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The Miami office of the JAMS dispute resolution firm will soon be adding a federal magistrate judge to its arsenal of mediators. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ted Bandstra will change offices Jan. 28, just a weekend removed from his Jan. 25 retirement. He is the first South Florida federal judge to switch to a dispute resolution firm. “I feel like a kid again, starting something new after 23 years,” Bandstra said. “People that know me say, ‘You’re just so excited about this.’ Yes, I am.” Earlier this month, he attended JAMS training in New York with former Chief Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Joseph Farina, who left the circuit bench in August for the private sector. “There’s a presumption that we know what we’re doing, but in my case I think there’s still a lot to learn,” Bandstra said. “Really, as a judge we’re not trained to handle cases — we just do them.” Bandstra, 64, said federal judges have known about JAMS for years, and when company officials announced they would open in Miami this summer, he contacted the firm. “The normal course for [federal] judges is just to stay on the bench,” said Bandstra, noting he will still be paid his full $160,080 salary as an annuity after leaving. But he said his third eight-year term is nearing an end, and he wasn’t sure he would enjoy being a magistrate when he’s 74. “I don’t know that I want to commit myself that far out,” he said. Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno said Bandstra would make an excellent mediator. “He’s got the perfect temperament, and he’s very popular among the lawyers,” Moreno said. “I wish I could talk him into staying.” Another person sad to see him go is Rosy Gallardo, his assistant since 1986. “Do you know any top-notch attorneys looking for a good legal secretary?” she asked. Bandstra meandered his way to the legal profession. Out of college he took a job with the Grand Rapids, Michigan, police force for four years. “As a 21-year-old it was a challenge, but it was also exciting,” he said. He returned to college to get a teaching credential and taught for four years at Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay. He went back to college for a master’s in school psychology but shifted instead to law. Along the way he met his wife, Emmalee, a physician on the faculty at the University of Miami. Their daughter, Bethany, is a first-year law student at the University of Miami. Bandstra’s legal experience includes three years with Katten Muchin in Chicago followed by three more as an assistant U.S. attorney trying 30 cases under Stanley Marcus. He also spent three years at Fowler White Burnett handling medical malpractice for firm shareholder and co-founder Henry Burnett. “Henry’s my mentor and the person I respect most,” Bandstra said. He said his experience as a magistrate can help sparring sides see their legal situation more realistically. “One of the things I’ve enjoyed most as a judge is the settlement of cases where I’ve had some input,” Bandstra said. After South Florida’s district judges chose Bandstra as a magistrate in 1989, U.S. District Judge Eugene Spellman telephoned to welcome him with two interesting details. “First of all, you weren’t my first choice,” Bandstra recalled him saying. “That took me back a little bit. “The other thing was, ‘You should know you got the judges’ vote on the first ballot, which has never happened.’ ”

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