Retired U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina has joined the D.C. office of mediation services company JAMS, becoming the latest in a long line of former federal judges to do so.
Urbina retired at the end of May after serving 18 years on the federal district court in Washington. Before his appointment, he was a judge in the District of Columbia Superior Court from 1981 to 1994. He holds a place in history as the first Hispanic judge to serve on both Superior Court and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
"It seems to me that my personality and my outlook are very consistent with trying to help lawyers, and specifically trying to help parties, avoid the long, expensive and sometimes excruciating process of taking cases to court," Urbina said in a phone interview today.
Urbina is the 38th federal judge to join JAMS. In an interview with Legal Times late last year after announcing his plans to retire, Urbina said he had been approached by several mediation companies, including JAMS, but had yet to make up his mind.
Urbina said today that he found the idea of having more control over his hours, workload and types of cases appealing. "It strikes me that the pace of work is something that I think I would enjoy, and I can be as busy, eventually, as I want to be," he said.
According to JAMS, Urbina is the third federal judge to come from Washington's federal district court or court of appeals.
In a statement, JAMS president and CEO Chris Poole said that Urbina "has an excellent reputation and is well-known for being both compassionate and fair. We know how much parties on both sides respect him and that he will make a positive contribution through his ADR work at JAMS.”
Urbina will work as a mediator, arbitrator and special master for disputes spanning business, employment, government, intellectual property and a host of other areas. He said that he'd be interested, at least at first, in taking cases where he's had experience, citing discrimination cases as an example.
"Hopefully I would be the type of mediator who could get both sides to think calmly, set aside the emotional dominance involved in considering the issues and get them down to realistically thinking through what's at stake and what the options are," he said.