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Early Settlement Program (ESP)

Do you:

  • Have a case filed in San Francisco Superior Court and want to settle sooner than your trial date?
  • Want a settlement option that is less stressful and less costly than trial?
  • Want the skills of experienced attorneys who can help you arrive at a realistic, satisfying settlement?
Consider The Bar Association of San Francisco’s Early Settlement Program (ESP).


The Early Settlement Program (ESP):

  • Helps you resolve cases quickly and economically
  • Has been a trusted program for over 20 years
  • Boasts a 78% settlement rate and 97% satisfaction rate

ESP provides:

  • Panels of one or two experienced trial attorneys
  • Two to three free hours of settlement conference time per case
  • Panelists who are matched with the case’s type of law
  • Low administrative fee of $295/party, capped at $590 for parties represented by the same counsel

What is ESP?

The Bar Association of San Francisco’s (BASF) Early Settlement Program is available as one of San Francisco Superior Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs (Local Rule 4.3). 
ESP is a highly successful ADR program that handles cases in areas of law such as business, personal injury, employment, labor, civil rights, discrimination, insurance, malpractice and landlord/tenant disputes.  ESP is unique in that panelists, in helping parties move toward settlement, may provide confidential feedback about their evaluation of the case, including opinions as to potential case value.

Please review the Policies and Procedures (62KBPDF) for the Early Settlement Program.


There is a $295 administrative fee per party, capped at $590 for multiple parties represented by the same attorney, to pay for the cost of running this program.


  1. Please complete the ESP Agreement and return it to BASF via email at or by fax, 415-989-0381
  2. When all parties have signed the ESP Agreement, you will be sent the Notice of ESP, along with an invoice.
  3. There is a $295 administrative fee per party, with a cap of $590 for multiple parties represented by the same counsel. You can pay by check, money order or credit card.
    • Check or Money Order: Make payable to BASF/ESP.
    • Credit Card: If you wish to use a credit card, please download and complete the:
      ESP Charge Form
  4. Within 15 days of the date of the invoice, you must send your administrative fee by fax (415-989-0381), email ( or mail to: BASF / ESP, 301 Battery Street, Third Floor, San Francisco, California 94111
  5. When BASF receives the fees from all parties, your matter  will be assigned to a panelist, who you will work with to set the time, date and location for your conference.
  6. If you must reschedule your ESP conference date, you must work with the other side and your panelist(s) directly to set the new date.  BASF does not need to be notified.
  7. One week before your conference, you must provide a copy of your statement to all parties and panelists with a proof of service showing all who were sent the statement. BASF does not need a copy.
  8. If the matter is settled in your ESP conference, congratulations! You must notify the Court immediately.
    Stipulation to Settlement
    Use this form to notify the court of your settlement.
  9. If the matter is not settled in your ESP conference, your initial court date remains the same.