For over 30 years, Judge Joan Lewis has been committed to serving the legal community with compassion, deference, and toughness. During her 20-year judicial career as a Superior Court Judge, she spent five years in the Family Law Division and then presided over a Civil Independent Calendar for the last 15 years until her retirement. Throughout her time on the bench, she handled a multitude of settlement conferences in both the Civil and Family Law divisions. Prior to her appointment, Judge Lewis tried civil cases in private practice for 10 years, focused on representing healthcare professionals in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Judge Lewis has been consistently active in leadership positions on judicial committees, including serving on the court’s Executive Committee and as chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee. She has received numerous awards, including the Friend of the Community Award by the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association in recognition of her commitment to LGBTQ rights and, most recently, the Witkin Award for excellence in the practice of law and advancing access to justice.

Judge Lewis is well known for her thoughtful and fair command of the courtroom. A true people person, she is empathetic and compassionate while maintaining a position of neutrality. While there were many who did not want to see her leave the bench, it is a testament to her abilities and the amount of immense respect the legal community holds for her to see that she is being actively sought out as a neutral in the private sector.

Practice Areas
  • All Types of Medical Negligence
  • Business/Contractual
  • Catastrophic Personal Injury
  • Class Action
  • Employment
  • Family Law
Hobbies & Interests

In her spare time, Judge Lewis enjoys theatre, travel, tennis, and overall physical fitness activities.

Legal Career
  • Neutral, Judicate West (2019-Present)
  • Judge, Superior Court of San Diego County (1998-2018); Family Law Division (1998-2003); Civil Independent Calendar Judge (2003-2018) Civil Independent Calendar, Assistant Supervising Judge
  • Attorney and Partner, handling civil matters with a focus on medical malpractice, Lewis-Brisbois (1990-1998)
  • Attorney, Ault Deuprey (1987-1990)
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., California Western School of Law (1984 -1987)
  • B.S., Arizona State University (1980)
  • San Diego Superior Court Executive Committee, Member
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), Judicial Advisory Board
  • California Judges Association (CJA), Executive Committee
  • Wallace Inns of Court, San Diego, CA, Master (2017-Present)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee, Chair
Achievements & Awards
  • Recipient, San Diego Defense Lawyers’ Bench and Bar Honoree (2019)
  • Recipient, Bernard E. Witkin, Esq. Award for Excellence in the Adjudication of Law (2017)
  • Recipient, Friend of the Community Award, Tom Homann LGBT Law Association (2014)
  • Co-Author with Heather Hanson, John Gross, Steven Garfin, M.D., “Legal Implications and Strategies for Managing Complications in Spinal Surgery,” Book Chapter: “Complications of Pediatric and Adult Surgery” (2004)
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. Joan M. Lewis, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.

Consumer Class Action

  • Mediated a nationwide class action case regarding violations of the False Advertising Laws and Automatic Renewal Law.

Breach of Contract

  • An employee was accused of breach of duty of loyalty, conversion, misappropriation of confidential business information and data theft.

Sexual Harassment

  • Mediated a sexual harassment case involving three single women with children.

Family Law Issues

  • Judge Lewis spent five years in the Family Law division and handled settlement conferences.

Medical Malpractice

  • Prior to her appointment, Judge Lewis tried civil cases in private practice for 10 years, focused on representing healthcare professionals in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Real Property

  • Mediated a case where the plaintiff, a public entity, was gifted a high-end property that they want to sell.

Elder Abuse

  • Mediated a pre-litigation case involving elder neglect and abuse with a resident elopement.

General Negligence

  • During her time on the bench, she handled a multitude of settlement conferences in all types of personal injury disputes.
  • Mediated a significant bullying case with the distibution through various electronic means.

PI Auto

  • She has successfully mediated numerous personal injury cases, encompassing a wide range of incidents such as auto accidents, slip and falls, premises liability, assault and battery, sexual assault, and wrongful death.

Premises Liability

  • This was a strick liability case against a bike manufaturer and a distibuter that resulted in catastrophic injuries.

Wrongful Death

  • An individual known to the defendant as having dementia was allowed to live in an independent facility, and was found dead outside the property.
Joan Lewis did the impossible in our case. She is remarkable. She has the perfect personality for handling mediations.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto Case
I have the highest regard for Judge Lewis. I recommended her to opposing counsel, as I felt she would be an effective neutral in this case. While not yet resolved, I am very appreciative of her guidance and her skills in helping both sides make progress.
- Attorney Awarded San Diego’s Trial Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America
Judge Lewis was extremely patient with this very difficult Family Law case, listened to my client, who needed to vent, and then miraculously resolved the case where the parties were millions of dollars apart. Both opposing counsel and I were in awe, as neither of us believed the case would settle.
- Attorney on a Family Law Case
Judge Lewis is an excellent mediator. I like her style and approach. She worked very hard to get this difficult case settled.
- Attorney on a Business/Contractual Case
Judge Lewis boiled down the dispute to its essential elements, addressed those head-on, and pushed firmly for a realistic resolution. The different Zoom rooms worked effectively and we were able to communicate efficiently.
- Attorney on a Commerical Employment Sexual Harassment Case
Judge Lewis worked every angle and was very persistent in getting the parties together to resolve the blank. She was fantastic.
- Attorney on an Employment Discrimination Case
Judge Lewis is an exceptional mediator. Always impartial and her ability to listen to both sides makes her one of the best. Our case involved significant injuries that were complex in nature and her medical background lets her identify areas of concern and case valuation. She is at the top of our list.
- Civil Trial Attorney With Two Decades of Experience
She explained the process clearly to my client and did a good job listening to my client’s concerns.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Auto Case
Hon. Joan M. Lewis, Ret.
Based in San Diego | Available in All of California
Case Manager: Calina Gercke