Stephen McAvoy, Esq. brings over 35 years of litigation and advocacy experience towards resolving disputes encumbered by high emotion and conflict. Half of his legal career was spent representing plaintiffs and consumers while the other half of his career was in defense representation. The combined experience from these different roles makes him a fair and impartial neutral that is also attentive to the motivations and processes of both sides.

Persistent and personable, attorneys can count on Stephen McAvoy, Esq. to continue working on the settlement even after the mediation has concluded; a great many of Mr. McAvoy’s cases come to him at the early stages of the litigation and some are even pre-litigation. The guidance provided by Mr. McAvoy helps parties settle earlier with lower expenses and turmoil.

Masterful in his ability to empower the parties to evolve beyond their positions of disagreement, Mr. McAvoy has been praised for his unique ability to connect with strong personalities as well as manage and overcome the intrinsic factors that create barriers to a successful settlement.

Areas of Expertise

  • Business & Commercial Contract
    • Business disputes including Dissolution, Breach of contract, Unfair competition, Securities Litigation and NASD (now FINRA) Arbitration
  • Construction Contract, Defect and Liens
    • Commercial and Residential Construction defect claims from single units to whole developments, Mechanic’s Lien, Breach of Contract, Delay Claims and Public Works
  • Employment Law
    • Wage and Hour matters, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, Wrongful Termination, Public Policy Violations and ADA issues
  • Personal Injury  
    • Soft tissue to catastrophic injury and Wrongful Death matters  involving industrial accidents, Products Liability, Motor Vehicle claims, Premises Liability, Public Entity claims, Dog Bite, mold related claims and Sexual Abuse. High emotional content issues.
  • Professional Malpractice
    • Legal, Realty, Architecture, Elder Abuse and Neglect, Veterinary, Business and other professional liability matters
  • Real Estate
    • Residential Non-Disclosure cases and those involving commercial leases and commissions, Boundaries, Easements and CC&R related claims.
  • Probate, Trust and Estates and Family Law
    • Will and Trust disputes as well as divorce mediation and dissolution of domestic partnerships

Legal Experience

  • ADR Neutral
    • 15 years as Mediator, Arbitrator, and Referee – resolving disputes involving Construction Defect, Construction Contract, Liens, Personal Injury, Business, Commercial Contract, Employment, and Legal Malpractice. Also served as an arbitrator for NASD as well as mediator and discovery referee for construction cases before the San Diego Superior Court.
  • Trial Attorney
    • Over 35 years of experience as Trial Attorney – representing  individual consumers, businesses, and insurance defense. Specialized in: Construction Defect and Construction Contract, Catastrophic Personal Injury, Employment, and Business Litigation.


  • University of Virginia, BA, with Distinction (1981)
  • University of San Diego, JD (1985)

Dispute Resolution Training

  • Pepperdine School of Law – Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Mediating the Litigated Case
  • National Conflict Resolution Center, Mediator Credential
  • Restorative Justice Mediation Program, Mediation TrainingUniversity of Virginia, BA, with Distinction (1981) University of San Diego, JD (1985)

Bar Admissions & Membership

  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • State Bar of California
  • State Bar of New Jersey (Inactive)

Representative Cases


  • Settled dispute between law firms over attorney’s fees.
  • Mediated dispute between multiple utility companies regarding power lines damaged during repair.
  • Settled dispute regarding a longtime rental contract of heavy construction equipment.
  • Resolved dispute between real property owner and the holder of a lease hold interest in the same property over the right to collect fees in connection in the placement of a cell phone tower.

Construction Defect

  • Resolved a construction defect dispute between a general contractor and homeowner regarding a custom house.
  • Resolved multimillion dollar lawsuit between general contractor and sub-contractor regarding the dispute of cladding on a commercial building.
  • Arbitrated a large number of construction disputes between home owners and contractors.

