Michael G. Balmages, Esq. is an accomplished mediator and discovery referee with extensive experience as a trial lawyer, general counsel, and transactional lawyer. As a mediator and as a neutral, he has had great success in helping litigants resolve their disputes in more than 1,500 cases. His friendly nature and ability to find common ground contribute to his easy rapport with litigants and their attorneys, while his determination to get cases settled is evident at each hearing. He is committed to exploring every option available to the parties to develop creative solutions to dispute resolution.

Mr. Balmages’ mediation experience is supplemented by his broad experience as a civil litigator, corporate general counsel, and transactional attorney. He has tried over 75 cases, taken more than 1,000 depositions, and negotiated and drafted more than 1,000 contracts. He has extensive experience with business entities, including the formation, dissolution, and merger of such entities, and the negotiation and drafting of numerous contracts and deal documents. Mr. Balmages has been rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell for over 30 years.


Counseled and represented business entities and individuals in employment, business and real estate litigation.

BALMAGES & DAVIDSON       2005-2013
Counseled and represented business entities and individuals in employment, business and real estate litigation.

LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL G. BALMAGES     1987-1988; 1993-2005
Represented and advised several major business entities on a diverse variety of business, employment and litigation issues.

Represented numerous local business clients in litigation with a strong emphasis in employment litigation.

MICHAEL G. BALMAGES, INC.      1977-1984
Specialized in business planning and litigation. Developed significant expertise in employment law.

KINDEL & ANDERSON       1972-1977
As an associate, worked in both the corporate and litigation departments. Drafted contracts and pleadings for senior lawyers and made court appearances.


As a private mediator, Mr. Balmages has mediated over 500 cases, specializing in business, employment, and real estate disputes. He has also conducted over 200 mediations for Superior Court and Federal Court ADR programs. He was Chair of the Orange County Bar Association’s ADR Section for 2016 and served as Vice-Chair for 2015. He has also been appointed as discovery referee in more than a dozen Superior Court cases.


As a neutral Mr. Balmages has settled:

  • Hundreds of business litigation cases, including breach of contract, unfair competition, business dissolution, trade secrets.
  • Dozens of employment cases, including FEHA, wage and hour (classification, minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest periods), harassment, discrimination, disability.
  • Numerous cases involving claims against municipalities and other governmental agencies.
  • Many IP cases involving trademarks and copyrights.
  • Dozens of Americans with Disability Act cases.
  • Dozens of slip and fall cases.
  • Dozens of auto v. auto/pedestrian cases.
  • Numerous medical/dental/professional negligence.
  • Numerous eviction cases.
  • Numerous foreclosure cases.


Mr. Balmages served as outside counsel to several medium-size companies, most notably Medstone International, Inc., a publicly-traded medical products manufacturer; Phygen, LLC, a medical products manufacturer; Orange County Nursery, Inc., a grower and seller of trees; and Superior Crankshaft, LP, a manufacturer of race-car crankshafts. He advised senior management on employment, business, real estate and litigation issues, and negotiated and drafted major business documents.

Mr. Balmages started representing “Op”, then the world’s largest surfwear apparel brand, in 1980 and became in-house General Counsel in 1988. As General Counsel, he advised senior management on all legal, financial, and political aspects of the international apparel business; negotiated and drafted all major transactional documents; managed litigation and outside counsel; managed Chapter 11 proceedings; supervised in-house lawyers and paralegals; managed its worldwide intellectual property assets, including more than 1,000 trademarks; and performed all other general counsel functions.


  • University of California, Irvine – Certificate in Conflict Management and ADR    2005
  • University of California, Berkeley – J.D.    1972
  • California State University, Fullerton – B.A.    1969

Mr. Balmages is admitted to practice in California and before the United States Supreme Court; the Ninth Circuit; and the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California.


Mr. Balmages is a frequent speaker and lecturer for California Continuing Education of the Bar, the Orange County Bar Association, and various other professional groups. He remains available to give MCLE-qualified presentations to professional groups through ADR Services, Inc., a State Bar certified MCLE provider. For a full list of his speaking engagements, please visit his website at


Mr. Balmages and his wife, Mary, have three children and eight grandchildren. Mr. Balmages has lived in Orange County since 1958.  He is the lead astronomer for the Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo.

