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AFFILIATION: JAMS since 1994 DATE OF BIRTH: Nov. 23, 1931 LAW SCHOOL: Santa Clara University School of Law PREVIOUS LEGAL EXPERIENCE: California Supreme Court justice, 1985 to 1994. Edward Panelli’s not cheap. But many lawyers who’ve used him to mediate their disputes still line up to pay the former California Supreme Court justice $7,500 a day to help resolve complex cases. In fact, he’s booked through the end of the year, and about 75 percent of his business comes from repeat customers or referrals. Panelli left the state Supreme Court in 1993 after eight years as a conservative-leaning justice, becoming a full-time neutral. He joined the ADR provider JAMS in 1994. His reputation preceded him. “There was a certain reluctance to use me, I guess, based on my opinions,” Panelli said. But that changed quickly, he added, when a plaintiff-side insurance lawyer came away from a mediation session happy with Panelli’s performance. Since then, Panelli said, he’s been in higher demand by plaintiff lawyers than defense counsel. That includes some of the best-known lawyers in the state, who say Panelli’s effectiveness is bolstered by a conservative reputation that pleases opposing counsel. They also seem to like him as a person. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily his legal ability or his people ability” that makes him so effective, said Thomas Girardi, a partner at Girardi and Keese in Los Angeles who has used Panelli several times. In more than one instance, Girardi said, “We walked out with quite a bit less than we thought we wanted and we felt good about it.” That sentiment was echoed by several lawyers, including David Goodwin, a partner at Heller Ehrman in San Francisco. “If there’s something bad with your case, he’s not afraid to tell you,” Goodwin said. “I remember once there was a weakness in my case, and he pointed it out and said, ‘you have a weakness and you should settle because you’ll never win in trial.’ And he was right, and we settled.” Panelli is especially well-liked for his willingness � after listening to both sides � to tell people what he thinks a case is worth. Such suggestions, lawyers said, are often followed by both sides. Goodwin, Girardi and other repeat Panelli customers said they like Panelli for his experience, gentle style and ability to gauge the value of cases ranging from celebrity personal injury claims to $100 million-plus employment class actions. “He’s street-smart,” said plaintiff lawyer Joseph Cotchett Jr., a partner at Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy in Burlingame. “He sits, he listens, he has a basic idea of where the equities fall. And he’s basically conservative.” The fact that Panelli listens � and that he spends time before a mediation reviewing a case’s facts � is apparently not as common as one would think. Several lawyers pointed it out as the quality that most distinguishes him from other neutrals. They said his preparation is particularly important, letting him get to the heart of a dispute with efficiency. “He’s fairly quick,” Goodwin said. “A lot of mediators drive you nuts because they go on and on.” Panelli expects a similar commitment to a swift resolution from the people whose dispute he’s trying to resolve, and finds it annoying when people try to stand on principle. “When people tell me that, I go to the board and write ‘in this process, principle is spelled principal,’” he said. Like many other attorneys, Goodwin first came across Panelli in complex insurance suits. The reason for that is twofold: First, as a Supreme Court justice, Panelli authored several important decisions that established bad-faith case law. And second, Panelli joined JAMS three months after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. That event set the trajectory for his second career: he has mediated hundreds of disputes relating to the quake, some of which are ongoing. And the years of work in Southern California have built a large client base there. “I live up here and sat up here, but I do most of my work in Los Angeles,” he said. Panelli often spends two days a week in Los Angeles, frequently holding an eight-hour mediation or arbitration followed by a 5 to 9 p.m. nighttime mediation each day. Panelli said the extensive work in Southern California has brought him new types of cases. Over the last two years, he’s handled a series of lawsuits brought by celebrities who want to keep their litigation out of the public eye. And he’s also seeing an increasing number of employment class actions after mediating wage/hour cases against insurance companies that each settled for more than $100 million. Panelli, 73, works six days a week, and said his work ethic won’t allow him to cut his hours any time soon. Born into a family of Italian immigrants in Santa Clara, Panelli moved with his family back to Italy as an infant, returning five years later because his father did not want to live under then-dictator Benito Mussolini. After building up a law practice, Panelli joined the Santa Clara County bench as a superior court judge in 1972. In 1983, he joined the First District Court of Appeal, and was named presiding judge of the Sixth District Court of Appeal the following year. He was named to the Supreme Court in 1985. “I came from a family that was uneducated, not English-speaking, so to be a judge was a very big deal,” he said. It was also a big pay cut. And the modest salary continued until he left the Supreme Court. Work at JAMS has helped counter that, allowing Panelli and his wife to buy a vacation home. And, Panelli said, he still enjoys the work and feels tremendously comfortable with it. “My sense is I could mediate a case involving my brother,” he said. “You try to suggest to people what is the best result for both sides.”

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