Practice Areas


Mediation is an informal settlement process conducted by Vanessa as a true neutral.   Vanessa serves as a catalyst to engage the parties in an exploration of their individual and shared interests and needs.  Vanessa guides parties toward understanding to enhance their perspectives and, thus, enable them to exchange their ideas for compromise, to discover fair, reasonable and sustainable options to resolve almost any situation. Vanessa has helped resolve countless disputes in Montana, including, but not limited to: divorce and family; labor and employment; contract; agency and partnerships; trusts, estates and probate; construction and manufacturing; neighborhood and quiet enjoyment; easements and property; debtor and creditor; financial relationships; landlord and tenant; human rights; civil liability; trade and commerce.

Settlement Conferences

Vanessa  has served since 1992 as a Montana District Court Settlement Master and an Appellate Mediator for the Montana Supreme Court handling all types of civil litigation (except personal injury) and family law matters.  Settlement conferences are an evaluative process, involving parties  and their attorneys.  Vanessa has developed a settlement process that combines the facilitative nature of mediation with the evaluative nature of   settlement conferences to achieve high settlement success rates with parties otherwise bound for trial.  Individual and joint sessions are used to engage the parties and their legal counsel in negotiations with a commitment by the participants to find fair, reasonable and sustainable solutions.

Divorces ​Start to Finish

Through mediation, Vanessa guides people through the transition of termination of a marriage partnership.  The family benefits from working  together to safeguard family relationships and amicably settle disputes that often arise between marriage partners.  The parties are able to develop all agreements necessary to process a legal dissolution of marriage, including property settlement, parenting  plans and child support agreements without ever having to go into Court. Mediation allows the parties to mitigate potential harm to both spouses and minor children typically involved with litigation to dissolve a marriage.  The parties can save time and money; avoid stress and unreasonable delays.  Vanessa assists the parties in the drafting of all requisite legal documents to complete a divorce in accordance with  the laws of the State of Montana and local District Court rules.

Parenting Plans

 People who work with Vanessa are committed to protecting their minor children from the harmful effects of an adversarial legal  process. Vanessa's clients recognize that children should be protected from any and all divorce conflicts.  Families deserve parenting plans that provide for their children's best interests.  All relevant parenting factors are considered.  As children age and mature, parenting plans often require modification.  Vanessa assists families with the design and development of formal written parenting plans from birth to graduation from high school.    

Property Settlements

Whether parties going through a divorce or heirs to an estate, who do not agree how to fairly divide things, mediation helps people figure out a fair and reasonable division of all real and personal property.  Division of property (and allocation of debts that may exist) often is the centerpiece for personal financial security and welfare.  Vanessa conducts mediation sessions and settlement conferences to help parties discover how  to make fair and reasonable provisions for everyone involved.  Parties are able to achieve equitable, fair and reasonable divisions of their marital or inherited estates.  

Moderator/Facilitator Keynote/General Speaker

Vanessa  is available by appointment to conduct and moderate public and private meetings.  With 34 years of experience as a lawyer and more than 25 years as a mediator and settlement master, Vanessa helps groups discover and define their mission, purpose and evolving objectives, as well as to effectively address any organizational conflicts. Vanessa leads meetings with a commitment to focus on principles rather than personalities.  Vanessa is also available as a public speaker, key note speaker or as a presenter of select legal and conflict resolution topics. NOTE: We recommend 90-days advance scheduling for speaking engagements and events.

Mediation Coaching

Vanessa is available to provide individual and group coaching sessions for practicing attorneys and other professionals who wish to enhance or develop their mediation skills. Vanessa welcomes all who want to learn more about service as a neutral and as a peacemaker, as well as those who wish to become more involved in conflict resolution for their clients, communities, families and world.