Representative Cases


  • Wage and hour. Was the executive chef an exempt employee?
  • Wrongful Termination of Software salesperson; fraud; retaliation
  • Wrongful termination and related claims by a truck driver against staffing company and the actual employer
  • Failure to Accommodate
  • Disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in interactive process
  • Wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment case against an engineering firm.
  • Race discrimination against brokerage company.
  • Engineering firm suing its former administrative assistant for embezzling company assets.
  • Represented international sports shoe company in defense of numerous termination, discrimination, and harassment claims in California over a 10-year period.
  • Represented national child-care center company in defense of numerous termination, discrimination, and harassment claims in California.
  • Represented offensive coordinator of major university football team in response to harassment and discrimination charges.
  • Represented Santa Ana based law firm in wrongful termination and wage and hour case against it by former employee.
  • Represented Los Angeles County based metallurgical testing firm against claims of race discrimination and national origin discrimination.
  • Represented Orange County manufacturer of lithotripters (kidney stone smashers) against sexual harassment and wrongful termination claims.
  • Represented two nurses suing major Orange County beach area hospital for wrongful termination.
  • Represented former employee suing well-known Orange County amusement park for wrongful termination.
  • Represented former officer of Orange County based hamburger company for wrongful termination.
  • Represented former Senior Executive Vice-President of Orange County based international engineering firm for wrongful termination after he was terminated shortly after he divorced the CEO’s sister.
  • Represented the apartment owner/defendants in wrongful termination and wage and hour claims brought by former live-in apartment manager.
  • Represented retail chain store clothing company in employment discrimination case by former employee who claimed that she was terminated for taking medical leave.
  • Represented teenage employee of retail store clothing chain against her former employer for false imprisonment, assault and battery.
  • Represented manager of nationwide drug store chain who was sued for assault, battery, and sexual harassment.
  • Represented medical products manufacturer against its former head of sales who alleged wrongful termination and unfair competition.
  • Was principal investigator of approximately 20 employment complaints by employees against various school districts and community colleges.

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  • Represented founding partner of major Orange County law firm against his former partners and firm for money due upon retirement based on breach of contract and elder abuse.
  • Represented former head of construction of major Orange County builder who was being sued for usurpation of corporate opportunities and malfeasance.
  • Represented Orange County manufacturer of spinal surgery implants against claims of breach of contract and unfair competition.
  • Represented trustee of estate of deceased lawyer in a dispute over the sale of a his law practice that involved the plaintiff's claims of fraud and the defendants’ and cross-complainants’ claims of breach of contract.
  • Represented Trustee in family member dispute over disposition of trust assets.
  • Represented executives of nationwide mortgage lender against founder of company for breach of contract and fraud.
  • Represented medical products R&D company in breach of contract claim by a consultant who claimed he was entitled to money and stock.
  • Represented medical products company in numerous breach of contract actions against its suppliers.
  • Represented apparel company in breach of contract lawsuits against its licensees.
  • Represented “baseball hat” manufacturer in several lawsuits with is suppliers.
  • Represented majority shareholders in corporate dissolution action of family held corporation brought by one group of cousins against another group of their cousins.
  • Represented former employee of metallurgical testing firm who went to work for a competitor against claims of theft of trade secrets and unfair competition.

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  • Suit against seller and escrow bases on early release of funds to seller.
  • Water intrusion
  • Failure to disclose/negligence/breach of contract against both brokers and home inspection company.
  • Fraud in connection with home sale; nondisclosure of urine and feces smell and mold.
  • Return of deposit on business condo purchase.
  • Suit by seller against buyers, both sets of brokers and third-party hard money lender re default by buyer.
  • Claim by city against homeowner regarding failure to comply with inverse condemnation agreement.
  • Former spouses suing over joint ownership of property, repayment of expenses and fraud.
  • Claim by Trustee/Landlord against former tenant/beneficiary of trust for past due rent, destruction of premises and environmental contamination.
  • Represented former owner of major Fountain Valley apartment complex against buyer’s claims of fraud and breach of contract.
  • Represented trustee in probate petition to determine interest in real property. It was a battle of a 3rd wife against her step-children.
  • Represented buyer of hotel in Korea Town against numerous "squatter" tenants.
  • Represented residential landlords in more than 500 unlawful detainer actions, many of which went to trial on issues of habitability and retaliatory eviction.
  • Represented residential tenants in more that 25 unlawful detainer actions, many of which went to trial.
  • Represented commercial landlords in more than 50 unlawful detainer actions, many of which went to trial.
  • Represented commercial tenants in more that 15 unlawful detainer actions, many of which went to trial.
  • Represented tenant/optionee in specific performance action to compel owner to sell house to her upon exercise of tenant’s option to purchase.
  • Represented lawyer in specific performance action to purchase office building.
  • Represented plaintiffs, sellers of hotel via online sales website against defaulting buyer.
  • Represented a brother against his brother in a partition action involving property left to them by their mother.

