Hon. Steven K. Austin (Ret.) joined ADR Services, Inc. in 2022 after a distinguished 23 years of judicial service as a Judge of the Superior Court for the County of Contra Costa.
Judge Austin was appointed to the bench by former Governor Pete Wilson in 1998. He served primarily in the Civil Department, with additional assignments in Family Law and Criminal Trials. For 13 years, Judge Austin managed a busy Civil Direct assignment caseload, where he was responsible for all case management, law and motion, discovery, settlement conferences, and trials. He became widely renowned for proactively and successfully settling his cases, conducting close to 1,000 settlement conferences over the course of his judicial career.
In addition, Judge Austin was deeply involved in Court leadership and worked tirelessly to promote better access to the court system for the underserved. He served six years as Civil Supervising Judge, five years as Supervising Judge of the Pittsburgh Branch, and served as a member of the Court’s Executive Committee for more than a decade. From 2013 to 2017, he served as the Court’s Assistant Presiding Judge and Presiding Judge. He was also an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Statewide Presiding Judges Advisory Committee and helped launch Community Homeless Court in 2008.
Judge Austin has been well recognized by the legal community for being a hardworking, and evenhanded judge with excellent legal acumen. He is a thoughtful jurist who appreciates the complexities and subtleties of each case before him and views everyone as a person rather than a problem, adding a humanizing element to each matter he handles. In 2022, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and he has been honored as Trial Judge of the Year by the San Francisco Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and twice by the Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association (ACCTLA).
Prior to his judicial career, Judge Austin was in private practice for 17 years specializing in personal injury, civil rights, insurance coverage and construction defect litigation. Judge Austin earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law.
Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa 1998-2021
Judge of the Superior Court
Buresh, Kaplan, Jang, Feller & Austin 1985-1998
Buresh, Kaplan, Jang, Feller & Austin
Cole & Scott 1985-1998
Judge Austin frequently served as faculty at education programs for judges, court staff and attorneys, speaking on such topics as General Civil Practice to E-Discovery and the use of CCP 638 and 639 references. He is committed to promoting civility and professionalism in the practice of law and has presented on that subject to judicial and attorney audiences on many occasions.
“Judge Austin was awesome. He treated all with respect, kindness, compassion, in such a way that he got this resolved. I wholeheartedly recommend Judge Austin and ADR Services, Inc. and I look forward to working with him in the future. Judge Austin cared about the case and me as counsel. And this made a huge difference in this case.”
“Great to see Judge Austin joining the ADR team. I have known Steve forever, and he is a terrific judge and an even better person. You could not have obtained a better person to add to the panel. Congratulations.”
“Judge Austin ran a great courtroom. Every party had a fair hearing or trial. He was a powerful voice for resolution of legal issues and treated all litigants with dignity and respect. He did not always agree with the position in our briefs, but he had a way of easing the blow. “Fairness” and “Intelligence” would be two words to describe him.”
“In my 47 years of practicing law in this county, Steve Austin was one of the best judges we have ever had. He was always courteous, listened to all sides carefully and frequently cut the tension with a great sense of humor. He never let the black robe go to his head.”