Joan McWilliams

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney in Denver, CO

McWilliams Mediation Group, Ltd.
 | 299 Milwaukee Street, 3rd Floor, Denver, CO 80206
Phone: 303-830-0171
Fax: 303-830-8422
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2009 - 2020
Licensed Since: 1982
Practice Areas:
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
Attorney Profile

An acclaimed attorney and mediator, Joan H. McWilliams is dedicated to guiding Colorado estranged couples through the divorce process. The founder of McWilliams Mediation Group in Denver, she focuses her alternative dispute practice on a variety of family law matters, including asset and debt division, child support, maintenance/alimony and parenting plans. Her most recent book is entitled, A Parent's Guide to Understanding the Effects of Conflict and Divorce.

Ms. McWilliams received a Bachelor of Science in education and political science from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1964. In 1976, she obtained a Master of Science in Judicial Administration from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Ms. McWilliams was then awarded her Juris Doctor from the same law school in 1982. While there, she was a member of the Denver Law Review. Following graduation, Ms. McWilliams served as law clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit before entering private practice in 1983. She is admitted to practice before all Colorado state courts.

During her distinguished career, Ms. McWilliams has received high praise from her fellow professionals for the sensitive and compassionate manner in which she seeks to find resolutions for her clients. Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, she has also earned an AV Preeminent* peer-review rating through Martindale-Hubbell and a 10.0 "Superb" peer-review rating through Avvo. Ms. McWilliams has also been the recipient of the Icon Award given annually by the Family Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. A past member of the Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Foundation, she is a member of the Colorado Judicial Institute, the Association for Conflict Resolution, the Academy of Professional Family Mediators and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Ms. McWilliams is also a frequent speaker at the Colorado Bar Association's annual Family Law Institute as well as other conferences and meetings.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice Areas
Lawyer Practice Area Pie Chart

Alternative Dispute Resolution (100%): Arbitration, Mediation

Focus Areas

Arbitration, Mediation


Selected to Super Lawyers for 12 yearsbottom-image

Super Lawyers: 2009 - 2020

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About Joan McWilliams

Admitted: 1982, Colorado

Professional Webpage:


  • Recipient of the Family Law Icon Award, Colorado Bar Association
  • “Best Lawyers 2012 and 2017 Denver Family Law Mediation Lawyer of the Year” and "Best Lawyers 2018 Family Law Arbitrator Lawyer of the Year"
  • Award Recipient, Metropolitan Denver Interdisciplinary Committee on Child Custody
  • Selected for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America--Lawyer of the Year--Mediation, Lawyer of the Year--Mediation, 2019
  • Included in the Registrar of Preeminent Women Attorneys
  • Law Week Colorado 2016 Barrister's Best Mediator and 2017 People's Choice Best Mediator
  • Recipient of the DU Alumni Professionalism Award, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • Selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers
  • A.V. Rated, Martindal-Hubbell

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • CBA Family Law Section, Executive Council, Member
  • Association for Conflict Resolution, Advanced Practitioner Member
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Member
  • Colorado Bar Association, ADR Committee, Past Chairman
  • Colorado Judicial Institute, ADR Committee
  • Denver Bar Association, ADR Committee, Past Chairman
  • Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990, Advisory Group, ADR Subcommittee
  • Colorado Bar Association, Board of Governors, Past Member
  • Committee that drafted the Colorado Parental Responsibilities Bill, Member
  • Metropolitan Denver Interdisciplinary Committee on Child Custody, Member
  • American Bar Association, Business Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, & Family Law Sections
  • Academy of Professional Family Mediators, Member
  • Colorado Bar Association, Business & Family Law Sections, Member
  • University of Denver, University College, ADR Advisory Board
  • Denver Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section, Chair
  • Judicial Nominating Commissioner, Second Judicial District
  • Metropolitan Denver Interdisciplinary Committee on Child Custody, Past-President
  • Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Member
  • Mediation Association of Colorado, Past Member
  • Colorado Bar Association, ADR Committee, Executive Council of the Family Law Section, Member
  • Colorado Judicial Institute, Board of Directors, Former Member
  • Colorado Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section, Chair
  • Alfred A. Arraj Inn of Court, Master of the Bench

