In 2018, after 21 years of distinguished service for the Orange County Superior Court, Judge Colaw retired and currently serves as a mediator. After 11 years on the General Civil Panel, Judge Colaw served for 9 years on the Complex Civil Panel, where he developed an unparalleled track record, presiding over a broad spectrum of challenging cases including employment class actions, construction defects, toxic torts, CEQA and other multi-party complex matters.

Judge Colaw is a long-time active member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)and Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL). He is the proud recipient of many judicial honors including several “Judge of the Year” awards from various organizations. Prior to serving on the bench, Judge Colaw was in private practice for 20 years representing both plaintiffs and defendants in all types of civil litigation. Judge Colaw, a U.S. Navy veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, is an alumnus of the Santa Clara University School of Law, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Practice Areas
  • All types of Personal Injury
  • Business/Contractual
  • Class Actions
  • Construction Defect
  • Environmental/CEQA
  • General Maritime Law
  • Insurance Coverage/Bad Faith
  • Mass Tort
  • Product Liability including Pharmaceutical
  • Professional Malpractice
Hobbies & Interests

Judge Colaw is a sports enthusiast who yearly in autumn travels to college football meccas for big games with his brothers and sons. He especially loves all classical music, most jazz, some pop, enjoys photography, bicycling, the beach, cooking French cuisine with his spouse, and travel anywhere, although especially the USA and Europe.

Legal Career
  • Neutral, Judicate West (2018-Present)
  • Judge, Superior Court, Orange County (1997-2018); Complex Civil Panel (2006-2010 and 2014-2017); General Civil Panel (1997-2005 and 2011-2013)
  • Partner, Hunt, Colaw & Adams, Civil Litigation (1993-1997)
  • Partner, Hunt & Colaw, Civil Litigation (1990-1992)
  • Partner, Hunt, Colaw & Roe, Civil Litigation (1985-1989)
  • Attorney, Vernon W. Hunt, Civil Litigation (1979-1984)
  • Attorney, Smith & Brissenden, Insurance Defense Litigation (1977-1979)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., University of Santa Clara Law School (1977)
  • B. A., Cum Laude, University of California, Los Angeles (1974)
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Member (ABOTA), (2001-Present)
  • ABOTA Orange County Chapter, President (2012), Board Member (2006-2014)
  • CAL-ABOTA, Board Member (2011-2013)
  • Assoc. of Business Trial Lawyers, Board or Judicial Advisory Board Member (ABTL); (2006-2018)
  • Robert J. Banyard Inn of Court, Member (1998-Present); President (2000)
  • Orange County Superior Court, Executive Committee (2006-2015)
  • California Judges Association, Board of Directors (CJA); (2007 – 2010)
  • Orange County Bar Association, Board of Directors (OCBA); (1982-1996)
  • California State Bar Committee on the Administration of Justice, Member (1989-1992)
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, President (1989)
  • Orange County Barristers, President (1983)
Achievements & Awards
  • George Francis Judicial Civility Award Recipient, American Board of Trial Advocates (2015)
  • Judicial Excellence & Integrity Award, Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (2004)
  • Judge of the Year, Business Trial Lawyer Section of Orange County Bar Association (2003)
  • Judge of the Year, American Board of Trial Advocates (2000)
  • Judicial Civility Award, Robert J. Banyard Inn of Court (1999)
  • Jerrold Oliver Award, Orange County Trial Lawyers Association
  • Lecturer/panelist for American Board of Trial Advocates, The Rutter Group, CEB, California Judicial Education Research, Orange County Bar Association, Orange County Superior Court Temporary Judge Program
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Thierry Patrick Colaw, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.


  • Business dispute between a sports agent business (an LLC plaintiff) and a multi-university sports conference and its related sports broadcasting channel (defendants).  The dispute focused on the plaintiff LLC's claims that defendants reneged on an oral agreement to pay commissions or at least quantum meruit for services rendered in setting up and facilitating a deal between the defendants and a 3rd party major national communications network for distribution and advertising rights at each university.
  • Plaintiff real estate professional sued alleged partner for failing to pay amounts owed under contracts for flipping real estate and partnership split of proceeds. Case settled for cash and real property.
  • A case involving a professional motor racing driver who contracted with apparel company. The apparel company promised to make payments over 3 years to the race car driver to market and advertise national product. Both sides say the other side repudiated the contract after just a few months with minimal efforts and no money paid.
  • Settled a slip-and-fall incident at a national restaurant chain location. Plaintiff seeks damages in the seven-figure range for a broken wrist and loss of earnings from work. Liability issue arose due to rainy weather, grease on the floor and lack of mats.

