“‘Thank you’ doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of my gratitude to you. You made the demise of my marriage and my entire adult lifestyle as painless as possible. I am eternally grateful for your expertise, talent, and integrity.”

—LG, Divorce Client

Brigitte Schmidt Bell

Brigitte Schmidt Bell Profile Picture

Brigitte Schmidt Bell, J.D.
Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

Brigitte Bell, one of the founders and first Co-Presidents of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois (CLII), has been a mediator and lawyer for over 30 years, focusing her interests and efforts in family law.  She has been elected as one of the Best Lawyers in America as a Collaborative Family Lawyer.

Brigitte has been actively involved in the conflict resolution field since 1985, teaching conflict resolution at Loyola Law School, DePaul’s School for New Learning, and the Chicago Centers for Family Health, and serving as a Board  member, volunteer mediator, and trainer at the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR). She speaks nationally and locally about mediation and family law issues (parenting, financial, and policy/process issues).  She has served as the Chair of the Excellence and Best Practices Committee for CLII, on the Strategic Planning Committee, and Chair of the Past Presidents’ Advisory Board. Brigitte currently provides mediation skills training for collaborative professionals through Loyola Law School.

Brigitte fervently believes in mediation and Collaborative Law as non-adversarial, problem-solving approaches to divorce and family issues and is committed to practicing in ways that foster respect, self- determination, and constructive resolutions.  She has put this belief into practice by heading up one of the very few family law firms in the country in which all of the attorney-associates are mediators and Collaborative Fellows committed to these approaches.  She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Chicago Law School.

 

Professional Experience

1993 – present
Brigitte Schmidt Bell, P.C.
Owner, Attorney, Mediator, Collaborative Fellow

2002 – 2006
Illinois State Board of Education
Mediator

National Arbitration Forum
Panelist

Evanston Ecumenical Action Council (now Evanston Interfaith Council)
Facilitator

School for New Learning
Mediator – issue of defining characteristics for new dean

1990 – 1993
Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered
Family Law Officer

1987 – 1990
McDermott, Will & Emery
Associate Attorney

1985 – 1987
Jenner & Block
Associate Attorney – litigation

1982 – 1985
Butler, Rubin, Newcomer, Saltarelli, & Boyd
Associate Attorney – litigation

1979 – 1982
Jenner & Block
Associate Attorney – litigation, winning 7th Circuit Criminal Appeal

1978 – 1979
U. S. District Court for the Northern District
Clerk, Honorable George N. Leighton

1978 – 1978
Winston & Strawn
Law Clerk – litigation

Outreach

2010, 2009
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Co-trainer with Margaret Powers – “Giving and Receiving Feedback”

2009, 2008
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Presenter – “Collaborative Team Building”; “Helping Families Divorce with Respect”

2008
Chicago Bar Association
Presenter – “Helping Families Divorce with Respect, Confidentiality and Focus”

2008, 1996
Illinois State Bar Association
Presenter – “New and Emerging Alternative Dispute Resolution”; “Preparing your Case and Client for Mediation”

2006, 2005, 2004, 2003
Chicago Center for Family Health
Trainer – “Advanced Mediation Internship”

2003, 2002, 2002, 2001
Association for Conflict Resolution
Presenter – “Ghosts at the Table: New Significant Others”;“Self-Revelation: Link or Noose”; “Live Mediation Demonstration”;“Prayerful Mediation”

2001, 1999, 1998, 1997
National Business Institute
Presenter – “Child Custody Issues”; “Family Law in Illinois”;“Child Custody and Visitation”; “Equitable Distribution in Divorce”

2001
Association of Family, Court, and Community Professionals
Presenter – “Judicial Dispute Resolution: Is it Mediation?”

