Hon. Francisco F. Firmat (Ret.)


The Honorable Francisco F. Firmat brings a wealth of experience in helping parties settle their differences at mediation. His 27-year courtroom experience includes long-term assignments in civil, family law and complex litigation panels, with hundreds of jury trials and thousands of bench trials. He has completed over 6,000 settlement conferences or mediations. He is fluent in Spanish and before his judicial career was an attorney and a court-certified Spanish interpreter.

Driven by faith and service, Judge Firmat is a natural peacemaker with exceptional mediation skills. In addition to his lengthy judicial experience, Judge Firmat has received training in mediation through Pepperdine’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution in 1996, 2005 and 2008, and has attended further programs since his retirement from the bench in 2013.

Hon. Francisco Firmat has been honored by numerous legal and community organizations. In recognition of his extensive efforts to improve the family law court experience for the Orange County community, Judge Firmat was awarded the 2008 Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award co-sponsored by the State Bar of California, Judicial Council of California and the California Judges Association.

Areas of Expertise

  • Business & Commercial Contract
  • Complex Litigation
  • Employment
  • Family Law
  • Real Estate
  • Homeowners Association
  • Personal Injury
  • Professional Malpractice

Judicial Experience (1985-2013)

  • Civil – 15 years
  • Family Law (Supervising Judge for 5.5 years) – 7.5 years
  • Complex Litigation – 2.5 years

Litigation Experience

  • Sole Practitioner (Fullerton, California) (1976-1985)


  • Western State College of Law, Juris Doctorate (1976)
  • University of Southern California, Graduate Studies (1973)
  • California State University Los Angeles, Bachelor’s Degree (1972)

Professional Recognition

  • ADL Marcus Kaufman Jurisprudence Award (2016)
  • Western State College of Law Lifetime Achievement Award (2015)
  • Orange County Bar Association, Franklin G. West Award (2013)
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Distinguished Jurist Award (2009)
  • Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, Jurist of the Year (2009)
  • State Bar of California, Judicial Council of California, and California Judges Association, Benjamin Aranda Access to Justice Award (The “Aranda” is the most prestigious Award given jointly by the Judicial Council, the State Bar, and the California Judges Association.) (2008)
  • Orange County Women Lawyers’ Association, Judge of the Year (2007)
  • American Board of Trial Advocates – Orange County Chapter, Civility Award (2002)
  • Consumer Attorneys of California, Judge of the Year (2001)
  • Orange County Bar Association – Business Litigation Section, Judge of the Year (1996)
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, Judge of the Year (1996)
  • Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, Judge of the Year (1994)
  • Orange County Bar Association & Orange County Bar Foundation, Harmon G. Scoville Award (1992)

Community Service Recognition

  • Kids First, Recognition (2013)
  • Loyola Institute for Spirituality, Hearts on Fire Award (2004)
  • Thomas More Society – OC Chapter, Thomas More Award (2001)

Speaking & Instruction

  • During his judicial career, Judge Firmat was a lecturer at different times for The Rutter Group, Orange County Bar Association, Consumer Attorneys of California, Center for Judicial Education and Research, American Board of Trial Advocates, Continuing Education of the Bar, Orange County Hispanic Bar Association and others.
  • Western State College of Law (Assistant Professor of Trial Practice, 1994-2012)


  • Active with Daniel’s Inn of Orange County
  • Teaches workshops on prayer and contemplation
  • Fluent in Spanish

Video Introduction to Judge Firmat

On January 17, 2013, Hon. Francisco Firmat received the Orange County Bar Association’s Franklin G. West Award; the OCBA’s highest honor. For a glimpse into the character, values and judicial philosophy of this jurist, please click here to see the video of the introduction and acceptance remarks from the award ceremony.

Representative Cases

Insurance dispute

  • Four parties were insurer, insured, insurance broker and wholesale insurance broker. Litigation over insurance policy clause and whether it was ambiguous, unconscionable, explained or concealed.

Real Estate

  • Plaintiff sued husband for breach of contract over a real estate partnership. Husband and wife divorce, each responsible for half the assets and debts. Plaintiff gets judgment against husband but husband goes to bankruptcy court. Wife dies and her probate estate is pursued for payment of husband’s judgment to collect half of the debt. Case has complex civil, family law, bankruptcy and probate issues.


“Judge Firmat is not only a fantastic mediator, he is a true gentleman and a pleasure to work with. ADR is lucky to have him.”

“We enjoyed working with Judge Firmat and the office staff was great.”