Experienced in the Arbitration Process.
As a fulltime Arbitrator, Sperow has served as an Arbitrator in over 450 cases, ranging from single issue, one-day hearings to complex, multi-jurisdictional, multi-party, month-long hearings. She runs arbitrations smoothly, timely, and fairly. As counsel, Sperow participated in 1000s of alternative dispute resolutions, including negotiations, settlement conferences, mediation, facilitated meetings, fact-finding, collective bargaining, and of course, arbitrations. Significantly, she handled two of then largest arbitrations in history
Comments about Janice Sperow
As a fulltime Arbitrator, Janice now hears between 40-50 cases a year. When she was still a practicing attorney and law professor, Janice heard on average 3–5 arbitration cases per year. She has dozens of publicly available decisions online, plus hundreds of unpublished decisions and orders. Here’s a selection of topics her cases have covered:
Breach of Contract
Credit Card Debt
Cybersecurity & Data Breaches
Federal & State Securities Violations
Restraint of Trade
Tortious Interference with Economic Advantage
Unfair Business Practices
Unsuitability of Investment
Wage & Hour Claims
Arbitrator & Dispute Resolution Provider
After successful careers as a law professor at University of San Diego, Managing Partner at Ruiz & Sperow, and litigator at Morrison & Foerster, Janice has turned her 30+ years’ experience as an Arbitrator into her full time passion.
October 2020–Present: Hearing Officer, Port of San Diego
Personnel Advisory Board, presiding over employment disputes.
April 2017–Present: Arbitrator (AAA)
Arbitrator on AAA (American Arbitration Association) roster. Member of the employment and labor specialty roster, the commercial specialty roster, the large commercial cases specialty roster, and the workplace investigations roster. Also frequent Arbitrator on consumer, expedited, and pro se cases. Attends AAA in-person, self-paced online, and monthly telephone trainings to stay current and share expertise. See adr.org
October 2018–Present: Arbitrator & Mediator (San Diego Superior Court)
San Diego Superior Court arbitrator and mediator for civil disputes. Member of SD Superior Court Civil Mediation Panel. See sdcourt.ca.gov
January 2020 – Present
Arbitrator, Mediator, and Dispute Prevention Specialist on CPR (International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution) rosters. Member of the commercial, mass claims, employment, banking, financial services, dispute prevention, and pro bono panels. Also a member of CPR’s Dispute Prevention Committee, Mediator Panel, and CPR-FTI Legal Innovators Flat Fee Mediation Program. See cpradr.org
June 2020 – Present
Arbitrator & Mediator, FORUM. See adrforum.com
September 2018–Present: Arbitrator (National Futures Association – NFA)
Arbitrator for all commodities-related matters.
April 2018- Present
Arbitrator for the BBB (Better Business Bureau) overseeing commercial, business, automobile, contract, warranty, and consumer disputes. See bbb.org
August 2018–Present: Arbitrator (ROSE.arb.com)
Arbitrator with specialized qualification in all intellectual property disputes including patent and trade secret matters.
1989–Present: Arbitrator & Chair of the Arbitration Panel (FINRA)
Serving as Arbitrator and Chair of the Arbitration Panel on behalf of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA, formerly NASD). Qualified as Arbitration Chair, general public Arbitrator, and specialist Arbitrator in employment law, breach of contract, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Handling the full range of cases, with damages in the tens of thousands to billions of dollars. Selected as the Chair on 75%+ of her cases. As a result, served as Arbitrator in charge of the initial hearing, all discovery disputes, and pre-hearing motions as well as conducted the hearings themselves.
Present: WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Arbitrator for WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) in intellectual property disputes, specializing in the technology and entertainment fields. See wipo.int
March 2017–Present: Arbitrator (NAM)
Qualified as general Arbitrator at NAM (National Arbitration & Mediation Association), as well as an employment and labor law specialist.
1997: Hearing Officer (Single Arbitrator at MUNI)
Appointed by then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to serve as Hearing Officer for the San Francisco Municipal Railway Public Transportation System (MUNI) to resolve customer-driver disputes. Arbitrated all public rider disputes against MUNI drivers, which typically involved non-monetary relief. Neither side appealed any decision, even though they could do so directly to the MUNI executive board.
