Hon. Joe Hilberman (Ret.)



  • 2009 – 2013: Daily Journal, “Top 50 Neutrals”
  • 2008: Jurist of the Year, American Board of Trial Advocates, Los Angeles Chapter

Judicial Experience

2001 – 2009: Judge of the Superior Court, Los Angeles

  • Unlimited civil independent calendar trial court
  • Family Law trial court – Long cause trials, domestic violence, spousal and child support, child custody
  • Limited jurisdiction civil trial court
  • Misdemeanor trial court


  • 2008: Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine, Specialized Mediation
  • 1996: Mediation Training, UCLA Extension Dept. of Business and Management
  • 1973: JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • 1970: BA, University of California, Los Angeles

Legal Employment

  • 1996 – 2001: Fonda Hilberman & Fraser, Founding Partner.
    Civil litigation and mediation, including professional and personal liability, insurance coverage, and risk management issues on behalf of insurance carriers, self-insured businesses, universities and healthcare providers, mediator.
  • 1984 – 1996: Fonda Garrard Hilberman & Davis, Senior Partner.
    Tort, professional liability and insurance coverage litigation and risk management.
  • 1981 – 1984: Levinson & Lieberman, Partner.
    General civil practice, specialization in general litigation, real estate title litigation.
  • 1973 – 1981: Shield & Smith, Partner.
    General civil practice; specialization in litigation. Special expertise in products liability, negligence law and professional liability.

Current Memberships

  • Los Angeles County Bar Association,
    • Litigation Section Executive Committee, 2006-2009
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, 1990-present.
    • Member, Board of Trustees, Los Angeles Chapter, 2003-present.
    • Secretary, 2005-2008.
    • Standing Committee on Professional Civility, 2005-2015. (Chair, 2005-2006)
    • National Board Representative, Los Angeles Chapter, 2020-present
  • UCLA School of Law Alumni Association, 1973-present.
    • Board of Directors, 2005-2017; President 2009-2010.
  • UCLA School of Law Mentor Program, 2000-present.
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Judicial Fellow, February 2006.
  • Santa Monica Bar Association, Board of Trustees, 2006-2008.

Teaching Experience

  • Guest lecturer, Pepperdine Law School, Mediation, February 2016.
  • UCLA School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Law, 2009.
  • Guest lecturer, Pepperdine Law School, Trial Advocacy, February 2007.
  • Faculty, Los Angeles Superior Court Judicial Education Seminar, “Civil Case Management,” February 2007.
  • Guest lecturer, UCLA “Issues of Domestic Violence in a Family Law Court,” “Sex and the Law,” November 2006.
  • Loyola Law School, Adjunct Prof. of Law, “Family Law,” Spring & Fall 2005, Fall 2006.
  • Administrative Office of the Courts, Faculty, Cow County Judges Institute, “Discovery, Law and Motion, and Sanctions,” May 2006.
  • Los Angeles Superior Court, Settlement Skills Education Committee, Instructor, 2005.
  • UCLA Extension, Paralegal Certificate.
  • USC School of Medicine, Litigation.

Publications (Partial List)

  • “Mediation Tips Based on Attorneys’ Pet Peeves,” Verdict Magazine (ASCDC), Summer 2012.
  • “Showing Respect for Mediation, Arbitration and Discovery,” Advocate Magazine, (CAALA) September 2011.
  • “Mediation Is Not a Contact Sport,” Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine, January 2011.
  • “Winning Your Case Without Going to Court, Successful Mediation Techniques,” Verdict Magazine (ASCDC), December 2010.
  • “Not-So-New Kid in Town,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 17, 2010.
  • “Concern for the environment: Successful mediation techniques for court or private mediation,” Advocate Magazine (CAALA), September 2010.
  • “Video Depositions At Trial,” Advocate Magazine (CAALA), January 2008.
  • “Tech Savvy,” Verdict Magazine (ASCDC), Fourth Quarter 2007.

Speaking Engagements (Partial List)


