Denver Bar Association
February 2009
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A Tribute to Barbara Quade

by Christine McManus

Once in a while, attorneys master their practice and then continue to push the envelope by promoting a higher level of professionalism and practice.

Barbara C. Quade, a long-time hero and advocate of Metro Volunteer Lawyers of Denver, was one such excellent attorney, and will be dearly missed by many. Quade passed away Nov. 28, at her home in Windsor. She was 58.

She graduated from the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. She was a principal of the firm Quade, Fontana & Bonin and later established Quade Family Law. She received a lifetime achievement award last spring from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, where she served as Colorado branch president. Numerous times, Denver’s 5280 Magazine recognized her as one of the best lawyers in the state, as did the organization of The Best Lawyers in America.

Family law attorneys require a special skill set, one that can’t necessarily be learned in law school. Not only are family law clients at a low point in their lives, their emotional concerns are manifold.

Quade excelled at balancing her clients’ emotional needs. She wouldn’t push them too hard, or do something they weren’t ready for in the process of family court proceedings. It was evident that children and families came first in her day-to-day priorities, colleagues said.

Although sensitive, she didn’t give her clients false illusions. She educated them on the process and their options, framing the resolution of a case as the client’s jumping-off point into their new life, said Fran Fontana. If her clients were baffled by complex finances, for example, she would take time out to help explain.

"I don’t think that her clients ever walked away from their case not being prepared to deal with the next phase of their lives," said Fontana.

Quade had a sharp legal mind, and rooted her arguments in the law. Her approach was to look at a case from many different angles.

"She was so hardworking and dedicated, and so into teaching and mentoring young lawyers," said Fran Fontana. "I just received an e-mail from a magistrate who remarked on what a fabulous person she was. People who had had cases against her were the first to line up when she began mediating."

Quade began teaching a Continuing Legal Education-approved course in 1995. The course grew into an entire seminar that pulled in the best family law attorneys as speakers.

"She brought in a vibrant energy. You knew when she was here," said Julie Revers, CLE staff member. "It wasn’t just a profession; it was her life, intertwined and infused with passion."

Revers said that sometimes the staff wondered how long the seminar actually was at the end of the day, because students stuck around, energized and excited to learn more.

If attendees agreed to take on a family law case pro bono, Quade negotiated a deal for reduced tuition from the host of the seminar, the Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Inc. For her efforts, CLE’s board of directors presented her the Doyle Award for outstanding contributions to the legal community in 2006.

"Barb would sit in on the lectures and correct something if she knew otherwise. She’d tell speakers, "give them this example" or "give them that example," said Fontana.

A long list of family members, friends and colleagues celebrate her life and achievements, and mourn her passing. She loved cooking, gardening and travel. She also had a great sense of humor. In addition to her work on the CLE Family Law seminars and for MVL, Quade also volunteered at LawLine 9, with homeless people, and to fellow Windsor residents affected by the tornado last year.

She is survived by her beloved husband, Chris, and their two sons, Alex and Daniel; sisters Patricia and her husband Randy Hocking; Ruth and David Mamich, and Catherine Quade; brothers Wade, John, Kurt and Skip and their families, and 13 nieces and nephews and three great nephews.

Services were Dec. 3 at the St. Philip Lutheran Church in Littleton, where Quade taught confirmation classes. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Denver Bar Foundation for Metro Volunteer Lawyers, 1900 Grant St., Suite 900, Denver, CO 80203.

Barristers Benefit Ball Tribute

Barbara C. Quade cared deeply about the DBA's Metro Volunteer Lawyers, committing much time and resources to the pro bono nonprofit. A special part of this year's Barristers Benefit Ball on April 24 will honor Quade. Get your tickets today! Call (303) 860-1115.

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