1989–95: Arbitrator & Chief Arbitrator (BASF)
Served as Arbitrator & Chief Arbitrator for the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) hearing attorney-client disputes. Cases involved billing and other substantive and fee disputes, ranging from a few thousand dollars to several million dollars. Oversaw 10–12 cases a year, of which approximately 3–5 cases a year went to hearing, for a total of 30+ decided cases.
Hundreds of hours of arbitrator and mediator training through the ABA, AAA, CPR, NASD, FINRA, BBB, NFA, San Diego Superior Court and more. Full list of training details available by request.
University of California at San Francisco, Hastings College of Law. Graduated with Juris Doctorate summa cum laude, second out of over 400 students.
University of California at Berkeley. Graduated with Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude with High Honors.
Externship & Clerkship
While still in law school, Janice started her career as a judicial extern to Chief Judge Clifford Wallace of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Upon graduation, she clerked for Judge Richard J. Cardamone of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, becoming the first graduate of the UCSF Hastings College of the Law to serve as a Second Circuit law clerk.
Practice at Law Firms
Sperow left Morrison & Foerster, joining Celia Ruiz to form Ruiz & Sperow as the firm’s Managing Partner. Serving a large variety of private and public sector clients, Sperow specializes in:
- Employment Law
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
Since its inception, Ruiz & Sperow LLP has provided full-service legal resources to an array of public and private sector clients. Sperow emphasizes:
- Preventive Measures
- Exposure Assessments
- Lawsuit Avoidance Protocols
Working with clients to develop in-house policies to address recurring problems, she has conducted comprehensive audits of policies and/or departments to recommend cost savings and best practices. Then, she assists clients in implementing such measures. Additionally, Sperow has directed several in-house employment investigations.
After her clerkship, Janice Sperow joined Morrison & Foerster, a 1,000+ attorney, full-service international law firm with over a dozen offices worldwide. Located at the firm’s San Francisco headquarters in the litigation department, she gained experience in general civil, commercial, and employment litigation matters. Sperow specialized in complex civil litigation in a wide variety of areas on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in both the litigation and arbitration setting.
Employment & Disability Law
At Ruiz & Sperow, Sperow has handled all facets of employment and disability law for public and private employers of all sizes. These topics include:
- Wage & Hour
- Disability Accommodation
- Employee Discipline & Termination
- Medical Leave Matters
Labor Relations Litigation
In the area of labor relations, Sperow represented management in issues such as:
- Collective Bargaining
- Unfair Practice Proceedings
- Advised on Contract Implementation and Interpretation
At the national level, Sperow served as President of the National Association of Women Lawyers as well as previously Executive Board Member, Treasurer-Elect, and Health Care Committee Co-Chair.
For the American Bar Association, she served as Vice-Chair of the International Human Rights Litigation Subcommittee and was a member of Law Practice Management Section and Women Rainmakers Interest Group. Served on the ABA Commission of the Status of Women in the Law. Currently a member of the Dispute Resolution Section.
At the state level, she served as Second Vice-President of the California Women Lawyers, as well as participating as a member of the Executive Committee, the Board of Governors, the Chair of CWL Health Care Task Force, and Educational Foundation.
Received the California Women Lawyers President’s Award.
Served as Chair of the California State Bar Litigation Section Education Committee.
In addition to her own practice, Janice Sperow proudly serves as a neutral for the:
- American Arbitration Association (AAA)
- International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR)
- San Diego Superior Court
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
- National Association of Arbitration and Mediation (NAM)
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- ROSE IPR Arbitration
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- National Futures Association (NFA)
- National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN)
- Port of San Diego
- Arbitral Women
- Resolute Systems
Years’ Professional Experience
Key Arbitration Examples
Stockbroker & Brokerage House:
Arbitrator Sperow chaired a nine-day arbitration between a stockbroker and his brokerage house. After another firm acquired the company, the agent claimed the merger prevented him from fulfilling his duties. So, he sought $4.5+ million in damages, declaratory relief, equitable relief, and punitive damages for alleged breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, tortious interference with actual and prospective economic advantage, constructive fraud, and promissory estoppel. The respondents counterclaimed, seeking repayment of the agent’s hiring note.
