I left the bench before I thought I would.
You see, I loved being a judge. It was a job I had the privilege of doing for almost eleven years. I really thought I’d be a judge until my constitutionally mandated retirement age many years from now.
But something extraordinary came along – the opportunity to start a new, national institute. A once-in-a-career opportunity to change how courts, attorneys, and allied professionals work with parties experiencing divorce.
I left the bench to create the Consilium Institute. I left the bench to create the Consilium Institute’s Tapestry – a national multidisciplinary network of exceptional family law professionals.
I left the bench because I care about families.
Consilium. The word means “Council of wise advisors.” Judges in ancient Greece brought together a consilium of advisors -- the people who knew that family best, to help the judge make good decisions about the family’s future.
Before I was a judge, I was a law professor, a renowned keynote speaker, a trial attorney, and a mediator. And at each point in my career, I worked on changing the laws or the rules or processes that apply to families in a divorce or custody case.
Some of those changes seemed to make incremental improvements. But nothing worked to create wholesale change for families.
The fundamental problem has remained the same — we are using 13th-century English contract law to adjudicate 21st-century families. And, in order to change outcomes for families, I could see that we needed a bold approach and a shift in thinking.
My colleague Heidi Webb created that bold approach.
Heidi Webb is a Boston-area family law attorney with a background in psychology and counseling.
As a divorce attorney, Heidi was getting good legal outcomes for her clients, but many of them would get the divorce decree and then be lost. They’d ask: “What do I do now?” That simple question shifted Heidi’s perspective on her work. Heidi created the Consilium Process almost 20 years ago, after much research and thinking about how families work, and how various business and interpersonal systems function. She created and has been using the systematic Consilium Process since then and found her clients are happier. As a bonus, she realized that she was more satisfied with her own work and she had no shortage of clients seeking her unique expertise.
Heidi approached me when she first conceived this new approach. I learned and used Consilium in my work as a judge (and now as a mediator). It makes a notable difference in helping even the most challenging families restructure and become self-governing after divorce.
We wrote a book together, From Dissolution to Revolution: Navigating Divorce Through the Consilium Process. Our book was a workbook directed to divorcing parties. While useful, the book alone wasn’t enough to create wholesale change in family law. So we co-founded the Consilium Institute to bring Heidi’s innovation to those who can change the system.
The Institute started in early 2022, and we are rapidly expanding. We did a seminar for 65 Colorado family law judges last year. Those judges told us that attorneys really need to learn and use the Consilium approach.
The beauty of the Consilium Process is that it applies whether the family is involved in litigation, mediation, collaboration, arbitration, or negotiation, or a combination of those processes. And Consilium gives attorneys specific approaches to deal with even the most obstructionist opposing counsel.
We have trained attorneys and judges in Colorado, Boston, and New York. We are expanding to include financial professionals this summer, and mental health therapists in the fall, and more attorneys in New York, Chicago, and Arizona later this year.
But the Consilium Process is more than just a “one and done” training. The heart of the Consilium Institute is the Tapestry, Consilium Institute’s membership organization. Tapestry is a national network of like-minded professionals who all want the best for families after divorce.
The Tapestry is a robust community that includes referrals, connection, and time to talk through tough cases with Julie and Heidi. Consilium’s Core Training is approved for 22 hours of Colorado CLE credit, and Tapestry members get monthly CLEs presented by national experts.
Describing Consilium and its impact is a bit like trying to explain the impact that a smartphone has on the life of someone who has never seen one and has only seen or used a rotary dial wall phone. But, in short, Consilium gives attorneys close connections with other professionals and hands-on tools they can immediately apply to systematically help every client think about long-term goals and identify and create innovative approaches to how this family will function day-to-day after the divorce is final.
If you want to learn more about the Consilium Institute and the Consilium Process, we have several different free, one-hour online CLEs coming up: May 9 at 10:00 a.m. MDT; May 25 at 3:00 p.m. MDT; June 6 at 3:00 p.m. MDT; and July 13 at 3:00 p.m. MDT.
We have an in-person Core training in Boulder County on June 2-3, 2023, hosted by Peek Goldstone. We still have a few seats available.
You can sign up for the CLEs or the Colorado Core training on our website: www.consiliuminstitute.com. Or email or call me and I’ll get you registered or answer your questions. email@example.com or 970-893-9600.
So, yes. I left the bench much earlier than I had imagined. But I can’t imagine doing anything better with my “retirement” than changing the future of families all over the country.
Come join us.
Hon. Julie Kunce Field (Ret.) In 2021, Judge Field retired from the trial court bench in the 8th Judicial District for Colorado after almost 11 years in order to co-found the Consilium® Institute and J. Field Mediation. Judge Field is recognized throughout Colorado and nationally for her leadership and trainings on issues related to domestic relations, domestic violence, mental health, mediation, and judicial and community education. Before her appointment to the bench, Judge Field was a law professor at the University of Michigan, Washburn Law School, and the University of Denver. She founded the Confidentiality Institute in 2001. While on the bench, she created and oversaw the award-winning Wellness Court. Judge Field received her B.A. from the University of Nebraska in 1982 and her J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1985. Judge Field’s three passions are (1) helping people figure out things they can’t decide for themselves; (2) teaching; and (3) changing the world for the better. All three of those passions are achievable for Judge Field and for all family law professionals through the innovative Consilium® Institute.