Hon. Nancy E. Zeltzer (Ret.) is an esteemed judge, trial lawyer, and litigator with a wealth of practical experience in all aspects of civil litigation. Over her highly successful 45-year legal career, Judge Zeltzer has demonstrated impressive levels of skill and intuitive insight into litigation, earning the respect of colleagues as an approachable yet practical authority in the legal field. Judge Zeltzer’s distinguished tenure as a trial judge for the Orange County Superior Court began when she was appointed to the bench in 2014. As a judge, she presided over a wide variety of civil cases, as well as ruling on law and motion matters and handling settlement conferences. Prior to her taking the bench, she regularly served as a volunteer Temporary Judge presiding over settlement conferences in the Court’s Unlimited Civil division.
Judge Zeltzer’s extensive litigation experience includes serving as a Partner in the Labor and Employment Practices Group at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith. She first joined the firm in 1987. As a litigator and trial lawyer, Judge Zeltzer has represented both public and private entities and their employees, as well as elected and appointed officials, in actions involving claims for employment harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, civil rights violations, peace officer misconduct, false arrest and a variety of other claims brought against public entities, their elected officials and employees. Judge Zeltzer also has vast experience in handling cases involving professional malpractice, both medical and legal, premises liability, products liability, motor vehicle liability, bad faith and other insurance coverage claims, and construction defects.
Judge Zeltzer is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), reflecting her deep insight into civil litigation and trial law. She held numerous leadership roles, including serving as the Orange County Chapter President in 2020, and serving as national delegate and board representative to the national organization. She received the Orange County Chapter’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award as a litigator and received its Judge of the Year Award in 2020 as a trial judge.
Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith 1987-2014
• Administrative Partner and Managing Partner of the Orange County office.
• Partner in the Labor & Employment Practices Group.
• Joined the firm in 1987.
Partner, Ruston, Nance, McCormick & DiCaro 1978-1981; 1983-1987
• Partner specializing in litigation.
• Joined the firm as an Associate in 1978.
Deputy Attorney, California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) 1981-1983
• Judge of the Year, Constitutional Rights Foundation
• Judge of the Year, Orange County Chapter of ABOTA
• Judicial Civility Award, Banyard Inn of Court of the American Inns of Court
• Trial Lawyer of the Year, Orange County Chapter of ABOTA
• Western State University Hall of Fame
• Dean’s Counselor, Western State University College of Law
• Southern California “Super Lawyer” in Governmental Practice
• Southern California “Super Lawyer” in Employment Litigation
• Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent Peer Rating 5.0 out of 5
• Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™ Martindale-Hubbell
• Juris Doctor, Western State University College of Law 1977
• Bachelor of Science, Western State University 1975
American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
• 2020 President of the Orange County Chapter of ABOTA.
• Served as a National Delegate, Member at Large, Secretary, Treasurer/Vice President.
• Board Representative to the ABOTA National Organization.
• Served as an attorney and later as a judge for the “Masters in Trial” program.
Orange County Bar Association (OCBA)
• 2023 Secretary of the Board of Directors, OCBA Masters Division
Robert A. Banyard Inn of the American Inns of Court
• 2020-2021 President
Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF)
• Judicial Advisory Board
• Peer Review Advisory Board
• Regularly serves as Presiding Judge for the CRF Mock Trial Program and participates in Peer Court and Constitution Day.
Orange County Association of Affinity Judicial Officers
• Founding Member and Secretary
Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL)
California Judges Association (CJA)
Judge Zeltzer has served as a lecturer for the Rutter Group, Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Orange County Bar Association (OCBA), Banyard Inn of Court, Defense Research Institute (DRI), Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, and others, on a variety of topics involving civil litigation, including discovery, law and motion practice, litigation resolution and trial practice. She has lectured extensively on the topic of Civility and Professionalism in the practice of law. Judge Zeltzer has also authored materials for numerous seminars including Lewis Brisbois Employment seminars on topics including settlement considerations, trial preparation, and updates in employment law.
Judge Zeltzer has participated as an attorney, and later as a judge, in the Orange County Chapter of ABOTA’s “Masters in Trial Program.” She is an Adjunct Professor on Civil Trial Practice for Western State University College of Law.
Constitutional Rights Foundation
• Judge Zeltzer regularly serves as a presiding Judge for the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) Mock Trial program. In 2023, she presided over the championship round. She also participates in the Peer Review Court program as well as Constitution Day.
Saturday Academy of Law
• Judge Zeltzer is a regular participant in this program that provides ninth grade students with a unique opportunity to improve their reading, writing and critical thinking skills, while learning more about the legal profession and higher education opportunities.
UCI Moot Court Competition
• Judge Zeltzer regular presides over multiple rounds of the UCI Moot Court competition for the University of California, Irvine, School of Law.
Orange County Working Wardrobes
• Judge Zeltzer uses her spare time and jewelry making hobby to craft jewelry for donation to Orange County’s Working Wardrobes.