Nancy Friedman Atlas

U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas Houston Division (Ret.)

The Honorable Nancy Friedman Atlas (ret.) served as a United States District Judge from 1995 to 2022, after an accomplished 21-year legal career in commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution. During her 27-year judicial career on the Houston, Texas federal bench, Judge Atlas presided over thousands of civil and criminal cases, many of which were resolved at trial or on dispositive motions. Houston Bar Association members consistently gave her among the highest ratings of all the judges in the Southern District of Texas, reflecting that she issued thoughtful and timely rulings while demonstrating respect and a patient demeanor with counsel and parties. Judge Atlas also served from 2017 through 2021 as one of the four judicial mediators appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to assist in resolving the Puerto Rico Insolvency Cases.

Before her judicial service, Judge Atlas had an active business litigation practice at a commercial law firm and as an Assistant United States Attorney (Civil Division) in New York City and then at a commercial law firm in Houston. She pioneered the practice of mediation in commercial cases in Houston starting in 1990 and mediated almost 500 cases between 1990 and 1995 before her judicial appointment. Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge Atlas was instrumental in designing the ADR Program for the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Texas. She supervised management of that program while a judge, and it remains in effect today.

After resigning from the bench, Judge Atlas founded Atlas ADR, PLLC, through which she is available to provide services as a mediator, arbitrator, special master, and e-discovery neutral; preside over mock trials and moot court sessions; consult on litigation and settlement strategy; and conduct neutral case evaluations. She has handled matters involving a wide variety of commercial, intellectual property, technology, insurance, bankruptcy, and construction subjects. Judge Atlas also is a member of the Federal Arbitration, Inc.’s (FedArb’s) Panel of Distinguished Neutrals and has been approved as an arbitrator in an arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association as part of it Complex Commercial Cases program.

Judge Atlas has engaged in a wide range of service to the Bar, the Judiciary, the public, and other causes. She has been recognized for her efforts by many organizations and has been a frequent speaker over 30 years on numerous litigation, ADR, and substantive topics.