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Hon. James Steele (Ret.) brings more than 35 years of legal experience as a civil trial lawyer, in-house counsel and Superior Court judge to his work resolving disputes.


Alisa Martinez


Judge Steele has more than 35 years of legal experience as a transactional lawyer, trial lawyer, in-house counsel for both public and private companies, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge. He serves as a mediator, arbitrator, discovery referee and special master. Since becoming a neutral, Judge Steele has overseen more than 1,000 disputes, totaling well in excess of  $2 billion in controversy.  On numerous occasions, he has been called upon to mediate complex, multi-party disputes throughout the United States.

Judge Steele is highly regarded for his ability to quickly grasp highly complex and technical areas of law and fact, as well as his ability to effectively communicate those complexities to others. With his unique blend of in-house counsel, private law practice, and judicial experience, Judge Steele has developed practical and creative approach to resolving disputes. Judge Steele recognizes the critical importance of the role counsel plays in the process and works closely with them and their clients on a collaborative basis.

At the time of his retirement from the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2014, after having served on the Court’s Executive Committee and in various assignments including presiding over an IC, general jurisdiction courtroom, he was one of the probate division’s most respected trial judges. He was also the architect and Committee Chair of the court’s highly successful Central District Probate Settlement Program, which continues to this day to serve the public and legal community. Judge Steele was honored by the Bar Association with its Administration of Justice Award for his Settlement Program work.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Steele worked for major corporations as in-house staff counsel and assistant general counsel before rising to the position of general counsel. He joined a Century City-based law firm and later established his own firm where he handled financial, construction, real estate, construction and corporate law matters. 

Judge Steele is also a much sought-after speaker by bar associations, corporate law departments and other organizations. His speaking engagements have included the West Coast Casualty Conference, the USC Trusts & Estates Conference, various Los Angeles County Bar Association sponsored events, and AOC and JES Continuing Education programs for judicial officers, as well as many of The Rutter Group programs.


  • ADR Services, Inc., Neutral (2014-2017)
  • The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Judge (2007-2014)
  • Steele & Persoff, Founding Attorney (1989-2007)
  • Rosen, Wachtell & Gilbert, Of Counsel (1988-1990)
  • In-House Corporate Law Departments, Staff Attorney, Assistant General Counsel, General Counsel (1977-1988)


  • The Rutter Group’s Construction Law Program, Author
  • UCLA Construction Law & Management, Lecturer
  • USC Construction Law & Management, Lecturer


  • Diploma in Tax Law, University of San Diego School of Law
  • M.B.A. (Real Estate), University of Southern California 
  • J.D., California Western School of Law
  • B.A., San Diego State University 


Alisa Martinez