1998, 1997, 1996, 1996, 1995, 1994
Academy of Family Mediators
Presenter – “Getting Past Impasse”; “Time and Timing in Mediation”;“Mediating Financial Issues in Divorce”; “Mediating with Low Income Families”;“Tough Attorneys, Rough Cases”; “Neutrality and Best Interests of Children”;“Working with Attorneys in Mediation”; “Ethics of Suggestions”

1998, 1996, 1994, 1993
Wisconsin Association of Mediators
Presenter – “Time and Timing in Mediation”; “Changing Perspectives: Reframing”;“Intake: Setting the Stage”; “Case Assessment for Family Mediation”; “Ethics of Making Suggestions in Mediation”

1995
Academy of Legal Studies in Business
Presenter – Workshop: “Teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution”

Recognition

2011, 2010, 2009
Leading Lawyers
Family Law

2011, 2010, 2009
Leading Lawyers
Alternative Dispute Resolution

2011, 2010
Best Lawyers of America
Family Law

2011, 2010
Best Lawyers of America
Alternative Dispute Resolution

2011 since 1995
Martindale Hubbell
AV rated

2010, 2009
Chicago Volunteer Legal Services
Distinguished Achievement Award

2010
Center for Conflict Resolution
Distinguished Service, Outstanding Contribution as a Board Member 1985-2010

2009
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Recognition as Founder and Co-president 2002-2004

2004
Center for Conflict Resolution
25 Most Influential People

Professional Memberships

Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Founding Member – Co-President 2001-02,Board of Directors 2001-2008,Excellence and Best Practices Committee Chair 2005-10,Fellow 2002-present

Bar of the Northern District
Admitted member

United States Tax Court
Admitted member 1982

Illinois State Bar Association
Dispute Resolution Council 2001-03

American Bar Association
Family Law; Dispute Resolution

Chicago Bar Association
Family Law Committee

Circuit Court of Cook County
Guardian Ad Litem 1990-present

Illinois State Bar Association
Committee on Training for Child Representatives 2000-01

Legal Assistance Foundation Children’s Rights Project
Advisory Board 1985-90; Chair 1985-86

Academy of Family Mediators
Practitioner; Member; Consultant

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
Member

American Arbitration Association’s Panel of Arbitrators & Mediators
Member

Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (now Association for Conflict Resolution)
Associate Member

NJC Eviction Court Pilot Project
1988

NJC Internal Matters Peer Review
Chair 1998

Center for Conflict Resolution
Board of Directors 1987-2010, Volunteer Mediator 1985-present

Conflict Management, Inc.: Harvard Negotiation Project
Participant

Mediation Council of Illinois
MemberBoard of Directors 1994-present; Vice President 1996-99

Women’s Bar Association
Member

Cook County Voluntary Court Facilitation Program

Education

1979
University of Chicago, School of Law
Juris Doctor

1970
Swarthmore College
Bachelor of Arts

Training

2011
Institute for Powerful Non-Defensive Communication
Trainer Training – Sharon Ellison

2011
American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers
The Big Picture – Advanced Family Law

2010
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Taking the War Our of Our Words

2009
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Uncovering the Mysteries of Coaching – Peggy Thompson

2009
Center for Conflict Resolution
Elder Mediation Training – Zena Zumeta

2008
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Advanced Collaborative Practice – Paula Tessler

2008
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Interdisciplinary Team Practice

2007
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Advanced Team Building

2007
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Conflict Resolution Training – PNDC, Sharon Ellison

2007
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Advanced Collaborative Practice

2006
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Advanced Collaborative Practice

2006
Institute for Family Law Professionals
Taking the War Out Of Our Words

2006
Illinois State Board of Education
Advanced Mediation and Dispute Resolution Technique – Kenneth Cloke

2005
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Advanced Interdisciplinary Training

2005
Dynamics of Family Violence
2004
Center for Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution Training

2003
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Interdisciplinary Training

2002
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Interdisciplinary Training – The Atlanta Group

2001
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Interdisciplinary Training – Chip Rose

2000
Center for Conflict Resolution
Advanced Mediation Training

1988
Center for Conflict Resolution
Mediation Training

1985
Center for Conflict Resolution / Neighborhood Justice
Basic Mediation Training