Mr. Collier has been in practice more than thirty-five years, as a trial lawyer and as a mediator/arbitrator. His trial practice has focused on fiduciary duty issues, in business disputes (partnership dissolutions, unfair competition, insurance coverage, bad faith disputes) and, for the past fifteen years, in trust and probate litigation. He has represented beneficiaries and trustees, both individual and institutional, in removal and surcharge proceedings, cases involving interpretation and modification of trusts, and will and trust contests. Mr. Collier prides himself upon thorough research into the law and the facts, and on skillful oral and written presentations. As a neutral, Mr. Collier has served in over 400 mediations and arbitrations covering a wide range of subject matter, number of parties, and dollars in dispute. Mr. Collier has proven to be particularly effective in high-emotion disputes where respect for the emotional dynamics of a dispute as well as thorough understanding of the facts and law allow him to build credibility — and settlement scenarios — with the parties and their counsel.
I have represented individual and corporate clients, as plaintiffs and defendants, in trials, arbitrations and mediations of commercial disputes including actions relating to trade secrets and trademarks, distributor termination, partnership dissolutions, shareholder disputes, real estate, insurance coverage, and, especially in the last fifteen years, probate/trust matters.
Northern California Super Lawyer
2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
- In a multi-million dollar claim by surviving spouse/beneficiary, obtained on behalf of a trustee a trial court ruling that the claim constituted a “contest” in violation of the terms of the trust; ruling upheld on appeal in Genger v. Delsol (1997) 56 Cal. App. 4th 1410.
- Representing a trustee in connection with claim by surviving spouse/beneficiary to trust assets and for surcharge against trustee, successfully moved to have claims dismissed and trustee’s fees and attorneys’ fees paid from trust assets.
- Represented surviving spouse/beneficiary in action brought by other beneficiaries involving interpretation and application of terms of trust; adverse trial court order regarding trust interpretation reversed on appeal, and favorable trial court ruling on beneficiary status affirmed on appeal.
- Obtained favorable settlement for trustee in multi-million dollar claim brought by surviving spouse/beneficiary involving claims of undue influence and cross-claims of legal malpractice against drafters of trust.
- In two disputes involving large charitable trusts, on behalf of trustees brought a successful cy pres petition to redefine beneficiaries, but unsuccessfully opposed a petition to modify the trust (Boys and Girls Club of Petaluma v. Walsh (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 1049).
- Following a protracted arbitration hearing in proceeding brought by adult siblings against corporate and individual co-trustees of a large family trust, obtained on behalf of co-trustees an award rejecting claims of breach of fiduciary duty, waste, self-dealing.
- Handled three-year negotiation on behalf of beneficiary/co-trustee of three multi-million dollar family trusts for distribution of assets including operating businesses, LLCs, S-Corporations.
- Represented executor/beneficiary in successful defense of revocation of probate, will contest proceeding.
I first trained as a mediator in 1993, and have served as a mediator or arbitrator in over 400 disputes over a wide range of subjects, dollar amounts, and number of parties.
- Legal malpractice claims involving employment, securities, broker-dealer, partnership, trust, real estate issues.
- Partnership and close corporation disputes relating to cellular phone licenses, restaurant ownership, convalescent facility, real estate development, marketing services, energy technology, retailing and hospitality businesses.
- Intellectual property disputes relating to trademark infringement, licensing agreements, trade secrets.
- Breach of contract claims relating to commercial leases, distribution contracts, payment of attorneys’ fees, equipment purchases, stock options, software licensing sales commissions.
- Appraiser, engineer, accountant malpractice claims.
- Employment disputes involving discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination.
- Insurance coverage disputes involving first- and third-party claims, bad faith claims, insurer rescission claims.
- Trust and probate disputes, including undue influence, prohibited transferee, breach of trust claims.
- American Arbitration Association Mediator and Arbitrator Panels
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of California’s ADR Program, Mediator and Early Neutral Evaluator Panels
- Appointed Member of the Northern District of California’s ADR Rules Committee
- Past President, The Mediation Society
ADR Training (Faculty)
- United States District Court, Northern District of California: Early Neutral Evaluator Training (1993, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2015); Training for ADR Neutrals (1997); Workshop: “Effective Lawyering in Mediation (1998).
- American Arbitration Association: Basic Real Estate Arbitrator Training (1994); Advanced Mediation Advocacy Training (1997); “Advocacy in Mediation: Advanced Training for Corporate and Outside Counsel” (1997); “Dealing with Delay Tactics in Arbitration” (2005, 2010).
- Guest Lecturer and Trainer in mediation and negotiation courses at Stanford Law School, Santa Clara Law School, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, First and Second Appellate Districts, California Court of Appeal.
- ENE Trainer for Fresno County, Los Angeles County and Stanislaus County Superior Courts
- Cooper, White & Cooper, LLP February 2008 – present
- Partner, Litigation and Mediation/Arbitration practice
- Titchell, Maltzman, Mark & Ohleyer, P.C. June 1993 – January 2008
- Managing Partner, Litigation and Mediation/Arbitration Practice
- Farella, Braun & Martel (San Francisco) 1979 – 1993
- Litigation Partner 1986-1993
- University of California, Berkeley 1969-1976
- Assistant Professor, Department of English
- Distinguished Teaching Award 1975
- J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, U.C. Berkeley, 1979
- Ph.D. (English), Washington University, St. Louis, 1969
- M.A. First Class Honours, Edinburgh University, Scotland, 1965