Available for Mediations, Arbitrations, Discovery and Judicial References
The Honorable Winifred Y. Smith (Ret.) comes to ADR Services, Inc. with 21 years of experience as a Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court and 26 years as Deputy Attorney General in the California Attorney General’s Office. During her tenure on the bench, Judge Smith presided over civil law and motion, civil direct, and complex litigation matters. She was also an integral member of court leadership, having served as a member of the Judicial Council, Supervising Judge of multiple courthouses, Supervising Judge of the court’s Civil Division, and later as Presiding Judge.
Judge Smith has extensive experience in a variety of civil cases, including coordinated cases, class actions, employment, construction defect, and Proposition 65 matters, and has presided over many cases presenting questions of first impression. In her 13 years serving in civil assignments, Judge Smith presided over nearly 100 cases to verdict, including a Product Liability/Complex Litigation case which resulted in the largest civil award in California’s history. She has been affirmed in 95% of her cases on appeal. In addition, Judge Smith served as a Justice Pro Tem for the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Four.
Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Smith worked as a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice’s Office of the Attorney General. During her tenure there, her assignments included working in the OAG’s Health, Education, and Welfare Section representing state agencies.
Judge Smith is widely respected for her judicial demeanor and ability to deftly manage complex matters to resolution. She has been honored by many legal organizations for her commitment to judicial excellence, including being twice named Jurist of Distinction by the Women Lawyers of Alameda County and as Trial Judge of the Year by the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) in 2021. She has been invited to speak on numerous panels to offer her legal expertise and is currently a lecturer at Berkeley Law teaching Civil Trial Practice.
Alameda County Superior Court
California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District
Women Lawyers of Alameda County, Jurist of Distinction – 2021
American Board of Trial Advocates, Trial Judge of the Year – 2021
Women Lawyers of Alameda County, Jurist of Distinction – 2014
California Association of Black Lawyers, Judicial Excellence Award – 2013
Alameda County Bar Association, Distinguished Service Award – 2010
Charles Houston Bar Association, Judge of the Year – 2006
J.D., Boston University School of Law – 1974
B.A., Stanford University – 1971
UC Berkeley, School of Law – 2022
CJER Civil Experienced Primary Assignment Orientation – 2021
CJER Complex Case Management and Trial – 2021
Association of Business Trial Lawyers – 2015-Present
Alameda County Bar Association, Volunteer Legal Services – 2008-2014
David P. McCullum Youth Court – 2003-2009
“Hon. Winifred Smith was a spectacular mediator. She used her extensive experience as a judge to offer important insight that our client trusted. She was knowledgable, empathetic, and practical in her approach. I would definitely use her again.”
“What sets Judge Smith apart from other mediators is that she has the judicial experience, but unlike a lot of judges, she doesn’t come in and just say, ‘Well, I think this is how it’s going to go. You’re wrong,’ She comes in and does a great job of educating people about how a court might rule as opposed to telling them that this is what’s going to happen. In persuasion, if I come to a conclusion on my own, that’s a lot more persuasive than if you come to me and tell me what my conclusion should be. She was terrific with the parties. A lot of times, you’ve got litigants that aren’t necessarily as sophisticated as others, and she doesn’t talk down to anybody. She’s just very good at speaking in a way that gets those to the same place who may not normally want to be in the same place.”
“Judge Smith was excellent with clients. She plays well with others, and I really think that helps her have credibility with both sides. She’s very impartial, but she’ll tell you what she thinks. And when she does, she delivers that message in a non-offensive way and in a manner which people are more likely to say, ‘Maybe you’re right.”
“Judge Smith is incredibly well prepared. I’ve probably done 50 mediations over the years – maybe more – and mediators frequently, unfortunately, come in and you can tell they haven’t read your mediation briefs and they just sort of hit the ground running at the mediation and try to just figure it out as they go along, and that delays things and that sometimes results in not having enough time to get things settled. Judge Smith is the opposite. She clearly knew the case inside and out. She suggested a variety of creative solutions. It wasn’t just, ‘You pay money, and you get money.’ There were just many different ways in which she structured things to try and get things done, and oftentimes, you really need to get creative like that to reach a resolution, and she was clearly very, very invested in trying to get the cases settled.”