Steven Albert Wawra

Steven Albert Wawra: Attorney with Wawra Business Mediation Services


His mediation and communication counseling skills have been developed over ten years of experience, which included conducting over 1000 mediations and settlement conferences, mediation training and seminars, and teaching alternative dispute resolution courses. Some relevant experiences are as follows:

Experiences and Education Related to Mediations

- Real Estate

He has mediated and arbitrated numerous real estate purchase and sale, leasing and brokerage disputes. His extensive knowledge of real estate is based on both business and legal experience related to the acquisition and leasing of various types of real estate buildings and projects. As general counsel and senior vice president of Mitsui Real Estate Sales, U.S.A., Co., Ltd., he worked closely with Japanese corporate officers in the acquisition, joint venture development, and leasing of office, R&D, industrial/commercial and multi-family projects. For eight years, he acted exclusively as a real estate broker for U.S. and foreign entities.

He also worked as an associate with the major international law firm of Graham & James (later combined with the international law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey) on Japanese banking, trading and corporation matters.

Steve has had legal, business and mediation experience involving major Japanese corporations. His understanding of Japanese negotiation and cultural ways is based on many years of experience in working with Japanese corporations and individuals.

- Business, Contract, Commercial, Corporate, and NASD/FINRA Securities

Steve has also mediated and arbitrated numerous business and securities disputes. His experience in business matters is based, in addition to his eight years with Mitsui Real Estate and a significant period working as real estate broker, on five years as an associate general counsel of Vidal Sassoon, Inc., an international hair and skin care company, and as assistant general counsel, assistant to the president and corporate secretary of Shareholders Capital Corporation, a then prominent publicly-held company involved in the offering and management of mutual funds and real estate limited partnerships. He has also managed a representative law office for a New York law firm, and was executive director of a community mediation center. Also, as an arbitrator and mediator for the NASD/FINRA, he has arbitrated and mediated various securities brokerage/client and employment disputes.

- Employment

In employment matters, he has mediated numerous disputes for the U.S. Postal Service as a member of their Redress EEO Complaint panel, as well as employment cases from various other sources.

- Automobile personal injury, slip and fall, lemon law and many others.

Broad variety of cases in mandatory settlement conferences and mediation panels. Steve has conducted over 700 mandatory settlement conferences involving a broad variety of cases on a regular basis for over ten years through IVJC, for many years a non-profit affiliate of IVAMS, a major dispute resolution provider in the Inland Empire, which had a contract to provide such services for all superior courts in San Bernardino County. He has also mediated a broad variety of cases as a panel member for Superior Court ADR programs for the counties of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside and for the US District Court.- Mediation/Arbitration Training Seminars and Courses

Over many years, he has received mediation training in numerous courses from the Straus Institute at Pepperdine Law School and others. For information, please click on the ADR Training tab.

- Instructor in ADR

He has, for a number of years, acted as an instructor for the University of California, Irvine, Extension in their Certificate Program in Conflict Management and the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

- Mediation Approach

For an explanation of his mediation approach in conducting mediations, please click on the tab for mediation services.

Experiences and Education Related to Communication Coaching

The skills used to resolve conflicts in mediation over 10 years are used to overcome problems of communication breakdown, and loss of trust and respect between family members, and individuals in family businesses and organizations.

In numerous mediations conducted for the U.S. Postal Service, a breakdown of communications, trust and respect led to grievances against management. To resolve the conflict an environment was created for an expression of issues, which although emotional, were done in a way that would give management an understanding of the impact on the employee. Discussions were conducted in a way to empower the employee to express his or her issues. Once given a full expression of issues, the employee was much better able to recognize the problems faced by management and to discuss ways to resolve the issues.

Other experiences dealing with conflicts where there had been a breakdown of communication, trust and respect was among teachers on a high school grade level and another between a dean of a department in a university and an assistant. In each case, the effects on school and department were toxic and there had been a filing of a grievance.

He received extensive experience in communication issues when working as senior vice president and general counsel of Mitsui Real Estate Sales U.S. A. Skills were required to communicate with Japanese officials in the company with an understanding and sensitivity of Japanese culture, and in discussions and negotiations of business goals and transactions desired by the Japanese company with U.S. corporate officials.

