. . .(T)he quest is greater than what is sought, the effort finer than the prize (or rather, the effort is the prize), the victory cheap and hollow were it not for the rigor of the game.
-Justice Benjamin Cardozo



Steve Vartabedian has been with our firm’s ADR and appellate practice groups since June 2010, following 29 years of judicial experience. His work focuses on primarily alternative dispute resolution: serving as Mediator or Arbitrator, mostly in employment, real estate, personal injury and agricultural disputes. Serving as a dispute resolution neutral, Steve has regularly served as a mediator, arbitrator and referee. He has been particularly effective in mediating and resolving a high volume of challenging cases that have allowed the parties to avoid the costs and uncertainties of public trial.

Steve’s grandfather, having lost all of his direct family in the Armenian Genocide, instilled in him a strong desire to seek justice, and to this day, in his chosen profession in the law, he takes great satisfaction in settling a case. He has served at every level of the California judicial system, adjudicating matters across the entire spectrum of types of actions. While the 180 published appellate opinions he authored demonstrate the breadth of matters he has handled, he has a particular depth of experience in cases alleging serious personal injury and product defect, including those involving claims of punitive damages. Steve also has a strong background in real estate and construction litigation, employment law, medical services contracts, probate matters, and agricultural disputes. As both a trial and appellate judge, he has assisted many parties in settling their disputes prior to adjudication.

Away from work, Steve enjoy engaging with his three grandchildren and exercising. As a sports fan, he also enjoys rooting for his favorite football, baseball, and basketball teams.


  • J.D., magna cum laude, Santa Clara University School of Law
  • B.A., with high honors, California State University, Fresno

Areas Of Practice

Experienced, forward-thinking advocates who go beyond the expected for clients in dispute prevention and resolution.


  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Appellate Advice
  • Expert Testimony

Representative Cases

  • Yarick v. Pacificare (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1414
  • Johnson v. Ford Motor Co. (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 137
  • Horsford v. CSU Trustees (2005) 132 Cal.App,4th 359

Articles and Presentations

  • Panelist, “War Stories,” Fresno County Bar Association and local chapter of ABTL, 2015, 2017

Professional and community activities

  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, Fresno County Bar Association
  • Appellate Court Legacy Committee, California Judicial Council, 2006-2010
  • Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Fifth District, 1989-2010
  • Associate Justice by assignment, California Supreme Court, March 2005
  • Judge, Fresno Superior Court, 1987-1989 (Presiding Judge, Criminal Division, 1988-1989)
  • Judge, Fresno Municipal Court, 1983-1987 (Presiding Judge, 1985-1987)
  • Judge, Sanger Justice Court, 1981-1983


  • California