  • Advanced Mediation Training Speaker, U.S. District Court, 2020
  • Panelist, “Judicial Perspective on Brain Injuries,” TBI Institute, 2019.
  • Panelist, “Effective Mediation Techniques,” California Lawyers Association, 2018.
  • Presiding Judge, “Masters in Trial,” ABOTA, 2016.
  • Panelist, “Ethics in Mediation,” CAALA Las Vegas Seminar, 2011.
  • Panelist, “Social Media,” UCLA School of Law and Association of Corporate Counsel, 2011.
  • Panelist, “Winning Your Case Without Ever Going to Court: Successful Mediation Techniques for Private Mediation,” The State Bar of California 83rd Annual Meeting, Monterey, September 23-26, 2010.
  • Panelist, “Concern for the environment: Successful mediation techniques for court or private mediation,” CAALA Las Vegas Seminar, August 2010.
  • Panelist, “Civility in Litigation,” CAALA Las Vegas Seminar, August 2009.
  • Panelist, “Civility from the Trench to the Bench: Does it Really Matter?” UCLA School of Law, March 2009.
  • “Local Rules and Civility,” Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, March 2009.
  • Panelist, “Automobile Litigation,” CAALA Las Vegas Seminar, August 2005, 2006, 2008.
  • Panelist, “Candid Comments,” LACBA Litigation Section, June 2008.
  • Panelist, “Annual Trial Lawyer Skills for the New Attorney,” CAALA, March 2008.
  • Moderator, Civil Bench Seminar, “Developments in Contracts,” February 2007.
  • MCLE Presenter at more than 40 private law firms.

Representative Cases


  • Mediated a high profile case involving the beating death of a homeless man by the Fullerton Police Department.
  • Mediated a high profile case involving the beating of a mentally disturbed woman on a Los Angeles freeway by a law enforcement officer.
  • Served as discovery referee, making recommendations to the Court on more than a dozen motions, in a wrongful death case of a schizophrenic man by police officers.
  • Mediated cases involving the suicide of inmates in a county jail.
  • Mediated several cases involving alleged denial of medical care in a county jail.
  • Mediated several cases involving alleged denial of medical care in state prison.
  • Mediated several cases involving sexual assault by a police officer against female motorists.
  • Mediated several cases involving invasion of privacy alleged against a law enforcement agency.
  • Mediated several cases involving allegations of excessive use of force.

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  • Settled matter involving a bad intubation during surgery that led to a “code blue.”
  • Settled a case regarding a failure to diagnose a brain bleed.
  • Served as arbitrator and mediator in more than 100 cases of injury and wrongful death, including those alleging failure to diagnose conditions such as heart attack, cancer, stroke, obstructed bowel, fracture, retained foreign body.
  • Mediated and arbitrated cases involving hospital liability, nurse liability, staff privilege, orthopedics, neurology and neurosurgery, general surgery, anesthesia, psychiatry and psychology, neuropsychiatry, urology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, informed consent, “bad outcome,” pediatrics and pediatric surgery, Ob/Gyn, neonatology and informed consent.
  • Arbitrated cases involving unique application of MICRA to injury cases, such as premise liability, and acute and step-down care facilities.


    • Mediated a case involving alleged malpractice in several litigation matters, and a cross-complaint or attorney fees.


    • Served as discovery referee in a highly contested case involving a complex organization of elder care facilities, making recommendations to the Court on myriad motions.
    • Mediated several cases involving alleged negligence in the providing of care in nursing homes.
    • Mediated cases involving failure of nursing homes to monitor and obtain care for acute changes in medical condition of residents.
    • Consulted regarding the application of the elder abuse statute to consumers who are defrauded by contractors.
    • Mediated cases involving “senior living centers” with claims of injury and death.


      • Plaintiff was struck by an out of control vehicle whose driver fled the scene. There was moderate property damage and a microdiscectomy. No wage was lost. $200,000 in medical reduced to $23,000.
      • Plaintiff cheerleader dropped during show. Traumatic brain injury.
      • Mediated a case in which the decedent was a “pledge” on a fraternity hike who died of dehydration.
      • Judge Hilberman has mediated and arbitrated hundreds of cases involving: Auto v auto accidents,
      • Motorcycle accidents
      • Highway and street design defect
      • Bus accidents
      • Bicycle accidents, both involving another vehicle and single-bike accidents
      • Boating accidents
      • Uninsured motorist accidents involving multiple vehicle accidents, hit-and-run and “phantom vehicle”
      • Underinsured automobile accidents
      • Successfully mediated a claim by a former student for sexual battery against a high school teacher

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      • Served as discovery referee on a multiple-claimant design defect case involving a personal watercraft
      • Manufacture of ladders
      • Automobile design and manufacture including “Lemon Law”


      • Judge Hilberman has mediated and arbitrated cases involving:
        Health insurance benefits
      • Medical Insurance
      • Worker’s compensation benefits and over-lap with personal injury
      • Homeowners’ insurance, application and benefits
      • Excess insurance issues
      • Disability insurance
      • Uninsured and Under-insured benefits
      • Comprehensive General Liability coverage
      • Completed operations coverage
      • Fraudulent application and claims
      • Successfully mediated a dispute between an insurance company and its policy holder regarding the application of the COLA terms to a disability policy

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      • Referee on the maintenance of a “view corridor” between homes in Malibu
      • Homeowner Association disputes, including common area and CC and R’s
      • Condominium Association disputes
      • Real Estate Broker liability
      • Broker fee disputes
      • Successfully mediated a complex case involving an extensive home remodel, including allegations of negligent performance, breach of contract, and personal injury from mold exposure.
      • Successfully mediated a case involving quiet title, partition, property loss, theft, fraud and psychiatric malpractice (all in the same case!).