Dealing with communication issues was also involved when he worked as corporate secretary with a then major publicly-traded corporation in the mutual fund industry. Board members were often required to discuss and make decisions on matters that were highly contested, especially in a time of financial stress. Writing the minutes of discussions and resolutions adopted required a communication that was acceptable and included the discussion from various points of view.

Steve has received numerous trainings in dealing with the resolution of communication issues, including the many trainings for conducting mediations noted above. He also participated in a ground-breaking training presented by the American Institute of Mediation relating to the application of mediation skills to facilitating the restoration of communication, where there has been a communication breakdown leading to internal disputes in families, family businesses and organizations.

He also participated in an annual meeting program at the national university ombuds conference, where he presented a program on how the tools of a mediator can be used to build trust and rapport, and a meaningful communication of the issues, and lead to a discussion of options for a peaceful resolution.

- Process of Restoring Communication and Relationships

Professional Experience Highlights

- Sixteen years in general counsel’s office of three corporations-- eight years as general counsel and senior vice president of Mitsui Real Estate Sales U.S.A., Co. Ltd., three years as associate general counsel of Vidal Sassoon, Inc., and five years as assistant general counsel and corporate secretary of a publicly-held financial services company.

- Six years in private law practice, including three years with the international law firm of Graham & James (now part of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey) in Los Angeles, working with Japanese banking, trading and other companies, and three years establishing and operating the West Coast office of a New York law firm.

- Over 10 years in over 1000 cases as mediator and arbitrator on numerous court-affiliated, bar association, governmental, and private panels and as a mandatory settlement conference officer.

- Instructor in the Certificate Program in Conflict Management and the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution at University of California, Irvine, Extension.

- Executive director of non-profit Orange County-funded mediation services and training organization.

- California real estate broker for U.S., European and Japanese clients.

- Public speaker on various ADR subjects


- Conducted over 1000 mediations and mandatory settlement conferences

- Mediator since 1997 on numerous mediation panels including Agency for Dispute Resolution, IVAMS, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)/National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), Superior Court-affiliated civil mediation panels in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, United States District Court Attorney Settlement Panel, Orange County Bar Association Mediation Panel, and U.S. Postal Service Redress EEO Complaint Panel

- For the period 2001-2009, conducted a substantial number of the civil mandatory settlement conferences held in the San Bernardino County Superior Courts in Barstow and Victorville, and more recently conducted settlement conferences for the Superior Courts in the City of San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga

- Arbitrated over 50 cases since 1997 on various arbitration panels, including FINRA/NASD, IVAMS, Los Angeles Court-Affiliated Civil Arbitration Panel, and Orange County Bar Association Mandatory Fee Arbitration Panel

- Acted as administrative hearing officer for several Southern California cities


- Real Estate General

Suit by lessee against lessor for refusal to consent to assignment of commercial lease without large transfer fee and increase in security deposit

Suit for breach of purchase and sale agreement on sale of lots on lake against real estate tract developer with defense of sale conditioned on government approvals of a certain improvements

Suit for breach of contract by purchaser for non-disclosure and delays in escrow on the sale of commercial property

Suit by purchaser of residence against developer for non-disclosure of Mello-Roos lien

Suit by purchaser against developer on residential home purchase prior to obtaining subdivision approval

Suit by purchaser against savings and loan association relating to an REO residential property over certain contingencies not communicated to purchaser

Mother’s suit against son as co-owner of residence for breach of agreement to pay mortgage and ruining her credit

Suit by uncle against nephew as co-purchasers for breach of agreement to purchase residence

Tenant suit against landlord for falling tree branch on property hitting tenant causing injuries

Suit by lessee against landlord for breach of agreement relating to option to purchase residence

Suit by lessee against landlord for breach of option agreement contained in lease for purchase of residence; parties are friends and neighbors

Suit by purchaser on a land sale contract

Suit by purchaser of lot in development claiming fraud

Suit under CAR form residential purchase agreement regarding wife’s authority alone to form agreement on behalf of husband and wife