Employment, Wage & Hour

  • Wage and hour matter involving long distance truck drivers.
  • Settled disputes regarding warehouse and assembly line workers, discrimination claims, meal and rest breaks.
  • Mediated disputes involving wage and hour, overtime, meal and rest breaks involving nursing staff.
  • Wage and hour dispute involving golf instructor and high-profile country club.
  • Resolved class action wage and hour matter involving servers at a chain restaurant.
  • Dispute against large government contractor regarding racial discrimination.
  • Mediated wrongful discharge regarding age discrimination.
  • Pre-litigation by an employee of a major corporation involving PAGA in retaliation.
  • Dispute between a physician shareholder against an HMO Group over annual bonus and shared dividends. Plaintiff’s complaint also involved a PAGA claim.
  • Mediated a wage and hour and sexual discrimination case involving employee of a car dealership.
  • Sexual harassment case involving waitress and management.
  • Wrongful discharge action based on pregnancy.

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Personal Injury

  • Resolved personal injury auto collision dispute regarding serious injuries between a commercial truck and car.
  • Mediated altercation between bar patron and security guard resulting in severe injuries.
  • Mediated damp building environment (MVOCs) between property owner and tenant and defective railing.
  • Plaintiff severely injured by alleged defective massage chair.
  • Plaintiff allegedly injured during physical therapy.
  • Settled slip and fall case with severe injuries regarding large fast food industries.

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“Mr. McAvoy was superb! First time I worked with him. During the mediation (& BEFORE a settlement was reached), I actually sent an email to a number of my partners and associates to add him to my list of preferred mediators. I mediate many times each month and found him to be top tier. I will be working with this mediator again, for sure. He worked until past 9:00 p.m. to get the case settled. Unlike so many others, who just end mediation because “time is up” or they need to get home to supper, or for some other (bogus) reason that best suits their schedule, he sacrificed….. like the attorneys and clients involved….. to stick around and get the job done. I am at that point in my career where I REALLY appreciate and respect that, more than ever.”

“Steve McAvoy is an excellent neutral, he has a great demeanor with the parties and counsel, he clearly reads everything submitted to him, he has a great grasp of the facts and understanding of the applicable law, and I will not hesitate to use him again and to highly recommend him to my law firm colleagues and other attorneys.”

“Steve McAvoy is an excellent mediator, he extensively knowledgeable in wage and hour laws and was integral in handling the issues tied to our case. He was able to forge a settlement in a difficult PAGA action, and a class action involving a wrongful termination claim. ”

“He was very competent and helped us resolve the case. I enjoyed working with him. Great experience. Great rates!”

“Mr. McAvoy and the ADR staff did a great job. He was an effective communicator and we would use him again in the future.”

Mr. McAvoy is very skilled and deserves all the credit for resolving the case. He is a true professional.

Stephen McAvoy did an excellent job. Although the matter was not settled during the mediation session itself, he stayed in touch with both attorneys and the matter was eventually settled as a result.

‘Steve is highly respected by both the plaintiff and defense bar. In the past, he’s certainly made mediator’s proposals that were not favorable for the defense – my clients. And yet because of the wat he’s gone about the process – reading the briefs, understanding the facts and the law, asking the pertinent questions – my clients have said, ‘I don’t like it, but I understand it, and we’re going to pay it.’ And I’m sure the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ clients have felt the same way.”

“Steve is well liked by claimants. Steve relates really well to people who are suffering. He has a demeanor that puts them at ease. He’s very kind and empathetic and understanding and makes our clients feel like they’re being heard and understood, and that’s always very helpful.”

“Steve has resolved all the cases I’ve used him on. I’m a big fan of the joint session approach he occasionally employs if both sides agree. Pretty much at the beginning, Steve will bring the lawyers into a room with the adjusters, and he’ll let you present witness testimony from your client, and he’ll let you put on some type of opening statement. He really lets you lawyer when you’re in mediation. Whereas a lot of mediators just want the facts, and they just want to have separate caucuses and go back and forth and back and forth. His joint session approach has made a big difference in the personal injury matters that I’ve used him for. Oftentimes, we have adjusters who may have never met our client other than reading deposition transcripts. So that opportunity to present your client and do a little mini direct right there in the mediation and show the opposing side why the case is worth what we’re asking for is really helpful.”


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