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  • Mediated dozens of slip and fall cases.
  • Mediated dozens of auto v. auto and auto v. pedestrian cases.
  • Mediated numerous medical/dental/professional negligence cases.


  • ADA/UNRUH Act website accessibility. Blind Plaintiff and nation retailer defendant. Case settled with payment of money and changes to website.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Action against loan servicers, and 2 credit reporting agencies.
  • Represented formerly incompetent ex-wife against her ex-husband for taking all of her property while she was institutionalized.
  • Represented Orange County personal injury attorney in binding fee arbitration against former client and her new counsel who was very prominent OC PI attorney.
  • Represented homeowner of house that was slowly siding down a hill in Laguna Beach against builder and former owner for negligence and fraud.


    • Hundreds of business litigation cases, including breach of contract, unfair competition, business dissolution, trade secrets.
    • Dozens of employment cases, including FEHA, wage and hour (classification, minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest periods), harassment, discrimination, disability.
    • Numerous cases involving claims against municipalities and other governmental agencies.
    • Many IP cases involving trademarks and copyrights.
    • Dozens of Americans with Disability Act cases.
    • Dozens of slip and fall cases.
    • Dozens of auto v. auto/pedestrian cases.
    • Numerous medical/dental/professional negligence cases.
    • Numerous eviction cases.
    • Numerous foreclosure cases.
    • Discovery referee.

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    This was the first time I have worked with Mike but it will definitely not be the last. His demeanor, understanding of the case and balance between taking an evaluative and facilitative approach helped us to get the case settled despite where the parties came in at the start. It was a real pleasure getting to know him and I look forward to an opportunity to mediate with him again.”

    “Mr. Balmages is outstanding, practical and approachable. Exceptional negotiator!”

    “Mr. Balmages is excellent. He was very diligent and worked extremely hard to settle a case that all thought could not be settled. I highly recommend him. ”

    “Everyone time I have used Mr. Balmages, I have settled a case for my clients. He tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Mr. Balmages is one of the top mediators I have worked with.”

    “Mr. Balmages was very persuasive in obtaining a settlement. This was a case that I did not think could settle. He stuck with it even after our time expired and finally beat the parties down until they settled. I would definitely use him again as a mediator. Our case involved some trademark issues. Mr. Balmages’s background as counsel for Ocean Pacific was useful in understanding those issues.”

    “Michael did a terrific job in settling this case. After our own efforts at settlement failed, he was able to “get the job done”. He is knowledgeable in the law and has a a wonderful “people personality” that made the process easy. We would clearly use him again.”

    “Just concluded my first mediation with Michael Balmages, Esq., and I could not be happier or more satisfied with our decision to engage him in this matter. The settlement discussions went on until late in the night on back to back days. I have never had a mediator put in the effort that Mr. Balmages did to get the parties to a resolution. Without his efforts I am confident that the parties would be in the midst of depositions rather than finalizing a settlement agreement. Mr. Balmages came heavily recommended by many attorneys in my office and I can see why. He is now on my short list of go to mediators.”

    “Mr. Balmages does it again! With his skill, persistence, and wisdom, Mr. Balmages was instrumental in helping counsel to settle a difficult case, even if the settlement came 4 days after the mediation date. We are grateful that all parties came to a satisfactory agreement and do not have to prepare for a what would have been a long, arduous trial.”