Suit involving major shopping center owner and existing anchor tenant, a major grocery company, over terms of a lease agreement

Suit by a purchaser of a residence under a CAR residential purchase agreement for fraud and return of deposit

Suit involving sale of residence where buyer occupied residence before close of escrow and performed work and seller then cancelled escrow

Suit by purchaser under residential purchase agreement involving lack of authority of seller under trust agreement and cancellation of escrow

Suit by purchaser for breach of a CAR form agreement by seller related to septic tank inspection

Suit by purchaser against seller for misrepresentation related to sale of residence under a residential purchase agreement

Suit by landlord against tenant for breach of lease agreement related to a lease of office space

Action by owner of residence against lessee for termination of a residential lease containing ambiguous terms related to right to extend

- Real Estate Broker

Suit by purchaser of residential real estate for alleged non-disclosure of major defects in framing and foundation against real estate agents and seller, with defendants stating that purchaser was aware and no damages because of intention of purchaser to undertake reconstruction of house

Suit by purchasers against real estate brokers and seller for non-disclosure related to the sale of the operations and land of an existing major franchised hotel

Suit by real estate agent against his brokerage company over agreement related to commission split agreement

Suit by real estate broker for commission on property listed for sale and then withdrawn from the market

- Title and General Insurance

Title insurance company suit to recover payments made on a title claim of a bona fide purchaser of a home who received a forged deed

Homeowner suit against escrow and title insurance company for error in paying off of loan on residential property rather than commercial property of homeowner

Suit by insurance company for pay-off on fire destruction of home under construction against homeowners insurance of home owner whose child allegedly caused the fire

- Construction

Homeowner suit for breach of contract and negligence against a contractor regarding construction of a pool, and resulting collapse of wall and water intrusion into the home

Subcontractor suit for non- payment against general contractor for supplying concrete to project with defenses by general contractor of defective work and costs to replace contractor

Suit by homeowner against contractors for alleged negligent clean up of water damage from pipe break and reconstruction and mold remediation issues

Suit by subcontractor against general contractor for non-payment; defenses claimed of abandoning job and work deficiencies

Suit against contractor for breach of contract due to defective roof repair and leaks causing water damage

Suit by contractor for unpaid work done on retail center

Suit by owner of residence for defective work under construction contract against contractor friend

Suit by carpenter for negligence against general contractor for instruction to perform certain work on roof and falling through sustaining injuries; issues of no workers compensation and employee vs. independent contractor arguments

Suit by subcontractor against general contractor as a result of injuries sustained from a falling wood beam from roof under construction

- Business/Securities

Suit by public entity law firm for alleged sale of unsuitable security to elderly investor against major securities firm with defenses stated by firm of full disclosure and document back-up

Suits by investors brought under Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA formerly NASD) jurisdiction based on alleged violations of securities laws and industry rules

Action for losses on a currency trading alleging negligent oversight against international trading company

Suit by seller for non-payment of promissory notes related to an asset purchase agreement; purchaser claims fraud in value and condition of inventory and violation of non-compete clause

Dispute between equal owners of a business including claims of breach of fiduciary duty and need for an accounting

Suit by purchaser for breach of agreement demanding specific performance against seller franchisee to sell two gas stations with issues of fault in not obtaining franchisor approval

Suit by seller of wire products for non-payment; defendant alleges defective product

Breach of contract suit of purchaser against owner of rock quarry relating to the right to multi-year supply of rocks with owner claiming illusory contract

Suit by consultant for breach of contract for non-payment of commission claimed due for baked goods introduction and sales to retail vendors

Suit for collection of amounts owed for leased equipment; issues of overcharging and lack of accounting records

Suit by supplier of electric equipment for amount owed

Suit by contractor for collection on work related to supply of steel to jobsite with defenses of poor quality

Suit by consultant for breach of agreement for non-payment of fees and commissions against corporation

Suit related to purchase of dental practice involving business broker and guaranty of lease

Suit involving termination of partnership agreement and accounting of assets and liabilities

Suit by contractor for non-payment on a supply of trees contract to a municipality with defense of defective trees

