986. His career as a civil litigator started with the Hoge, Fenton, Jones and Appel firm that same year, and in 2001, he and his partners co-founded the civil litigation firm of Needham, Davis, Kirwan and Young.

In 2006, Judge Kirwan’s path took a transformative turn when former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the Santa Clara County Superior Court. His judicial career began in the criminal division—misdemeanors, followed by an assignment to drug court, where he played a pivotal role in implementing California’s Proposition 36, offering addiction and recovery treatment instead of prison for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.

Judge Kirwan moved to the Court’s civil division in 2009, where he spent the next 14 years. During his time in the civil division, he handled a number of different assignments, including civil trials, civil case management, law and motion, writs and injunctive relief and complex litigation. Judge Kirwan served as the supervising judge of the civil division from 2012 to 2014 and then led the Court’s complex litigation department for three years. As head of the complex litigation department, he presided over some of the biggest legal battles in Silicon Valley, including numerous class action lawsuits, trade secret litigation, PAGA and employment litigation, groundwater rights lawsuits as well as a variety of other complex matters. His tenure in the civil division lasted 14 years, during which he earned recognition for his outstanding contributions to the legal community.

In 2017, Judge Kirwan was honored with the prestigious John D. Foley Trial Judge of the Year award by the Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, a testament to his exceptional judicial experience and commitment to fair and effective trial proceedings. Additionally, in 2023, he was voted Case Manager of the Year by the same association, further highlighting his dedication to case management excellence.

Judge Kirwan’s dedication to justice and fairness remained steadfast throughout his tenure on the bench. He approached each case with an open mind, patience, and a commitment to ensuring that every individual received fair treatment in his courtroom. During his time on the bench, he would continuously encourage the lawyers and the parties to meet, confer and collaborate to ensure that issues were addressed and resolved in the most efficient and practical way possible.

In addition to the courtroom, Judge Kirwan is a steadfast presence in the classroom. For 16 years, he has served as a dedicated adjunct professor at his alma mater Santa Clara University School of Law, teaching mediation and negotiation. Despite a demanding schedule, Judge Kirwan embraced the opportunity to teach, eager to share his knowledge and experience with the law students. He continues to make a significant impact in legal education through his dedication and passion for mentoring future legal professionals. He has been an active member of the Inns of Court for over thirty years, serving as its president in 2017-18 and currently sits on its executive committee. He is a frequent speaker at legal seminars and is a member of the CJER faculty, teaching other judges on specific areas of the law.

In 2024, Judge Kirwan embarked on a new chapter of his legal career by joining Signature Resolution as a mediator. Leveraging his extensive experience and skills as a neutral, he looks forward to facilitating dialogue, steering parties towards smart decisions, and ultimately, resolving disputes fairly and efficiently.

Judge Kirwan’s journey—from attorney to judge to mediator—underscores his adaptability, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to the principles of justice. His dedication to serving the community and resolving conflicts remains unwavering, whether in the courtroom or the mediation room.


  • Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Family Division (2023-2024)
  • Writs/Injunctive Relief, Santa Clara County Superior Court Civil Division (2020-2021)
  • Civil Case Manager, Santa Clara County Superior Court Civil Division (2011-2014; 2021-2023)
  • Civil Trial Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Civil Division (2009-2011; 2018-2020)
  • Complex Litigation Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Civil Division (2014-2017)
  • Civil Supervising Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Civil Division (2012-2014)
  • Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Drug Court (2008-2009)
  • Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Criminal Division-Misdemeanors (2006-2008)
  • Partner, Needham, Davis, Kirwan and Young (2001-2006)
  • Associate/Partner, Hoge, Fenton, Jones and Appel (1986-2001)

Professional Achievements and Memberships

  • Case Manager of the Year, Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers’ Association (2023)
  • Business Court Representative, Business Law Section of the American Bar Association (2019-2020)
  • John D. Foley Trial Judge of the Year, Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers’ Association (2017)
  • Member, American Business Trial Lawyers’ Association Board of Governors (2016-Present)
  • President, American Inns of Court (2016-2018)
  • Executive Board Member, American Inns of Court (1988-Present)