• Construction / Construction Defect
  • Contracts
  • Arbitrator
  • Private Judges
  • Trusts/ Estates/ Probate
Memberships & Special Honors
  • California Bar, U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Ninth Circuit and District Court; Member of the Board of Directors and Secretary, Marin County Bar Assoc.; California Judges Assoc.
  • J.D., University of San Francisco, 1968
  • B.A., University of San Francisco, 1966

Judge Vernon F. Smith (1943-2023)

Affable and engaging in personal style, yet authoritative and objective in judicial presence, Judge Smith brings 25 years’ worth of experience as a trial judge to the mediation process.  Thousands of cases involving settlements in such varied matters as real estate claims, construction disputes, probate and personal injury concerns, insurance coverage, and malpractice suits have forged Judge Smith as a versatile, intelligent, extremely well-informed and prepared mediator and arbitrator.

“You’ve got to know people,” says the longtime Marinite-born-in-San Francisco native son, “whether it’s cheering with them at 49er games, table-hopping to visit with their families on Friday night restaurant jaunts, or dealing more seriously with them from behind the bench.  I believe in the basic goodness of people, so getting along with them is an easy practice for me.  Telling a joke now and then is not a forbidden exercise; and certainly working hard to understand their positions shows respect and sympathy on my part. You’ve got to know people.”

Smith, emphasizes that mediation is an art that requires discipline and hard work.  “Dedication to exploring all avenues to proper resolution is absolutely essential in this line of duty,” he says.  “You might walk into a room with three well-prepared and imaginative ideas, all of which might not bear fruit.  But, at the end of the day, it’s hard work, interactive and vigorous discussion, and a willingness to compromise that bring a sense of satisfaction to all parties.  And, believe me, when parties approach you when matters have been resolved and express their gratitude for whatever help you may have contributed, it is extremely satisfying.”

Judge Smith’s warm personality and a genuine demonstration of the art of listening go a long way in conflict resolutions that are often boisterous, hostile, awkward, and uncomfortable.  Judge Vernon Smith brings all the good characteristics of San Francisco-Marin congeniality and well-seasoned friendliness to cultivate a venue that is conducive to problem-solving.

On The bench

Judge Smith served in every assignment of the courts of Marin and has served as the Supervising Judge of the Civil, Probate, Juvenile, Family Law and Criminal divisions. He was the first Presiding Judge of the consolidated Marin Superior Court, and served several terms on the Appellate Department and as the appointed CEQA Judge for Marin.


Judge Smith served as a Marin Deputy District Attorney and later as his law firm’s trial attorney, including the handling of real estate disputes, probate matters, construction and employment cases, as well as personal injury cases as counsel for both plaintiffs and defendants.  He served as an Assistant City Attorney for Novato and Petaluma, and has taught legal courses at both College of Marin and Dominican University of San Rafael.  Judge Smith has attended the complete set of lectures on Mediation presented by the California Center for Judicial Education and Research, as well as completing the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution course on Advanced Mediation at Pepperdine University School of Law.

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