Former Agent & Securities Firm:
Sperow chaired an arbitration brought by a securities firm against its former agent for breach of contract and repayment of a loan for $2 million+.
Hedge Fund & Financial Services:
Janice chaired an arbitration brought by a hedge fund against other financial services companies for allegedly faulty disclosures.
National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN)
The National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals is a professional association whose membership consists of ADR professionals distinguished by their hands-on experience in the field of civil and commercial conflict resolution.
Membership is by invitation only and all Academy members have been thoroughly reviewed and found to meet stringent practice criteria. Members are the most in-demand neutrals in their respective states, as selected by their peers and approved by local litigators.
“We’re delighted to recognize Janice Sperow to the Academy’s California Chapter in recognition of Excellence in her arbitration and conflict resolution practice,” commented Darren Lee, Executive Director of NADN. “Janice is a well-respected, efficient, and fair arbitrator with more than 35 years’ experience handling complex commercial, employment, and intellectual property matters. We are thrilled to add her to our roster of distinguished neutrals.”
Chair of the Arbitration Panel
Janice recently served as Chair of the Arbitration Panel in a three-week, out-of-state arbitration process involving 12 claimants, 4 respondents, 2 counterclaimants, and over 10 causes of action all relating to claimants’ investment in an unregistered security. Besides requiring the interpretation of federal and four states’ laws, the case had national and international global economic significance with defenses based upon China’s entry into the solar energy field.
Sperow as Arbitration Counsel
Sperow defended the then-largest Title VII class action in history. Here’s the story:
A large insurance company lost a huge class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit in court. After an unsuccessful appeal, the company moved the case to Morrison & Foerster to handle the qualification and damages phase of the case.
In this phase, each of the 1,093 class members proceeded to arbitration, in which each had to prove an application, eligibility, and qualifications. The company could then defend the case based upon lack of qualifications, non-eligibility, or other non-discriminatory reason for non-hire.
As one of the six original arbitration team attorneys, Sperow set strategy and procedure for processing and arbitrating this large volume of claims with over $2 billion in exposure. Sperow then proceeded to negotiate, attend mandatory settlement conferences, and arbitrate a significant portion of the cases, resulting in a 99% success rate for the insurance company.
Creative. Efficient. Precedent-Setting.
Janice’s litigation experience spans many topics and includes practicing before numerous administrative agencies. While handling mostly defense cases, Sperow has also represented plaintiffs. For example, she helped a group of parents pro bono in suing a school district after the district had them arrested at a public board meeting. The charges were dropped, and the district settled.
As much as possible, Janice takes a creative approach to achieve her clients’ goal. For instance, she represented an aviation company owed money by another aviation company; she used the sheriff’s attachment procedures to attach the other company’s aircraft. With its fleet locked in airport hangars, and after a key deposition testimony regarding alleged weapons smuggling, the company paid its debt in full (plus fees) without a trial.
Sperow litigated several precedent-setting cases in the public sector.
Successfully petitioned court to remove a large Northern California school district from its twenty-four-year desegregation consent decree upon proving school district’s annual compliance and successful integration of its students. Court freed client from all federal orders and allowed the client to realign its borders and neighborhood schools. Victory eliminated student assignment quotas and granted unitary status, while preserving equity.
Successfully represented a large East Bay city when an ex-employee sued for wrongful termination claiming discrimination and whistleblower status. Case raised several issues of first impression regarding the interpretation of the whistleblower statute. Unanimous jury verdict for the city.
Successfully defended a public utilities commission in a case of first impression alleging reverse discrimination in allocating energy contracts. Plaintiff claimed that the commission’s allocation of points in its public bidding process for minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and disabled-owned businesses violated the state and federal constitutions. Won case at both the trial and appellate levels.
