Neutral Profile



  • Based in San Diego, available in All of California
  • Available for Mediation and Arbitration assignments


Judge Joel Pressman served the legal community as a civil trial attorney and judge for over 45 years and is now available to serve as a mediator, arbitrator, and private judge. As an attorney, he represented plaintiffs and defendants in diverse civil litigation matters, including international matters in the state and federal courts, and is a longtime member of ABOTA. As a judge, he earned himself a reputation as a practical and knowledgeable settlement judge and mediator in hundreds of cases, including complex cases statewide. As an independent civil trial calendar judge, he was responsible for managing a caseload of over 1,000 diverse civil cases. Judge Pressman also served as a leader in the court as Supervising Judge of the Vista Superior Court and also spent many of those years on the Court Executive Committee. He is regarded as a judge with common sense, practical experiences, and a genuine understanding of the dynamics of difficult cases and clients as well as the related costs (financial and otherwise) of litigation. As both a trial lawyer and a judge, he presided over the trials of catastrophic personal injury cases, business and commercial disputes, medical and legal malpractice matters, employment wage and hour, harassment, ADA, and civil rights. Judge Pressman has extensive experience in insurance coverage, insurance bad faith, and real estate litigation and class actions, including antitrust actions.

According to Judge Pressman, "I see private dispute mediation as a continuation of those aspects of my judicial career which I found most satisfying and in which I was most successful. To resolve a dispute without the emotional and monetary cost of trial is a wonderful thing."

Practice Areas

  • Complex Business/Contractual
  • Employment
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Real Estate/HOA
  • All Types of Personal Injury
  • Class Actions
  • Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith
  • Elder Abuse
  • Intellectual Property
  • Construction Defect

Experience Summary

Notable case Judge Pressman oversaw as a superior court judge

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Hobbies & Interests

In his spare time, Judge Pressman has a passion for traveling to exotic places, music, theatre, opera, and exploring natural parks and beaches.


"Judge Pressman listened to our client’s concerns and that was critical to the settlement."
- Attorney on an Employment/Discrimination Dispute

"Educating opposing counsel and party regarding unrealistic expectations."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Construction Dispute

"Judge Pressman was thoroughly prepared, and extremely forthright in his evaluations of the parties' positions, and of the practical considerations the parties needed to factor into their decision-making. This was a difficult case, which I thought had no chance of settling. I am deeply impressed with the job Judge Pressman did."
- Attorney on a Civil Rights Matter

"Judge Pressman was awesome as always."
- Attorney on an Elder Abuse case

"While [his] experience as a trial lawyer and judge was obviously instrumental in bringing the parties together to arrive at a compromise, I was most impressed with the kindness, compassion, patience, and respect that you showed to our client. I am glad that I never have to go against [him] as a lawyer. I am disappointed that I never had the opportunity to try a case in [his] courtroom. But, I look forward to mediating many cases with [him] in the future."
- Attorney on an Employment/Discrimination Dispute

"He was very well prepared and treated all parties and counsel professionally. He tried and stuck with us throughout a very difficult and sensitive effort to resolve things."
- Attorney on a Business Fraud & Misrepresentation Matter

"Judge Pressman established a great rapport with my client, he listened, and he properly discovered the motivations of each party."
- Attorney on a Real Property/Landlord Tenant Dispute

"Judge Pressman was great, as always."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Slip & Fall Matter

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Experience Summary

Dremak vs. Urban Outfitters

Consumer class action alleging violation of zip code statute requiring retailer to refrain from requesting a zip code until the transaction is finished.

Alaburda vs. Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Consumer class action law student alleged fraud and misrepresentation by the school in publishing post-graduate employment figures.

Alpine High School District vs. Grossmont Union High School District

Lawsuit alleging the misuse of school bond funds, which bond was passed by voters to build a high school in Alpine. Lawsuit sought to require funds be allocated to build the high school.

Cold Therapy Cases – Fleishmann

Nationwide class action. Plaintiff alleged failure to properly warn consumer of cold therapy devices. Improper product warning and design allegedly caused sever harm to users of the product.

De Anza Cove Home Owners vs. City of San Diego

Class action by tenants of mobile home park owned by City of San Diego on Mission Bay. This lawsuit lasted for ten years. Tenants alleged that they were entitled o relocation damages from city.

Pointe SDMU vs. County of San Diego

Major subdivision, highway location and use permits in largest mapping parcel in East San Diego County. Issues were damages flowing from map modification and conditions.

Hickman vs. Hardrock

Plaintiff injured while attending concert during which disc jockey leapt from the stage and landed on plaintiff causing traumatic spinal injury.

Atlas-Allied vs. San Diego Community College

Lawsuit for breach of construction contract alleging non-payment for as-built extras to contract.

Percy vs. Serco, Inc.

Aviation catastrophic wrongful death in which two private planes crash, allegedly caused by control tower negligence. All cases were brought together and resolved.

Harris vs. Zoological Society of San Diego Superior Court

Wrongful termination lawsuit alleging discrimination and failure to accommodate.

Reynoso vs. Eye Surgery Center Tri-City

Medical malpractice alleging significant damages arising from medical negligence and supervisor.

Vasquez vs. The Regents of the University of California

Medical malpractice involving minor.

Alvarez vs. Kmart

Consumer protection class action litigation.

Harley-Davidson vs. California Franchise Tax Board

Constitutional challenge (Commerce Clause) to California Tax Code re: interstate unitary businesses.

Pala Band of Mission Indians vs. California Dept. of Resources and Recycling

Mandamus action involving interpretation of Waste Management Act and the Gregory Landfill.

Diaz vs. City of Chula Vista

Employment discrimination involving public employee.

Legal Career

  • Judge, Superior Court, San Diego (2002-17)
  • Civil Independent Calendar Judge (2010-17)
  • Executive Committee of Court (2008-14)
  • Supervising & Assisting Judge, North County Branch (2006-10)
  • Criminal & Civil, North County Branch (2002-10)
  • Partner, Kolodny & Pressman, APC, San Diego (1983-01)
  • Partner, Hadfield, Van Berolding, Graubart & Pressman, San Francisco (1972-82)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D., Hastings College of Law (1972)
  • B. A., University of California Berkeley (1969)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, ABTL (1992 – Present) Executive Committee/Board of Directors (2012-Present)
  • Settlement Conference Dynamics, Pepperdine University School of Law/Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution
  • Lopardo American Inn of Court, Member (2002-10)
  • ABOTA, Member (1999-Present)

Achievements & Awards

  • AV/Preeminent rating with Martindale Hubbell
  • In 2017, Judge Pressman was awarded Judge of the Year by both Consumer Attorneys of San Diego and San Diego Defense Lawyers. He is the only judge in history to receive this honor from both plaintiff and defense attorneys in the same year.
  • Bernard Witkin Award, San Diego Law Library Foundation (2015)
  • Outstanding Trial Lawyer, San Diego Trial Lawyers (1992)

Legal Experience

  • Complex Business/Contractual
  • Employment
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Real Estate/HOA
  • All Types of Personal Injury
  • Class Actions
  • Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith
  • Elder Abuse
  • Intellectual Property
  • Construction Defect

Recent Representative Cases