Pro bono/Community Service:

  • New Families New Future, Board Member

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution: Restoring the Balance,” 20 Colorado Lawyer 1087 (June 1991)
  • “ADR Contract Clauses,” 18 Colorado Lawyer 867 (May 1989)
  • “Child-Inclusive Divorce: 2008 Colorado Family Law Survey, 37 Colorado Lawyer 10 (October 2008)
  • “Mediation Revisited: Amendments to the Colorado Dispute Resolution Act,” 17 Colorado Lawyer 1297 (July 1988)
  • “WholeChild Parenting After Divorce”, International Education for Peace Conference, Vancouver, Canada (2007)
  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution,” II ESQ. 39 (1987)
  • “The Lawyer’s Duty to Promote Peace”, University of Denver Sturm College of Law Alumni Magazine, (Winter 2007)
  • “Attorney Disclosure: The Model Rules in Corporate/Securities Area,” 12 Colorado Lawyer 1975 (December 1983)
  • Parenting Plans For Families After Divorce (McWilliams Mediation, 2011)
  • “Reporter’s Privilege – Pankratz v. Dist. Ct.,” 58 Denver Law Journal 681 (1981)
  • Speaker, Colorado AFCC Conference, Denver, CO. 2010
  • US West Communications, Inc., Mediation Trainer
  • Panel Member, The Faegre Group
  • Speaker, Advanced Family Law Institute, Denver, CO. 2008
  • Panel Member, Dalkon Shield Arbitration
  • Speaker, Colorado Statewide ADR Conference, Denver, CO. 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012
  • Sexual Abuse Fact Finding Panel Member, American Arbitration Association
  • Speaker, Family Law Institute, Breckenridge, CO./Vail, CO/Steamboat, CO. 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Arbitration Panel Member, American Arbitration Association
  • Speaker, 2015 Domestic Relations Best Practice Court Institute for Judges, Magistrates, Facilitators & Sherlocks
  • Speaker, International Education for Peace Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 2007
  • Speaker, Naperville Peace Conference, Naperville, IL. 2007
  • Speaker, Collaborative Law Conference – 2009
  • Collaborative Law Training, 2004
  • Speaker, Lawyers’ Public Information Foundation, 1989-2012
  • American Arbitration Association, Member, 1993-2004
  • Academy of Family Mediators, 1991, 1993, 1999
  • Harvard Mediation and Negotiation Training, 1988, 1989
  • CDR Associates, Training 1987; Associate, 1989-91
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • “The Post-Divorce Family: A New Solution For An Old Problem,” Law Week (July 23, 2012)
  • The PeaceFinder: Riley McFee’s Quest for World Peace (Balue Fox Publishing Company 2006)
  • Judge’s Bench Book, Co-Author/Editor (Colorado Bar Association 2006)
  • “Mediators as Collaborative Team Members”, Co-Author, Chapter 10, Collaborative Law (Bradford Publishing Company, 2004)
  • “Parenting Time in Divorce,” 31 Colorado Lawyer 25 (October 2002)
  • “Your ADR Options: Mediation, Arbitration and Collaborative law,” 24 ABA Family Advocate 4 (Spring 2002)
  • Judge’s Bench Book, Co-Author/Editor (Colorado Bar Association, 2001)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Chapters 37 and 38, Colorado Practice Series (West Publishing Company, 1999)
  • Creating Parenting Plans That Work-Defining Parental Responsibilities in Divorce and Separation, (Bradford Publishing Company, 1998)
  • “Ethical and Legal Dilemmas in Mediation,” 3 MDICCC News (1995)
  • “The Role of the Attorney in Mediation,” 43 Trial Talk 6 (April 1994)

Other Outstanding Achievements:

  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers/Best Law Firms

Educational Background:

  • University of Denver College of Law, M.S.J.A., Judicial Administration, June 1976
  • University of Colorado, Boulder B.S., Education/Political ScienceColorado, June 1964

Industry Groups

  • Domestic Relations Clients
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Office Location for Joan McWilliams

299 Milwaukee Street, 3rd Floor
Denver, CO 80206

Phone: 303-830-0171

Fax: 303-830-8422

Joan McWilliams:

Last Updated: 10/4/2019

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