Neutral Profile

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HON. LAURIE D. ZELON, RET.

  • Retired Court of Appeal Justice
  • Based in Orange County, available Nationwide
  • Available for Mediation, Arbitration, and Private Judging assignments

Introduction

Following more than 22 years on the bench, 19 of which were on the Court of Appeal, Justice Laurie Zelon has retired and is available to serve as a mediator, arbitrator, and private judge with a strong focus on arbitrations, private trials, special master assignments, neutral analysis, and appellate reviews.

Her reputation precedes her as a judge with acute attention to detail in reading, preparing, and decision making. She is also known for her approachability and mentorship and has often been referred to as a “salt of the earth” individual. These attributes combined with her experience as a trial lawyer specializing in high-stakes, large-scale commercial cases are tremendous assets in a variety of complex matters.

Justice Zelon described her approach to private dispute resolution stating, “My role as a neutral is to be an advocate for meaningful resolution by guiding individuals and organizations to understand their behavior and solve problems constructively. When people receive a hearing that they perceive as fair and conducted by a true neutral, they can resolve their dispute in a lasting manner.”

Practice Areas

  • Business Litigation
  • Governmental
  • Life Sciences
  • Environmental
  • Product Liability

Experience Summary

Throughout an impressive career on the bench spanning over two decades, Justice Zelon has been involved in a wide variety of cases.

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Hobbies & Interests

Justice Zelon loves to hike and travel and often travels to hike. She has hiked on three continents and four island countries. In quieter times, reading and music bring her joy. Throughout her career, she has volunteered in civic and legal organizations and provided pro bono legal service. That service is a personal obligation to the community that inspires her on an ongoing basis.

Experience Summary

FIDUCIARY DUTY AND PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATIONS


• Represented corporate entities at trial and appellate levels in multiple shareholder litigation matters, including the application of the business judgment rule


• Served as an expert witness concerning lawyer’s duty to clients and legal malpractice


GOVERNMENTAL OBLIGATIONS


• Represented a large bar association in litigation at trial and appellate levels concerning the relationship to the members and First Amendment rights


• Represented individuals at trial and appellate levels suing the government for restoration of constitutional rights


MEDICAL DEVICES


•Represented manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceutical products against claims of product failures and nondisclosures


ENVIRONMENTAL AND LAND USE


•Represented cities, counties, and redevelopment agencies in multi-party cases involving land use, redevelopment, and land subsidence


•Represented corporations in litigation concerning the performance of waste to energy and wind energy installations


•Represented a corporation in a toxic spill claim


•Heard appellate matters regarding EIR’s, HOA disputes, neighbor altercations and property claims, and CEQA claims


CONTRACT


•Litigated multiple breach of contract cases


•Presided as the trial judge in breach of contract matters


•Heard multiple appellate matters concerning breach of contract, arbitration clause disputes, UCL, deceptive advertising claims, class action determination, and attorney fees disputes


•Heard appellate matters concerning health care service plans


EMPLOYMENT


•Heard multiple appellate matters concerning FEHA, employment discrimination, and PAGA cases


PROBATE AND FAMILY


•Represented a family member in an intrafamily dispute over the distribution of the estate and will contest


•Heard appellate matters concerning restraining orders for elder abuse and spousal abuse


•Represented a client suing for Marvin rights


•Heard appellate matters concerning child custody and support


Legal Career

  • Full Time Neutral, Judicate West (2022-Present)
  • Assigned Justice, California Court of Appeal, Orange County (2021-2022)
  • Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Los Angeles (2003-2020)
  • Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court, criminal and civil departments (2000-2003)
  • Partner, Morrison & Foerster, complex commercial litigation (1991-2000)
  • Partner and Associate, Hufstedler, Kaus & Ettinger, complex litigation involving scientific and technical issues, and large-scale commercial disputes (1983-1991)
  • Associate, Beardsley, Hufstedler & Kemble, complex litigation involving scientific and technical issues, and large-scale commercial disputes (1977-1983)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D. Harvard Law School (1974-1977)
  • B.A. Cornell University (1970-1974)
  • California Women Lawyers Association, Member (1978-Present)
  • Administrative Office of the Courts and Judicial Council Committees (1997-Present)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, President President-Elect, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Board of Trustees (1977-Present)
  • California Commission on Access to Justice, Chair, Member, Ex Officio (1997-Present)
  • Women Lawyers’ Association of Los Angeles, Member (1977-Present)
  • American Bar Association, Member (1978-2009)
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Board of Directors (1997-2000)
  • Standing Committee on Discipline for the Central District of California, Member (1997-2000)
  • Lawyers Committee, National Center for State Courts, Member (1988-1991)

Achievements & Awards

  • The Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award (2010)
  • The Shattuck-Price Award (2009)
  • The Loren Miller Legal Services Award (2000)
  • The Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award (2000)
  • The Charles Dorsey Award, NLADA (1999)
  • The William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award (1993)
  • Publications include Jefferson’s California Evidence Benchbook (2020), Equal Access to Civil Justice: Pursuing Solutions Beyond the Legal Profession, 17 Yale Law & Social Policy Review 489 (1998); West California Litigation Forms: Civil Procedure Before Trial (1996)

Legal Experience

  • Business Litigation
  • Governmental
  • Life Sciences
  • Environmental
  • Product Liability

Recent Representative Cases