Successfully defended employers in several highly complex state and federal litigations involving race, gender and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, medical leave issues, whistleblowing, and workplace search and seizure, including class actions. For example, represented a public utilities commission in an age-discrimination class-action lawsuit with 500+ plaintiffs. After a lengthy trial, the jury unanimously found for the commission and awarded it its costs and expenses from plaintiffs.
Education, Government & Public Sector
As Managing Partner at Ruiz & Sperow, Janice handled:
- Routine disciplinary hearings on behalf of employers
- In-house investigations for both private and public sector employers
- Fact-finding for a large school district under a desegregation consent decree
- Teacher and classified discipline and termination hearings for several California school districts
One of Janice’s two then-largest arbitrations in history:
A large Bay Area school district laid off 600+ certificated employees (teachers) and 300+ classified staff (non-teacher school positions), nearly its entire workforce, in order to restructure its academic program. Since the California Education Code and labor contracts protect all school positions, each staff member was entitled to—and did demand—arbitration.
As outside counsel for the school district, Sperow successfully represented the school board in these 900+ individual arbitrations. The ALJs upheld every layoff, and the union did not appeal. This victory allowed the school district to avoid closure, revamp its program, rehire qualified staff, and continue today as a California Blue Ribbon model district.
Employment & Commercial Law Experience
Two key employment law examples from Sperow’s career:
Successfully defended employers in several highly complex state and federal litigations involving both state and federal anti-discrimination statutes, race, gender, age, and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, medical leave issues, whistleblowing, and workplace search and seizure, including class actions. For example, represented a public utilities commission in an age-discrimination class-action lawsuit with 500+ plaintiffs. After a lengthy trial, the jury unanimously found for the commission and awarded it its costs and expenses from plaintiffs.
Successfully represented a large east Bay Area city when an ex-employee sued for wrongful termination, claiming discrimination and whistleblower status.
Key example of Sperow’s commercial law experience:
Early in her career, Sperow represented a class against the local public utility company for antitrust and California Public Utility Code violations. After successful resolution, she became lead counsel for a consortium of alternative energy producers in their $100 million breach of contract and fraud suit against the utility for its failure to transmit alternative energy over its infrastructure. These successful cases led to a heightened awareness of the need for cost-effectiveness and viable alternative energy sources, now a part of the public utilities’ infrastructure.
Disability Law Experience
Sperow is experienced at representing clients in administrative investigations of disability claims and litigation initiated by either administrative agencies or individual plaintiffs. Disability-related claims have become some of the most complicated and rapidly developing areas of employment law.
Janice has worked with a variety of laws that may relate to disability issues, including:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
- Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)
- Workers Compensation Laws
For example, she successfully litigated a cutting-edge disability discrimination complaint alleging $1,000,000+ in damages, which was brought by a former dean claiming that the college district had failed to accommodate her disability and failed to participate in an interactive process to determine appropriate accommodations. After a month-long jury trial, obtained a jury verdict in the college’s favor and judgment against the former dean.
Past Pro Bono Litigation
Sperow knows the importance of serving the community. While at Morrison & Foerster, she served as pro bono committee member and chair of the firm’s participation in the San Francisco Community Legal Services Program.
Janice received the State of California Board of Governors’ Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Legal Services Contributions.
As a junior associate at Morrison & Foerster, she participated in a three-month pro bono program, working at the San Francisco Public Defenders Office and handling 90+ individual criminal defendant cases. The alleged crimes included misdemeanors plus assault on an officer with a deadly weapon, brandishing a weapon with intent to kill, assault on a public transportation driver, prostitution, and trespass. Pled out one case and successfully tried the rest, all with defense verdicts.
Sperow has practiced before a multitude of administrative agencies, including:
- National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)
- California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)
- United States Department of Labor (DOL)
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- State Teachers Retirement System (STRS)
- California Employment Development Department (EDD)
Training Employees & Managers
In 2013, Sperow was honored with an Award for Outstanding Sexual Harassment Training from Coronado Naval Base.
