HON. JAMES A. STEELE (RET.)
Hon. James Steele brings over 35 years of legal experience as a civil trial lawyer, in-house counsel, and Superior Court judge to his work helping clients resolve disputes.
Judge Steele is a founding principal and member of Benchmark Resolution Group, LLC. He has over 35 years of legal experience as a transactional lawyer, trial lawyer, in-house counsel for both public and private companies, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge. He has a reputation for being thoroughly prepared as well as highly creative. He is available to assist parties in mediation, arbitrations, as well as judicial trial and discovery references. In the first three years since his retirement, Judge Steele has been involved in the resolution of over 500 disputes totaling well over $1 billion in controversy.
Judge Steele is highly regarded for his ability to quickly grasp highly complex and technical areas of law and fact and his ability to effectively communicate those complexities to others. With his unique blend of in-house counsel, private law practice, and judicial experience, Judge Steele has developed broad-based expertise across the law and an intensely practical and creative approach to resolving disputes. Judge Steele recognizes the critical importance of the role counsel plays in the process and works closely with them and their clients on a collaborative basis.
At the time of his retirement from the Los Angeles Superior Court in late 2014, he was one of the Probate Division’s most respected trial judges where he was known for being extraordinarily well organized, efficient, thorough, respectful, and fair to parties and counsel. He was also the architect and Committee Chair of the court’s highly successful Central District Probate Settlement Program, for which he was repeatedly recognized. His prior assignment was in an individual calendar (“IC”) court presiding over civil calendar and law and motion matters as well as numerous bench and jury trials in all areas of the law. Judge Steele was also elected by his fellow judges to serve for two years on the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Executive Committee, and was among the first to be asked to serve as one of the original members on the court’s Technology Committee. Judge Steele was also the architect and Committee Chair of the court’s highly successful Pro Bono Probate Settlement Program which continues to serve the community.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Steele worked for major corporations as in-house Staff Counsel and Assistant General Counsel before rising to the position of General Counsel. He thereafter joined a Century City based law firm and later established his own firm emphasizing banking, business, commercial, contract, corporate law, construction, and real estate.
For 20 years, Judge Steele taught a construction law course through UCLA Extension’s Construction Management Program and regularly guest lectured at the USC School of Architecture. In 2014 he created The Rutter Group’s Construction Law Program for Thomson Reuters Publishing.
Judge Steele is now a much sought-after speaker by bar associations, corporate law departments, and other organizations. His speaking engagements have included the West Coast Casualty Conference, the USC Trusts & Estates Conference, various Los Angeles County Bar Association sponsored events, and AOC and JES Continuing Education programs for judicial officers, as well as a number of The Rutter Group programs pertaining to recent developments in the law.