    “Michael Balmages is an incredibly effective mediator. He always remains even keeled and is very good about reminding the parties about the cost benefits of litigation versus settling. In my view, if you can’t settle a case with his help, there’s likely no other mediator who could have settled. Definitely a great addition to ADR services.”

    “Mr. Balmages went above and beyond for our case, re-engaging when the settlement was on the brink of falling apart, which could only have happened because he spent the time to generate trust on all sides. I highly recommend him!”

    “I’ve used Mike several times. He is an excellent mediator. This was a difficult case with a lot of emotions. Mike’s tone and manner (and his pragmatism) were very effective.”

    “Mr. Balmages did an incredible job guiding what had been a long simmering and contentious case into an expedient resolution addressing the concerns of all parties involved. He was able to be both respectful and firm in his handling of the parties’ corresponding settlement postures. Moreover, Mr. Balmages knows how to expertly “cut to the chase” when necessary.”

    This is the second time that I have worked with Michael over the past few months, and on each occasion, he was exceptional. He provides great attention to the matter, uses common sense to explore how to find common ground for the parties, and is diligent in that pursuit. He is easy to work with, has a good sense of humor, and can also be firm if the situation warrants. I will definitely work with him in the future.

    Mr. Balmages was a wonderful and effective mediator. He was pleasant, persuasive, knew just how to deal with my clients and most importantly provided constructive solutions to keep the negotiations moving to a place where the parties finally were able to agree to a mutually acceptable resolution. I highly recommend Mr. Balmages and I will definitely request him again in the future.

    Mike was the most effective mediator I have ever had the privilege of working with in my 30+ years of handling complex business litigation matters.

    We were extremely well served by mediator Balmages. He is one of the best mediators I have ever worked with. Not only is he skilled and diplomatic, but he also works hard and goes beyond the call of duty. Had he been involved in the first mediation, this case probably would have settled three years ago saving thousands in legal fees. He will be my first choice and recommendation for a mediator going forward.

    Very contentious case between four sides that had been extensively litigated for over 4 years. We brought Michael in one month before a lengthy jury trial in a last-ditch effort to mediate- although I was reluctant and skeptical. I was impressed by his attention to detail and ability to calm everyone’s nerves and talk everyone out of their corners. After 9+ hours of negotiations and last ditch mediator’s proposal, I was surprised to see everyone agree to the final proposal. A great job and will definitely use Michael again!! Thanks again.

    “Michael Balmages did an extremely outstanding job as our mediator. Not only did he agree to mediate the case on extremely short notice, he did an unbelievably great job in reviewing the multiple and lengthy briefs of the parties, and absorbing all the key facts and legal issues presented by the case. He then dealt patiently and magnificently with counsel and their clients, all of whom had very strong beliefs and emotions about the case, in order to bring the parties to a settlement. This case was close to impossible to settle but somehow, he got the parties to reach an agreement. Based on his performance in this case, he joins my list of my top 10 mediators. I will use him again, and I will spread the word to my colleagues regarding his skill and effectiveness. All in all, a great guy and a great mediator.”

    “Mr. Balmages is our hero. With only a few days notice, Mr. Balmages was able to prioritize our matter, review lengthy briefs discussing a years-long fact pattern and numerous legal issues, and confer with all counsel to develop a detailed understanding of our clients’ dispute. Conscious of the reality that this dispute was going to be very difficult to settle (the parties had already prepared for arbitration, remained very far apart, and had “strong” personalities), I was pessimistic about the potential for settlement. However, Mr. Balmages was able to work with both parties very well and facilitated a settlement with which both parties were pleased (and grateful). Thank you, Mr. Balmages! We will definitely be requesting your services in the future and highly recommend him to anyone.”

    Mike Balmages is the best. I’m a repeat customer because he doesn’t spend time winding people up about their case facts – he just gets down to the business of settlement!”

    Mike has exceptional mediation skills. He was persistent and realistic about the possible outcomes. I appreciated his straightforward approach and his astronomy jokes. He has a million of them (like the stars). Thanks, Mike, for another excellent job resolving a difficult case!!!”

    “Mike was very personable and friendly. He was able to convey the hard truths with grace and understanding and made my clients feel heard.”

    Mr. Balmages was a fantastic mediator and helped us obtain a result better than we had expected. His case manager was fantastic as well.”