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Special Masters

Did you know parties can retain a temporary judge with the qualifications and expertise to decide the entire dispute or resolve parts of the dispute through mediation? Given the backlogs created by the pandemic, now might be the perfect time to consider using one of our former federal judges as a special master and keep your dispute moving forward.

FedArb’s panel of more than 60 retired judges, each with decades of trial and ADR experience in virtually every practice area, enable the parties to move their case forward with discovery needed to resolve pretrial matters and prepare the case for trial or meaningful settlement discussions. Additionally, all of the FedArb panel is supported by our team of case managers to provide 24×7 administrative services.

Timely hearings. Our special masters can schedule hearing dates quicker than a court—often on a week’s notice and they are readily accessible to quickly review briefs and hear motions.

Process flexibility. Parties select a Special Master and determine the capacity in which they will serve, from deciding discrete issues, managing discovery, or holding a full bench trial. Parties may also choose whether the decision is binding or can appealed back to the Court.

Full procedural rights. Special Masters operate under established rules of evidence and the right of appeal is preserved. Just file a stipulation with the court providing for FedArb’s special master to serve as a temporary judge (Cal. Const. Art. 6, § 21) or as a consensual or all-purpose referee (CCP § 638).

  • resolve discovery disputes– FedArb special masters devise and manage discovery plans and supervise ongoing issues, including monitoring depositions and resolving discovery disputes. They determine what electronically-stored information (ESI) is reasonably accessible or recoverable and rule on questions such as search parameters, native formats, disclosure of meta data and determinations about technology assisted review (TAR).
  • resolve privilege issues,
  • conduct Markman hearings in IP cases
  • resolve motion for summary judgment
  • resolve motion in limine
  • resolve motion to dismiss
  • resolve motion to compel
  • resolve motion for class certification
  • resolve motion for approval of settlement terms and agreement
  • resolve motion for attorneys’ fees and costs

Click Here to See Our Special Masters


In a Multi-District Litigation (MDL), individual lawsuits filed in federal courts across multiple states are consolidated and transferred to a single federal court to resolve and administer common issues. In recent years, parties and the transferee courts have turned to ADR providers to help resolve some of the largest and most high-profile matters.

FedArb’s panel of retired judges, neutrals and case management team are experts at managing the complexities and substantial administrative details involved in large, complicated actions. Our panelists have served in a number of roles, including conducting months-long pre-trial settlement discussions with numerous constituencies around the country, conducting hearing on specific aspects of the case (i.e., Markman hearings in intellectual property cases) or managing some or all of the pretrial discovery process (including reviewing extensive privilege logs);. They work in tandem with the federal court judges, magistrate judges and parties to create a smooth and effective settlement process.

MDLs often utilize a special master to manage parts of a particularly complex case involving many parties and issues that typically take years to litigate. Some of our panelists have been appointed special masters to manage some of the largest cases in the county. Given the scope and size of these proceedings, using FedArb to manage them is a practical, cost effective and valuable consideration for all parties.

MDL Advisory Committee

Recently, FedArb assembled leaders in MDL Litigation to work with leaders in the judiciary, the MDL bar and in academia to contribute their expertise, experience and thought leadership to foster and develop best practices. Explore more about our advisory board here.

The members of the advisory board are FedArb panelists:


Among the issues that the committee seeks to lend their expertise are:

  • Allocation of attorneys’ fees in non-class action MDL settlements
  • Interlocutory review of MDL decisions
  • Issues regarding mandamus in the opioid cases
  • The concept of a Negotiating Class, advanced by the late Francis McGovern and Bill Rubenstein
  • What are the obstacles to effectiveness of MDL consolidations?
  • Is the criticism of the use of special masters in MDLs warranted?
  • Should there be a template for the responsibilities of a special master in an MDL?

Click Here to See Our MDL list

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Disclaimer   This website is not a solicitation for business. All content on the FedArb website is intended to provide general information about FedArb and an opportunity for interested persons to contact FedArb. The content of this website is not offered as legal advice or legal opinion and it should not be relied upon for any specific situation. FedArb neutrals are not engaged in the practice of law and no attorney client relationship is intended. This website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a complete description of FedArb services. While FedArb endeavors to keep the information updated and correct, FedArb makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in this website. No guaranty is made of the neutrality of FedArb’s arbitrators and the use of the term “Neutrals” is for descriptive purposes only.