Action by Japanese contractor for non-payment of development fees relating to a software package developed for a subsidiary of a major Japanese corporation with defenses of defective product

Action for breach of contract for non-payment of percentage of earnings by a publicist of a musical production against production company

- Personal Injury

Personal injury suit involving oil tanker truck hitting auto on right side of small two lane road resulting in major injuries; trucker claims auto turned across road in front of him causing accident

Personal injury suit involving auto being hit and pushed by truck across freeway into oncoming traffic resulting in major injuries ; trucker says turn indicator was on to move into plaintiff’s lane and plaintiff tried to speed past in front of truck

Suit against municipality for trip and fall on sidewalk claiming dangerous condition

Suit by customer against major fast food chain for a slip and fall and resulting injuries

Suit for personal injury and property damage as a result of metal object flying off trailer and hitting auto windshield

Personal injury action by bus driver hit by auto in a chain reaction accident

Personal injury action by motor cyclist against a municipality for injuries sustain as a result of a road hazard due to failure to maintain road

Suit for personal injuries against major auto manufacturer by owner of vehicle due to molding on auto pulling away and resulting fall

Suit by subcontractor against general contractor for major injuries due to fall from scaffolding as a result of wetness and not being sufficiently lit for working on a high ceiling and walls inside a dark building

Action for personal injuries and property damage to auto, boat and trailer as a result of being struck by an auto

- Trespass and Property Damage

Suit by 1st floor tenant against 2nd floor tenant without insurance coverage for flooding caused by lack of repair of pipe and resulting vacating of premises by business and water damage to records

- Dog Bite

Suit by elderly woman for injuries from an attack by a neighbor’s large dog with medical complications and hospital stay

Suit for negligence against city police for not controlling police dog let out of patrol car after high speed chase resulting in attack and major injuries

Suit against owner of dog for a dog bite causing substantial injuries

- Attorney Fee Dispute

Legal fee dispute between client and attorney under mandatory fee dispute rules

Dispute between attorney and client over legal fees under mandatory fee arbitration rules

Suit by one attorney against another attorney over split of attorney fees on a case

Dispute mediated between attorney and client regarding legal fees charged under the mandatory fee arbitration/mediation rules - Employment

Suit by employee against school district for wrongful termination and discrimination

Suit by university professor over termination of employment agreement by university

Suit by high school teacher against school district for employment leave and medical issues

Wrongful termination and false imprisonment action involving multi-million dollar claim by associate attorney against major law firm

Suit by senior employee of major Japanese auto manufacturer sales department for wrongful termination

Suit by employee for discrimination and harassment against employer

Numerous mediations of claims under United States Postal Service REDRESS Program involving employees represented by union representatives and management


- Executive Director from 1998- 2000 of then largest Orange County-funded non-profit organization providing mediation services and training to businesses, schools, governmental entities and individuals in Orange County


- Mitsui Real Estate Sales USA Co., Ltd., Los Angeles, CA (1988-1996)

General Counsel and Senior Vice President of U.S. subsidiary of Mitsui Real Estate Sales Ltd., a leading real estate brokerage, syndication and financial services company in Japan.

- MacFarlane, Lambert & Company, Inc., Los Angeles, CA (1986-1988)

Director of International Operations for combined full-service real estate brokerage company and law firm.

- Real Estate Broker, Orange County, CA (1981-1986)

- Vidal Sassoon, Inc., Los Angeles, CA (1978-1981)

Associate General Counsel of international hair and skin care products company.

- Private Law Practice, Orange County, CA (1975-1978)

Established and operated West Coast office of Delson & Gordon, a then prominent New York law firm.

- Shareholders Capital Corporation, Los Angeles, CA (1970-1975)

Assistant General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Assistant to the President of a then major publicly-held mutual fund and real estate syndication corporation

- Graham & James (now Squire, Sanders & Dempsey), Los Angeles, (1967 -1970)

Associate attorney in the Los Angeles office of a major San Francisco-based international law firm. Assignments included legal counsel for Bank of Tokyo of California (now Union Bank of California), Marubeni America Corporation and other Japanese trading companies.


- Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law, courses and seminars: Negotiation and Settlement Advocacy, 1995; Mediation and Settlement Skills, 1997; Mediation Advocacy, 2002; Advanced Mediation, 2003; Settling Difficult Cases, 2004; Advanced Mediation Strategies, 2005; Advanced Mediation: Getting to the Heart of the Matter in Mediation, 2006; Advanced Mediation, 2008; Advanced Mediation Skills 2009; Advanced Mediation Skills, 2010

- Arbitration training courses: University of California, Irvine, Extension; National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD)/FINRA; and Council of Better Business Bureaus, 1997-2009

- Numerous additional mediation and arbitration skills training courses, 1995-2011


- Monterey Institute of International Studies, French Language and Cultural Studies, 1961

- University of Paris (Sorbonne), French Language Studies, 1960

- California Real Estate Broker

- State Bar of California

- Orange County Asian American Bar Association

- Southern California Mediation Association


- Instructor, Certificate Program in Conflict Management and the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, University of California, Irvine, Extension (courses in arbitration and survey of alternative dispute resolution methods), 1998-2004

- Presenter, Professional Fiduciary Association of California 17th Annual Educational Conference, "Restoring Relationships - A Mediator's Perspective", April 2012

- Co-Presenter, USCIB Arbitration Subcommittee to ICC, Review of California, Federal and

Various International Arbitration Standards, November 2011

- Seminar Presentation, Istanbul, Turkey, Fatih University Law School, History and Use of ADR in Southern California, currently under discussion

- Panel Member, Orange County Asian American Bar Association, "Mediation and Settlement from an Asian Perspective", Orange County, November 2010

- Panel Member, Annual Conference of the Southern California Mediation Association at the Straus Institute at Pepperdine University Law School," Use/Benefits of Mediation Certification in Choosing International Mediators", November 2009

- Panel Member, Loyola Law School, Law/ADR Career Development, 2009

- Keynote Co-Presenter, Annual Training Conference of California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, "Mediation Tools and Confidentiality for Use in Ombuds Process", Pacific Grove, CA , November 2007

- Panel Chair, Orange County Bar Association, International Section, ABC’s of International ADR, March 2004

- Class Presentation, Chapman University Law School, Mediation Experiences and Challenges, June 2003 and June 2004

- Panel Member, University of California, Los Angeles Law School, Career Development, 1997

Mediation, Temporary Judge and Arbitration Training

- Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law courses and seminars: negotiation and settlement advocacy training course, 1995; mediation and settlement skills training course, 1997; mediation advocacy, 2002; advanced mediation, 2003; settling difficult cases, 2004;advanced mediation strategies, 2005; advanced mediation, 2006; advanced mediation, 2008; negotiating, mediating, and managing conflict: evolution in a global society, 2008; advanced mediation skills 2009; advanced mediation skills, 2010

- American Institute of Mediation: ground-breaking training relating to the application of mediation skills to facilitating the restoration of communication, where there has been a communication breakdown leading to internal disputes in families, family businesses and organizations, 2010

- Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino temporary judge training: bench conduct, demeanor, decorum and ethics, 2009

- University of California, Irvine; FINRA (formerly National Association of Securities Dealers); and Council of Better Business Bureaus, arbitration training courses, 1997-2005

- A keynote speaker and attendance in annual program at national university ombuds conference, 2008

- Numerous additional mediation and arbitration skills training courses, 1995-2011

Areas of Practice (11)

  • Mediation
  • Real Estate Mediation
  • Business Medication
  • Employment Mediation
  • FINRA Securities Medication
  • Partnership/Corp. Dissolution
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Restoring Workplace Relationships
  • Rebuilding Dysfunctional Teams
  • Culturally Sensitive Mediations
  • Family Business Mediation

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
(949) 640-4500  Phone
University Attended:
University of California at Los Angeles, B.A., Economics, 1964
Law School Attended:
University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, J.D., Recipient, American Jurisprudence Award, Family Wealth Transactions, 1967
Year of First Admission:
1968, U.S. District Court, Central District of California; 1968, California

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Newport Beach, California

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