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Alternative Dispute Resolution

As a circuit judge for nearly 20 years, Judge Leesfield well understands, the time, expense, resources and stress that inheres in litigation.  As a result, Judge Leesfield provides services in a variety of areas that permit parties to fairly and efficiently resolve their disputes outside of the litigation process.

A Florida Supreme Court certified mediator, as well as a panel member (neutral) for the American Arbitration Association complex case panel, Employment panel and injured seaman’s panel, she welcomes the challenge of difficult cases.

She has served as a special master in numerous disputes, including the widely publicized dispute between the Miccosukee Indian Tribe and a prominent law firm, and has consulted for Fortune 500 companies, as well as individual Trial Lawyers preparing their experts and witnesses for trial.

In mediations, arbitrations, or special master work, her representative clients have included: Apple Inc., Justin Bieber, Burger King, Carnival Cruise lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Honeywell, Starbucks, Starwood Hotels – to name a few. She has been extremely successful in working through complex business cases, disputes between banks, Employer/Employee claims, and medical malpractice claims.






Judge Leesfield has successfully mediated hundreds cases at this time the areas of Personal injury (both on land and at sea) , Medical Malpractice Claims, Business Partnership disputes, Employment disputes, Construction defect disputes, Condominium issues and a wide variety of Civil disputes with dollar amounts both great and small.

She typically prepares for each mediation session by having confidential telephone conferences with counsel, reviewing mediation statements, and reading key documents, depositions and cases. Judge Leesfield believes that mediators should be thoroughly prepared before the formal mediation session begins, so that she can help each party evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case and viable settlement alternatives. Judge Leesfield is a certified mediator known for her creativity, persistence and intellect. In addition to helping parties resolve cases through traditional mediation, she also helps lawyers and litigants identify key factual issues and agree to a tailored and expedited discovery schedule, in cases where the parties cannot settle without first engaging in limited discovery.



Specifically, Judge Leesfield brings 19 years of judicial experience to this adjudicative process, and is a Panel member of the American Arbitration Association's Complex Cases Panel, Employment Panel, and International Panel having been chosen by a number of parties to hear cases of injured seaman, and other cases of international concern. Judge Leesfield conducts arbitrations both through the AAA, and independently pursuant to the agreement of counsel.

Generally, arbitration is a widely used process that involves the submission of a dispute to one or more neutral third parties for a final and binding decision known as an "award." The arbitrator decides pretrial motions and conducts a trial prior to making the award in writing. Awards are very difficult to overturn on appeal, and as such arbitration provides far more efficiency and finality than the traditional litigation process.


Special Master

Special Masters, also known as Special Magistrates, are appointed by the trial judge and assist the court by ruling on discovery and pretrial proceedings. Special Masters serve only if both parties consent, and often hear motions and make recommendations to the trial court. Special Masters also submit reports concerning complex issues the court may not have the time or expertise to consider. Judge Leesfield has been a go-to Special Master in some of this area's most contentious and high profile cases, and is well known for her ability to streamline litigation, resolve and make recommendations on complex issues and bring order to even the most hotly contested disputes.


Private Judging

Private judging is increasing in popularity among parties frustrated with having to wait years to have their “day in court.” The private judge serves only when both parties agree, and has the authority to enter pretrial orders and hear and decide the case just as the trial judge would. Pursuant to the governing statute, once the private judge has ruled, the circuit court initially assigned to the case enters judgment. The judgment may then be appealed to the District Court of Appeal, although the private judge's factual determinations are subject to limited review. Private judging is more efficient than the litigation process, and is expected to become more common in the years to come.


Early Case Evaluation

Early case evaluation allows the parties to jointly discuss the key strengths and weaknesses of their case, and decide whether to move forward with trial or attempt to settle their dispute. When engaging in this process, Judge Leesfield harnesses her over thirty years of trial experience both on and off the bench to help the parties identify and evaluate key issues, and streamline discovery in matters that cannot be resolved without first exploring core factual disputes.