With the goal of foreseeing and avoiding litigation, Janice has trained thousands of employees and managers on many topics, including:
- Access & Requirements Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
- The Collective Bargaining Process (Interest-Based & Collaborative)
- Brown Act Compliance with California’s Open Meeting Laws
- Child Abuse Reporting in Educational Institutions
- Employee Discipline & the First Amendment
- Affirmative Action & Discrimination Laws
- Comprehensive School Safety Plans
- Sexual Harassment
- Background Checks
- Contracting Out
- Gender Equity
- Workplace & Campus Violence
- Investigating Employee Misconduct
- Legal Responses to Disruptive Incidents
- Liability for Peer Sexual & Racial Harassment
- The Hiring Process (Legal Mandates & Practical Tips)
- Technology & the Law (Including Laws Regulating Employee Computer Use)
After years of litigation and arbitration experience, Sperow decided to help train the next generation of lawyers.
Once she relocated to San Diego, Janice joined the University of San Diego Law School (USD) as an adjunct professor teaching the first-year legal writing, research, and oral advocacy program (2004). Then, she promoted to the Director of the program overseeing all legal writing instructors.
Next, Janice stepped down as Director to create and teach USD’s first advanced legal writing program, which she continued to teach until August 2017. Also, she created and taught two other programs: USD’s first Legal Analysis of Criminal Procedure class and USD’s first Fundamentals of Bar Writing class.
Additionally, Janice tutors California bar examinees—with a 100% pass rate—and coaches attorneys on advanced writing and analysis skills. Janice also tutors for BarMD, which offers bar writing and law school tutoring programs.
Janice’s recent presentations below:
- [forthcoming] Federal Bar Association, “Business Development,” June 17, 2022.
- Time to Restore the Arbitral Promise of Efficiency – Read it here.
- San Diego County State Bar Association, “Hot Topics in Arbitration: the 2022 Update,” March 25, 2022.
- AAA, Commercial Arbitrators, West Coast Roundtable, March 9, 2022, “New Developments in Third-Party Discovery Subpoenas in Arbitration,” with co-presenter Theo Cheng.
- CPR, Corporate Counsel Roundtable on Leveraging Technology to Prevent Disputes & Minimize Risks, March 2, 2022, moderator with counsel from Microsoft, Lotame, General Dynamics, and Bath & Body Works.
- AAA Webinar, “Time to Restore the Arbitral Promise: Neutral Efficiency for All,” February 15, 2022, available on demand at www.adr.org.
- ABA Dispute Resolution Section, “Arbitration Efficiencies,” January 12, 2022, with co-presented Saloni Mavani.
- New York State Bar Association, “Nonparty Discovery in US Arbitrations: The Legal Challenges & Differences from Litigation,” January 11, 2022, with co-presenter Theo Cheng.
- AAA, Commercial Arbitrators, West Coast Roundtable, September 8, 2021, “Efficiency Tips for Arbitrators,” with co-presenter Saloni Mavani.
ABA, Dispute Resolution Section, Conference, July 21, 2021, “Dispute Prevention and Clause Drafting,” with co-presenter AAA VP Aaron Gothelf.
ABA, Arbitration Institute, facilitator, “The Evidentiary Hearing,” June 18, 2021.
- ABA, Arbitration Institute, facilitator, “The All-Important Preliminary Hearing,” June 14, 2021.
- ABA, Dispute Resolution Section, Spring Conference April 14, 2021, “Third Party Subpoenas in U.S. Arbitrations,” with co-presenter Theo Cheng.
- AAA, Commercial Arbitrators, West Coast Roundtable, February 17, 2021, “Dispute Prevention: from Reaction to Pro-action.”
- ABA, Dispute Resolution Section, December 2, 2020, “Dispositive Motions in Arbitration.”
- AAA Commercial Arbitrators, West Coast Roundtable, September 16, 2020, “Dispositive Motions in Arbitration, The Tide is Rising,” with co-presenter arbitrator Reginald Holmes.
- Will Work for Food Project, Mediators’ New Possibilities Hour, October 29, 2020, “The Best Dispute Resolution is Prevention,” with co-presenter CPR Senior VP Ellen Parker. Watch the video here.