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      • Arbitrated and mediated cases involving:
        Wrongful termination
      • Discrimination
      • Whistle blower
      • Failure to accommodate
      • Wage and hour disputes
      • Constructive termination

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      • Mediated a disputed liability automobile accident in which an automobile ran a red light.
      • Settled matter in which hot water was spilled on a restaurant patron.
      • Mediated a case regarding a chiropractic manipulation alleged to have caused a stroke.
      • Mediated a matter in which a pedestrian was struck by a Sheriff’s car while in a cross-walk, involving claims of minor traumatic brain injury and soft tissue injuries.
      • Mediated a case involving alleged defective design in a roadway.
      • Premise liability
      • Auto v auto
      • Medical negligence
      • Product liability
      • Mediated numerous cruise ship injury cases
      • Mediated numerous cases involving alleged liability of a school district for negligence resulting in personal injury (athletics and physical plant issues) as well as battery allegations and sexual assault.

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      • Medical negligence of physicians and hospitals
      • Accountancy
      • Attorney negligence
      • Dental negligence
      • Nursing negligence
      • Real estate broker negligence

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      • Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a contract to provide subcontracting. Defendant terminated the contract. Plaintiff alleged that termination of the contract required cause and that Plaintiff was underpaid. Defendant denied these allegations.
      • Mediated a dispute regarding allegations that the Defendant failed to properly represent client in a real estate transaction.
      • Mediated a wage and hour dispute involving allegations of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
      • Breach of contract
      • Breach of fiduciary duty
      • Fraud
      • Failure to disclose
      • Unjust enrichment
      • Interference with prospective opportunity
      • Partnership dissolution and disputes

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      “The Judge was fantastic! A pleasure to work with and someone who had read everything and was fully prepared. Not only would I come back to Judge Hilberman, but it would be my pleasure to recommend him to other lawyers.”

      “Judge Hilberman is always a pleasure to work with and effective, remarkably adept at balancing the various goals of mediation while maintaining good relationships across the board.”

      “Judge Hilberman was great! Will definitely use his services again. Thank you!”

      “Judge Hilberman is an exceptional mediator. This was a very difficult case to resolve and he found a way to do it”

      “Joe Hilberman is excellent. I recommend him to others frequently.”

      “Judge Hilberman was excellent, as always.”

      “Judge Hilberman was fantastic. Will certainly use him again.”

      “Judge Hilberman was very effective and good to work with, as always.”

      “Judge Hilberman is the best! Hope you and yours are safe and healthy. Looking forward to more matters in the near future.”

      Judge Hilberman has a gentlemanly, cerebral approach to the parties, and he treats everybody with respect. He’s interested in who they are outside of the mediation process, and I think that develops relationships and trust, which in turn allow him in essence to be effective when he makes a suggestion. He is tremendously persistent. He works for it. He just simply doesn’t accept you saying, ‘No, this is all we’re going to do.’ He gently will say ‘Well, you’re going to have to do more because I think your interest is in getting this resolved.’ And before you know it, you might be coughing up a bit more money than you had come to the mediation with in an effort to get it done. So he knows how to push the right buttons, which is key.”

      Judge Hilberman’s background as a litigator and retired judge makes him especially effective. He has the ability to look at the big picture and focus in on what’s really important. And he can offer the perspective both from a trial lawyer’s point of view and, of course, from the point of view of somebody who presided over a lot of trials himself in the superior court. And that combination really gives him the ability to communicate well and persuasively with other trial lawyers. He just has a very good people personality.”

      Judge Hilberman’s background as a defense attorney is a major positive. The defense trusts him because they know he was a defense attorney, and they know he knows insurance companies and the way insurance companies think. But at the same time, over the years he’s developed tremendous respect from all of the plaintiffs’ bar. His extensive background as a medical malpractice attorney is a distinguished strong suit. He’s very knowledgeable about medical issues. Judge Hilberman knows the medicine of these cases oftentimes much better than lawyers on either side. His ability to connect with the parties helps resolve cases. He’s one of those people that you just feel comfortable talking to. He’s just such a nice and calm and friendly and funny person that he puts everybody at ease. I can say a lot of nice things about him, but the most important thing I can say is he gets the job done. There are some mediators that are really nice, friendly and they tell nice stories, and we eat Danish and sip coffee, and I can leave thinking, ‘Wow, that was nice.’ But the cases don’t get done, so that doesn’t really help us much. But Judge Hilberman just has a tremendous track record of getting cases resolved.”