Collaborative Law Attorneys are committed to the principles of Collaborative Law. They are specifically trained in the Collaborative Law process. The attorneys of the Collaborative Law Group of Southern Arizona are available to represent clients who wish to use collaborative law to resolve the legal issues of divorce.
Peter Axelrod has specialized exclusively in family law since 1980. He has extensive experience in all facets of representing clients, including collaborative law, mediation and traditional representation. In order to better respond to his clients' needs, Peter has earned a Master's Degree in Counseling & Guidance. His counseling experience is used to help better understand client needs and to ensure skillful communications with opposing attorneys. Having taken hundreds of divorce cases to court over the years and seeing the undue burdens placed on clients by the adversary system, Peter helped lead the effort to organize and then became a founding member of the Collaborative Law Group of Southern Arizona.
Kristi Bang-Simon was admitted to the Arizona State Bar in 1994, after graduating from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law. Since that time, she has practiced in many diverse areas of the law. Most recently, Kristi worked as an associate attorney at Pahl & Associates, a boutique law firm specializing in family law.
Kristi’s experiences in resolving family cases in the traditional fashion motivated her to explore alternative avenues to help families move forward on a more positive note. The traditional method of resolving family cases can heighten negative emotions, causing irreparable damage to future family relationships. Cases can drag on for years, devastating a family, financially and emotionally. Couples frequently walk away from the process feeling extremely hostile which never benefits children.
Parenting three children and practicing law, helped shape Kristi’s philosophy toward resolving family law conflicts in a collaborative environment. Focusing on a peaceful and pragmatic process that addresses each party’s primary interests, is what the collaborative process imparts.
The following principles are paramount in resolving cases collaboratively:
- Divorce, especially when children are involved, is one of the most emotionally charged experiences a family faces.
- Lawyers can make the process easier, working to minimize the emotional and financial burdens. The goal is to lessen the anguish for all.
- Nobody understands your family’s needs better than you and your spouse.
- In the traditional divorce setting, your family’s future is in the hands of attorneys and judges. Many times one or both parties, leave the process feeling defeated and discouraged, definitely not empowered.
- When your divorce concludes, you will still have to have contact with your ex-partner regarding holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings and other events. The collaborative process strives to help your family move toward the future with the capacity to find such events comfortable, and maybe even enjoyable.
- Working collaboratively, in most cases, dramatically decreases the expenses related to the divorce process.
If these concepts appeal to you, contact Kristi.
KRISTI BANG-SIMON, ATTORNEY AT LAW P.L.L.C.
100 N. Stone Avenue, Suite 601
Tucson, AZ 85701
Elisabeth "Lisa" Benavidez
Lisa Benavidez graduated from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2001, and she has been practicing in the area of family law since 2002. She is a regular participant in family law clinics through Step Up to Justice and through the Pima County Bar Association. She is appointed as both an arbitrator for civil cases and a judge pro tem for family law settlement conferences at the Pima County Superior Court. She often serves as a mediator in family law matters and is committed to helping people work through difficult life transitions with respect and caring.
As a former teacher, Lisa truly believes that education is the key to success. Under the Collaborative Law model, the parties are provided with the information, resources and support they need to better understand the challenges they face, allowing them to craft informed and creative solutions that are often not attainable through litigation. Lisa is committed to the principals of Collaborative Law and believes it is a healthier and more productive approach to resolving family law matters.
Outside the office, Lisa keeps busy with her own family. While her daughters are both adults and largely independent in their jobs and college pursuits, her son is still in high school. He and the family’s goldendoodle keep everyone on their toes. Lisa enjoys jogging, hiking, cooking, and attends weekly Swedish classes to keep in touch with her heritage.
Benavidez Law Group, P.C.
7400 N. Oracle Road, Suite 143
Tucson, AZ 85704
Maggie Higgins Schmidt
Maggie Higgins Schmidt, a Native Tucsonan, graduated the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2010 and immediately began her own practice in family law and criminal defense. Maggie's extensive trial background and experience in both areas of the law she practices help her understand the importance of the collaborative law process where parties can be heard more fully and efficiently come to equitable arrangements than may be done in an adversarial trial setting. When she isn't working, she enjoys reading, tennis, and traveling with her husband and three children.
Maggie Higgins Schmidt, Esq.
Law Offices of Maggie H. Schmidt
dba The Higgins Law Group
325 W. Franklin, Suite 101
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Office: (520) 624-8663
Cell: (520) 329-5788
Grant L. Stratton
Grant L. Stratton is a patient and compassionate attorney specializing in families, and children.
Grant L. Stratton graduated from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2012 began practice that same year, While in Law school, he worked in the Court of Appeals, Division 2, with Judge Espinosa. After graduation, Grant was the invited by a Pima County Superior Court Judge John Assini to participate in a pilot by-invitation-only mentorship program with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the organization that trains and certifies specialists in family law nationwide. Grant opened his own practice in 2016, and practices exclusively family law, including serving as a mediator and collaborative attorney. Grant's professional philosophy is that open, honest and direct communication about the facts, and the needs of the children and the parties will in nearly all cases lead to better results than would be achieved at trial.
On a personal level, Grant is the natural father of 5 children, and has been a foster parent to 4. He is fluent in Spanish, having spent two years abroad in Nicaragua, and volunteers time each month teaching classes to Spanish speakers for the two legal aid services in Tucson. He was awarded the State Bar Foundation's top 50 Pro Bono Attorneys award in 2018.
Law Office of Grant L Stratton
800 N. Swan Road, #111
Tucson, AZ 85711
Edina Strum graduated from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2002 and practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations at The McCarthy Law Firm. She is a State Bar of Arizona Certified Specialist in Family Law. Edina is deeply committed to resolving cases through the Collaborative Divorce model or mediation as the intensely personal nature of a divorce demands the highest level of respect as each party works through these complex legal issues. In her off-hours, Edina is an avid yoga practitioner, hiker, photographer, and animal lover.
The McCarthy Law Firm
300 N. Main, Suite 203 Tucson, Arizona 85701
Telephone: (520) 623-0341 Fax: (520) 628-9495
Sarah L. Wright
Sarah L. Wright has practiced law in Tucson since 1999. Upon graduation from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, she practiced at two of Tucson's largest and most prestigious law firms, Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P. and DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, P.C. In August, 2006, Sarah founded a boutique law firm, which is now Wright Mediation & Collaborative Law PLLC, where she focuses her practice on collaborative cases and mediation.
Sarah's philosophy in handling family law matters is to resolve cases from an experienced but compassionate perspective and well short of litigation. In her more than 22 years of experience, Sarah has found that the emotional and financial toll a family endures in a litigated case is counter-productive and has profoundly negative, long-term impacts to a family.
In the Collaborative Process, families retain control over the important issues of their lives impacting their children and their finances for many years to come. In litigation, families have no control over the results and let a judge decide these issues for them. The collaborative model fits well with Sarah’s natural approach to family law issues, creating an environment where the possibilities for successful resolution are maximized and her clients make informed decisions with the assistance of the collaborative team.
Sarah is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and has mediated countless family law cases since 2007. Sarah is also hired as a private arbitrator to assist in litigation cases. Sarah also is appointed as a settlement judge pro tem at the Pima County Superior Court and has assisted numerous families resolve their issues right before trial. Sarah was recently one of the top three judge pro tems in Pima County for her high success rate in settling litigation matters before trial. In her free time, Sarah loves to spend time with her family, travel and hike. For more information regarding Sarah and her legal practice, please view www.wrightazlaw.com.