550 West "C" Street # 700

San Diego, CA 92101

Hon. Michael B. Orfield (Ret.)


There is such an incredible dynamic to mediations. No two are ever the same. What I need to do is prepare very carefully, listen very closely, engage the participants completely, and choose the right tools for each mediation. My strength comes from gaining a feeling of confidence and a sense of trust from the participants, then assisting them to come to their own resolution. A successful mediation is when all the participants feel invested in the result.


Hon. Michael B. Orfield (Ret.) was a jurist for 20 years, mostly as a civil independent calendar judge. His experience and expertise as a civil judge spread widely across such diverse areas as catastrophic personal injury, medical and legal malpractice, product and construction defects, breach of warranties, easements, breach of contract, wrongful death and a variety of business disputes. His strength as a mediator “…comes from being able to call upon a broad plain of knowledge, coupled with an attention to detail, empathy for the participants, and a conviction that the resolution should be their own.”

Judge Orfield retired as a member of the statewide Continuing Judicial Education Committee, and still has a passion for teaching. He currently teaches “Trying the Complicated Case: From Trial Readiness to Verdict” as well as the LexisNexis Jury Instruction computer program for both civil and criminal jury instructions. He has also taught “Leading Organizational Change” as well as the week long “Civil Overview for Judges”.

Judge Orfield was appointed by Chief Justice Ronald George to the original Task Force on Civil Jury Instructions and then to the Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions. Justice George also appointed him a member of the prestigious Judicial Council of the State of California. Judge Orfield has served as a member of the Judicial Council Presiding Judges and Court Executives Advisory Committee and the Judicial Needs Advisory Committee.

Judge Orfield has served on the Board of the San Diego Humane Society and chaired the North County “Bridging the Gap” program for new lawyers. Before transferring to the Vista Courthouse, he co-moderated the San Diego County Bar Association Bridging the Gap program.

In 1972, Judge Orfield earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of California at San Diego, and obtained his law degree from California Western School of Law in 1977. Judge Orfield also completed one year of graduate study in Microbiology and Immunology at Duke University in 1974.


Judge Orfield’s professional recognitions also include:

  • Presiding Judge of the San Diego Municipal Court
  • Chairman of the Metropolitan Municipal Courts Association
  • President of the San Diego Judges Association
  • President of the Oliver Wendell Holmes American Inn of Court (now the Fiorenzo V. Lopardo American Inn of Court)
  • Co-author of the San Diego Municipal Court Civil Independent Calendar System, and service as its first Supervising Judge
  • Honored by The North County Bar Association for his Dedicated Service, Civility, and Judicial Ideals and Ethics (2009).
  • Honored by the San Diego County Bar Association for his Professionalism and Civility (2008)


Primary Areas of Focus

  • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
  • Medical and Legal Malpractice
  • Construction Defect Litigation
  • Business Disputes
  • Land Disputes
  • Breach of Contracts
  • Breach of Warranties
  • Insurance Disputes
  • Employment Disputes
  • Home Owner Association Disputes
  • Discovery Disputes
  • Arbitration