The first combined hearing of the 13 cases relating to the Berkeley balcony collapse has taken place in a California court.

The families of the six young people who lost their lives last July along with the seven who were injured are suing 35 companies for damages.

At the Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Brad Seligman held his first case management hearing since the 13 lawsuits were linked together into one case of complex litigation late last year. 

Judge Seligman encouraged the large group of defence lawyers representing the owners, developers, managers, builders, contractors and others involved with the development and maintenance of the complex to consider a "master pleading".

A lawyer for 12 of the 13 families and survivors said legal teams from both sides were looking at ways to streamline the process.

Judge Seligman encouraged attorneys to draft a detailed discovery plan and explained the "fairly informal" process the court follows during discovery disputes.

The case will return before the court again on 23 February.