About Irwin Joseph

In 1981, I moved to Santa Cruz to establish a law practice. I was licensed by the California State Bar Association in 1982.  During the next 19 years, I moved from a litigation model to a general business, real estate and mediation practice.

Starting in 1992, after a lengthy training in mediation, I realized that there was a positive, valuable alternative to traditional litigation. I began mediating cases with regularity and with terrific results. Litigants were able to resolve their differences effectively and efficiently without going to court.

After closing my private practice, I took the bench in January, 2001 as a Superior Court Commissioner in Santa Cruz County.  I presided over, Unlimited Civil Court (1.5 years), Family Court (4 years), Juvenile Delinquency Court (1 year), and Misdemeanor Criminal Court (3.25 years).

In 2011, after a short hiatus from the Court, I began serving as All Purpose Judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court Family Court, a Commissioner assignment I enjoyed for almost four years.  I retired from the Santa Clara Bench in February, 2016 after almost five years.

While on the bench, I created and expanded a Judicial Mediation program in the Family Department in both Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County. I assisted parties in settling over 90% of the cases assigned to me for Mediation at a Judicially Supervised Settlement Conference.

In addition, I served on Faculty for the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) at the AOC, Faculty for National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Domestic Violence Training, and The Elkins Family Law Task Force.

I served as Adjunct Faculty at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law.  There, I taught judges, court personnel and attorneys about Mediation in Dissolution and Parentage cases.  The training I co-created has been taught by me twenty-three times in California, Vermont, Tennessee, and Maryland since 2009.

In October, 2015, I co-taught seventeen Judges and Attorneys in Singapore as part of a six-day (32 hour) Pepperdine/Straus training entitled "Mediating the Litigated Case."

I returned to Singapore in November, 2016, to co-teach "Family Law Mediation: When Time Is NOT On Your Side" to thirty-six Judges, Attorneys and Mediators. It was a three day training.  We were invited back as part of a Mediator Certification Training in March, 2018.

Since 1992, I have mediated thousands of disputes with a very high rate of success. 

Since 2001, I have presided over trials and hearings in thousands of cases. 

Since 2014, I have settled more than 90% of the cases brought to me for mediation.

I retired from the bench in 2016 and have been privately mediating and private judging cases throughout California.

“I found Irwin Joseph to be extremely competent, neutral and his approach to mediation served both parties extremely well plus both parties saved, in some cases, quite literally, thousands of dollars by avoiding lengthy trials.”

Vicki P.


On the Bench 2001-2010

and 2011-2016

Receiving Community Service Award

Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers 

June, 2010