Daniel M. Kolkey has served as an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, and as Counsel to the Governor of California. A partner in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 2003 to 2020, Mr. Kolkey was chair of the firm’s California Appellate Law Practice Group, a member of the firm’s national appellate and constitutional law practice group, and a member of its Litigation Department. He is currently President of the California Supreme Court Historical Society.
In connection with his international arbitration practice, he has represented parties in the Iran-U.S. Claims tribunal, before the American Arbitration Association, under the then English Arbitration Acts, and in ad hoc arbitrations.Mr. Kolkey is the co-author of California’s international arbitration and conciliation code (Code Civ. Proc., § 1297.11 et seq.), was co-editor of The Practitioner’s Handbook on International Arbitration and Mediation (Juris Publishing), and chaired the California Supreme Court’s working group that proposed and drafted the statute authorizing out-of-state and foreign attorneys to represent their clients in international commercial arbitrations in California. He has served as an adjunct professor teaching international arbitration at McGeorge Law School.
Chair of the Board of Directors of California Arbitration, the voice of the California international arbitration and ADR community.
Mr. Kolkey received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1977 and his B.A., with distinction and departmental honors, from Stanford University in 1974. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at the end of his sophomore year.
Following a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Dudley Bonsal in the Southern District of New York from 1977-1978, Mr. Kolkey joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as an associate, and was elected as a partner six years later in 1984. As a partner, he represented the Governor of California in the State’s redistricting litigation and in ballot litigation and subsequently represented the Arizona House of Representatives in its redistricting litigation. He also handled commercial litigation and had an international commercial arbitration practice, during which he co-authored California’s international arbitration and conciliation code.
From January 1995 to December 1998, he served as Legal Affairs Secretary and counsel to California Governor Pete Wilson. As Legal Affairs Secretary and counsel, Mr. Kolkey was responsible for all of the legal advice within the Governor’s Office; approving all state agency appeals; supervising and directing litigation strategy with respect to lawsuits brought against the Governor in his official capacity; drafting the Governor’s civil justice reform legislation; and negotiating tribal-state compacts under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
He thereafter served for five years (1999-2003) as an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, in Sacramento, and thereafter rejoined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as a partner in its San Francisco office in November 2003.
During his tenure at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher from 2003 to 2020, he focused on California appellate litigation, served as chair of the firm’s California appellate practice, acted as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lead negotiator for tribal-state compacts under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and advised two governors in Florida on legal issues. As an appellate attorney, he represented parties in a broad range of disputes involving, among others, construction, insurance, real estate, employment, Proposition 65, unfair competition, legal malpractice, California environmental law, and administrative law.
In May 2010, the California Chief Justice appointed him to the California Judicial Council’s Appellate Advisory Committee, and in September 2013 and September 2016, the Chief Justice reappointed him to a second and third term, respectively. In October 2013, he was named as chair of the Appellate Advisory Committee’s Appellate Rules subcommittee, where he served for six years and which recommends revisions to the appellate rules for the California Courts.
Ranked consistently in the first tier for California Appellate Litigation by Chambers USA from 2010 through 2020, he was awarded the prestigious Clay Award as an Attorney of the Year in the fields of Government/Public Policy, Appellate law, Real Estate and Development, Sports Law, and International Arbitration for “extraordinary achievement” in the years 2004, 2006, 2015, 2016, and 2018 respectively.
The Daily Journal also named him as one of the top 100 lawyers in California in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2018, and 2019.
- Appointed by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to chair a working group to recommend to the Court whether to authorize out-of-state and foreign attorneys to represent their clients in international commercial arbitrations held in California. The working group’s report was unanimously endorsed by the California Supreme Court (2017). In 2018, its recommendation, drafted by Mr. Kolkey, was unanimously enacted into law by the California Legislature and signed by the Governor (Senate Bill No. 766).
- Appointed by the California Judicial Council’s Appellate Advisory Committee as Chair of its Rules Subcommittee (2013 – 2019).
- Appointed by the California Chief Justice to the California Judicial Council’s Appellate Advisory Committee (2010 – 2019).
- Elected to the Board of Directors of the California Supreme Court Historical Society (2013 – present); elected as Vice President from 2018 to 2020; elected Secretary from 2021 to 2022; and elected as President of the California Supreme Court Historical Society in 2022.
- Elected to membership in the American Law Institute (2003 – present).
- Elected as chair of the board of directors of California Arbitration, Inc. (CalArb) in 2022.
- Appointed to the California State-Federal Judicial Council (2001-2003).
- Appointed by the California Judicial Council to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Jury System Improvement (1996).
- Appointed by the Governor to the California Law Revision Commission (1992-94), and elected chair of the Commission (1994).
Mr. Kolkey is co-editor of The Practitioner’s Handbook on International Arbitration and Mediation (Juris Publishing) and was an adjunct professor teaching international arbitration at McGeorge Law School from 2001-2004.
He is admitted to practice in all California state and federal district courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and the United States Supreme Court.
He presently serves on the executive committee and board of directors of Pacific Research Institute where he chairs the California Reform Committee and the Finance Committee.