For over 30 years, Judge Joan Lewis has been committed to serving the legal community with compassion, deference, and toughness. During her 20-year judicial career as a Superior Court Judge, she spent five years in the Family Law Division and then presided over a Civil Independent Calendar for the last 15 years until her retirement. Throughout her time on the bench, she handled a multitude of settlement conferences in both the Civil and Family Law divisions. Prior to her appointment, Judge Lewis tried civil cases in private practice for 10 years, focused on representing healthcare professionals in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Judge Lewis has been consistently active in leadership positions on judicial committees, including serving on the court’s Executive Committee and as chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee. She has received numerous awards, including the Friend of the Community Award by the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association in recognition of her commitment to LGBTQ rights and, most recently, the Witkin Award for excellence in the practice of law and advancing access to justice.

Judge Lewis is well known for her thoughtful and fair command of the courtroom. A true people person, she is empathetic and compassionate while maintaining a position of neutrality. While there were many who did not want to see her leave the bench, it is a testament to her abilities and the amount of immense respect the legal community holds for her to see that she is being actively sought out as a neutral in the private sector.

Practice Areas
  • All Types of Medical Negligence
  • Business/Contractual
  • Catastrophic Personal Injury
  • Class Action
  • Employment
  • Family Law
Hobbies & Interests

In her spare time, Judge Lewis enjoys theatre, travel, tennis, and overall physical fitness activities.

Legal Career
  • Neutral, Judicate West (2019-Present)
  • Judge, Superior Court of San Diego County (1998-2018); Family Law Division (1998-2003); Civil Independent Calendar Judge (2003-2018) Civil Independent Calendar, Assistant Supervising Judge
  • Attorney and Partner, handling civil matters with a focus on medical malpractice, Lewis-Brisbois (1990-1998)
  • Attorney, Ault Deuprey (1987-1990)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., California Western School of Law (1984 -1987)
  • B.S., Arizona State University (1980)
  • San Diego Superior Court Executive Committee, Member
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), Judicial Advisory Board
  • California Judges Association (CJA), Executive Committee
  • Wallace Inns of Court, San Diego, CA, Master (2017-Present)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee, Chair
Achievements & Awards
  • Recipient, San Diego Defense Lawyers’ Bench and Bar Honoree (2019)
  • Recipient, Bernard E. Witkin, Esq. Award for Excellence in the Adjudication of Law (2017)
  • Recipient, Friend of the Community Award, Tom Homann LGBT Law Association (2014)
  • Co-Author with Heather Hanson, John Gross, Steven Garfin, M.D., “Legal Implications and Strategies for Managing Complications in Spinal Surgery,” Book Chapter: “Complications of Pediatric and Adult Surgery” (2004)
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Joan M. Lewis, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.

Family Law Issues

  • Judge Lewis spent five years in the Family Law division and handled settlement conferences.

Medical Malpractice

  • Prior to her appointment, Judge Lewis tried civil cases in private practice for 10 years, focused on representing healthcare professionals in medical malpractice lawsuits.

General Negligence

  • During her time on the bench, she handled a multitude of settlement conferences in all types of personal injury disputes.

PI Auto

  • She has successfully mediated numerous personal injury cases, encompassing a wide range of incidents such as auto accidents, slip and falls, premises liability, assault and battery, sexual assault, and wrongful death.
Judge Lewis dealt with a few difficult and somewhat emotional issues with great skill and poise. I have mediated with her many times before and will continue.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Case
I have the highest regard for Judge Lewis. I recommended her to opposing counsel, as I felt she would be an effective neutral in this case. While not yet resolved, I am very appreciative of her guidance and her skills in helping both sides make progress.
- Attorney Awarded San Diego’s Trial Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America
Joan Lewis is one of my favorite mediators. She has a ready grasp of the issues, the law, and the dynamics of the decision-makers. She might not tell me or my clients what we'd like to hear but I always value her candid assessment. Some mediators are more concerned about keeping everyone happy and coming back. In litigation, that isn't always possible. I value that Judge Lewis, after listening to all and reviewing the briefs, takes a firm position.
- Attorney on an Employment Wrongful Termination Case
Judge Lewis boiled down the dispute to its essential elements, addressed those head-on, and pushed firmly for a realistic resolution. The different Zoom rooms worked effectively and we were able to communicate efficiently.
- Attorney on a Commerical Employment Sexual Harassment Case
Appropriate temperament and outside-the-box thinking to resolve an emotionally charged and complex case with limited resources to achieve resolution.
- Founding Partner of a Southern California-Based Civil Litigation Firm
Judge Lewis did an excellent job bringing the parties to a settlement in a matter that had very sensitive issues and very disparate views on what the facts were. She saved both sides from a long, grueling litigation path that neither would have been happy to go down. Judge Lewis is an extremely capable mediator.
- Attorney on an Employment Sexual Harassment Case
She explained the process clearly to my client and did a good job listening to my client’s concerns.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto Case
Judge Lewis is experienced and very effective. This was a very difficult case and she was knowledgeable, patient, experienced, and effective. Highly impressive skills.
- Attorney on a Family Law Case
Hon. Joan M. Lewis, Ret.
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