Judge Wagner has 30 years' experience in conducting ADR processes. In 1997, he left the Federal bench to become the Director of the Irell & Manella ADR Center, where he engaged in a full-time practice as a neutral. He previously served for 12 years as a U. S. Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of Oklahoma. He was appointed to this position at age 31, after trying many substantial cases to verdict as litigation partner with Kornfeld & Franklin. While on the Federal bench, he founded and administered a court-annexed mediation program and served as an ADR neutral, in addition to maintaining a full civil caseload.
Judge Wagner has successfully conducted thousands of mediations and arbitrations. He is respected and requested for his extensive experience and skill in resolving multi-party, and extremely complex issues in cases involving intellectual property, construction defect, environmental and mass torts, as well as securities and consumer class actions. He has also earned a reputation for handling matters with a high emotional content including employment, civil rights, partnership dissolution plus all types of business, insurance and personal injury disputes.
One client commented "Judge Wagner offers a unique combination of federal bench and private practice experience. With this experience and his calm and even handed disposition he earned credibility with everyone." Both plaintiff and defense concur Judge Wagner is knowledgeable, intelligent, creative, perceptive and works relentlessly to resolve disputes.
In his spare time, Judge Wagner enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, who share in his interest in muscle cars, backpacking, chess and travel.
"From his introduction, to the close of the day, Judge Wagner was the epitome of a mediator. On a very difficult liability case with horrific injuries, he delicately found the middle ground guiding the parties to what will resolve a truly difficult case. One of the most compelling attributes of Judge Wagner is his compassion and relating to clients. Because of Judge Wagner my clients came away from the experience with new respect for the legal system and mediation."
- Attorney, Inland Empire, California
"I am writing to express my gratitude and to describe my experience with Judge Wagner. Judge Wagner is as accomplished and hard working mediator who agreed to take our case despite a full schedule. Two prior mediations on the case were fruitless. Despite this, he calmly and strategically mapped out a plan to satisfy nine different parties. Through strict dedication, Judge Wagner was able to keep the parties engaged, where many other mediators would have simply quit. My hat is off to Judicate West, and specifically to John Leo Wagner."
- Attorney, Inland Empire, California
"Judge Wagner was patient when appropriate, firm when he needed to be and "acted like a judge" when that was needed, and that was very helpful in the process. I loved his methodology for reducing plaintiff's demands and increasing defendant's offers."
- Attorney, Orange County, California
"The experience was overall positive. I felt that Judge Wagner was a very professional and helpful mediator. "
- Attorney on an Employment Wrongful Termination case
"Judge Wagner was excellent! This was a difficult case with a lot of emotion, and no one thought it would actually settle. He immediately gained credibility with the client under difficult circumstances."
- Attorney on a Business/Contractual Matter
"Judge Wagner was simply outstanding. I will use him again for sure."
- Attorney on a Complex Commercial Matter
"He took the time to listen and proposed creative resolutions."
- Attorney on a Complex Commercial Dispute
"Thank you again for your all your help today; we really appreciate it. I spoke with opposing counsel after the mediation and they thought it was a great idea that we suggested you to mediate the case. He was really impressed and (like us) thought highly of you."
- - Attorney on a Consumer Class Action Dispute
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