In 2018, after 21 years of distinguished service for the Orange County Superior Court, Judge Colaw retired and currently serves as a mediator, arbitrator, and private judge. 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 United States 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.
Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith
Product Liability including Pharmaceutical
All types of Personal Injury
General Maritime Law
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.
"Did a good job getting key information to the other side."
- Attorney on a Business/Contractual Dispute
"He was respectful toward the process and my client.. she respected his opinions."
- Attorney on a Premises Liability Matter
"Judge Colaw was great—I would definitely use him again. His understanding of the issues, approach to dealing with people, and demeanor were simply excellent. He is a rare find and I look forward to working with him again."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto Wrongful Death Matter
"J. Colaw listens to the parties and takes what they say and applies it to the case. He brings years of invaluable insight and experience to the mediation process. He is also very good at thinking outside of the box in ways to try to resolve the case."
- Attorney on a personal injury slip & fall matter
"He is a very well respected judge in the civil litigation field. His opinions have great weight not just with clients but attorneys as well."
- - Attorney on a Complex Business Contractual Matter
"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 dispute
"He really established a great deal of trust with our client."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto Matter
"Judge Colaw was kind and caring. He also was very clear in sharing his perspective of our case. He was an absolute blessing to me and my client."
- Attorney on a Construction Breach of Contract Matter
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)
Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), (2001-Present)
ABOTA Orange County Chapter, President (2012), Board Member (2006-2014)
Board Member, CAL-ABOTA (2011-2013)
Board or Judicial Advisory Board Member, Assoc. of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL); (2006-2018)
Member, Robert J. Banyard Inn of Court (1998-Present); President (2000)
Executive Committee of the Orange County Superior Court (2006-2015)
Board of Directors, California Judges Association (CJA); (2007 – 2010)
Board of Directors, Orange County Bar Association (OCBA); (1982-1996)
Member, California State Bar Committee on the Administration of Justice (1989-1992)
President, Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (1989)
President, Orange County Barristers (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