Wage and Hour

  • A Class Action for failure to pay wages to hourly workers in construction including overtime, penalties, meal & rest, failure to pay wages on termination accurately and timely, and PAGA, etc.

Bad Faith

  • Settled an Insurance Bad Faith case following an underinsured motorist claim from an auto accident. Case settled in the seven-figure range.

Catastrophic Injury

  • A toddler was severely injured when fell from the window of the 2nd floor to concrete below and suffered skull fractures, subdural hematoma, loss of sight in one eye, with residual learning and psychological disabilities as well.

Maritime Law

  • Maritime case on the high seas with severe brain injury to a seaman/sailor on commercial fishing trawler hit it the head by parted line with heavy metal fastener. Significant maritime law issues, i.e., no set-offs for prior settlement with other parties, no Howell number reduction or other collateral source reduction, all defendants jointly and severally liable for all economic and non-economic damages (No Prop 51 set-off or adjustment for non-economic damages), reverse Erie Doctrine applicable, i.e., Federal Maritime Substantive law applied, not California Substantive law.

Personal Injury

  • Negligence claim against major air carrier and airport facility re slip & fall with tendon injury complicated by alleged medical negligence by the physician with resultant drop-foot.

PI Auto

  • Catastrophic injuries to a bicyclist who crashed as an alleged result of the dangerous condition of public property in a bike lane. Type I indemnity clauses in Vendor contracts with city public entity.
  • A complicated auto versus motorcycle personal injury case with catastrophic injuries to a motorcyclist. The case was complicated by a potential bad faith claim by the defendant against his insurer for purportedly not promptly settling thereby exposing real property assets worth millions. Case settled after 3 days of mediation and follow-up phone conferences for multiple 7 figures.
  • A lawsuit by the parent of a student who had IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that required school busing him "curb to curb" rather than him walking home. Child struck by a car while walking home. Permanent brain injury with seizures and multiple other fractures and orthopedic problems.

PI Sexual Assault

  • A young alleged rape victim sues in civil court for date rape purportedly by an older male.

Premises Liability

  • Trip and fall of an elderly retired engineer who got foot entangled in wires of a mess of computers at a school polling place in Costa Mesa.
  • Settled a slip and fall against an American multinational retail corporation.
  • Severe genital and thigh burn injuries to a toddler in a restaurant from allegedly negligently placed hot water by the server. A sensitive case involving potential and alleged negligence of the mother.

Wrongful Death

  • Two Pilots of Defendant manufacturer helicopter killed in alleged "mast-bumping" incident crash in alleged high turbulence area. Design defects in mast hub alleged by Pilots families' attorneys, defendant manufacturer contended no defects, instead crash was due to pilot error operating at excess speed for turbulent conditions and over-application of controls.
  • Death of a young crane operator when the brake line of a crane dolly was disconnected crushing him between Crane rig and dolly. Survived by wife and baby. Significant comp lien, and claims of employer negligence as well as claims of comparative. Plaintiff claimed strict product liability for defective design and cost-benefit analysis prong of Barker v. Lull.
  • Mediated a very sad, complicated, and sensitive case of a teenage girl who was killed when struck by a car. The case previously settled with the driver who struck and killed the girl for six figures, however this current settlement now was paid by insurance.
Hon. Thierry Patrick Colaw, Ret. is an exceptional, professional, and knowledgeable mediator. Our firm can't express enough how much we appreciate and value him as a mediator. We always look forward to working with him.
- Attorney With Over Four Decades of Personal Injury Law Experience
Judge Colaw should wear glasses and then he would be like Clark Kent, with a Superman costume underneath. Really worked a miracle on this one, before any litigation was filed.
- Partner at a Nationwide Business Litigation Firm
He was respectful toward the process and my client.. she respected his opinions.
- Attorney on a Premises Liability Case
Judge Colaw has quickly become one of the best mediators in Southern California; Liked and respected by both sides.
- Attorney on a Wrongful Death Premises Case
He was attentive, he really worked at the process the facts, the law + getting to areas of resolution + eventual settlement.
- Attorney on a Premises Liability Case
Good listener. Effective listener & communicator. No sugarcoating – appreciated that. Quite likable.
- Attorney on a Real Property Case
Judge Colaw did a truly remarkable job in getting our portion of the case settled against great odds.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Case
We appreciated your preparation, our early discussions as to the facts and strategy, and your concerted efforts throughout the day to keep everyone on track for a resolution. A constant was your effort to provide good advice and creative options, and to stay the course to try to move past certain issues; Not the easiest set of discussions, and you handled it far more gracefully than warranted.
- President and Founder of a Civil Litigation Firm in Orange County
Hon. Thierry Patrick Colaw, Ret.
Based in Orange County
Case Manager: Laura Finley