Robert E. Crane
"I can think of no greater compliment as an attorney than to be asked by other attorneys to help them settle a dispute."
After graduating from law school at the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Crane served as a law clerk to the United States District Court Judge, Honorable Richard P. Matsch. Mr. Crane then worked as an associate in a Denver litigation firm for two years before relocating with his family to Durango in 1980. In his early years of practice in Durango, Mr. Crane had a true general practice including all varieties of transactional and litigation matters, but focusing on civil trial work in state and federal courts. Over time, his practice evolved into civil litigation and advising clients on business matters. Today, Mr. Crane is of counsel to the firm and his practice is limited to providing alternative dispute resolution services, primarily conducting settlement conferences.
Mr. Crane’s first exposure to alternative dispute resolution services was as a litigator representing clients in civil proceedings, including arbitrations. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Crane was instrumental in helping the Southwest Colorado Bar Association establish a volunteer mediation program in which members of the bar volunteered their services to the local court so that small claims court civil cases are mediated at no cost to the litigants. That program has been very successful for both the parties and the court and is still in existence today.
In 1997, Mr. Crane was first asked to conduct a settlement conference in a pending civil matter. The case settled, somewhat to the surprise of the parties and attorneys. Thereafter, Mr. Crane received other requests to conduct settlement conferences in civil disputes, and he conducted hundreds of settlement conferences as an adjunct to his regular practice. His current practice is limited to conducting settlement conferences and arbitrations, mostly in Southwest Colorado, including Durango, Telluride, Cortez, Pagosa Springs and Montrose, with the occasional request that he travel to Denver, Grand Junction, New Mexico or other locales. Mr. Crane’s problem-solving skills, broad litigation background and history of representing both plaintiffs and defendants in many types of civil cases helped him to become a very successful mediator in settlement conferences.
Mr. Crane’s experience with settlement conferences covers a broad spectrum of civil litigation. Examples of cases for which he has conducted settlement conferences include:
Construction disputes for houses and commercial properties, including multimillion dollar and multiparty claims with counterclaims, cross claims and third party complaints, as well as many smaller actions arising from construction and real estate disputes
Personal injury and property damage actions, including wrongful death and defamation claims, arising out of motor vehicle accidents, premises liability claims, product liability claims, allegations of medical malpractice, dram shop actions and oil field accidents, and including resolution of subrogation claims and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims
Professional liability claims arising from claims of legal malpractice and medical malpractice; claims against real estate brokers and agents; claims against surveyors, engineers, geophysicists, architects and landscapers; and claims by professionals for fees or commissions
Real estate disputes, including claims related to property lines, the use and location of easements, alleged breaches of purchase and sale agreements with related fraud claims, disputes between co-owners or real property, and disputes related to allegations concerning covenants and deed restrictions
Claims involving governmental entities as parties based on land use planning decisions and condemnation, as well as tort and contract claims involving governmental entities
Business disputes arising from contract claims, claims of misrepresentation, disagreements between co-owners of a business or business entity, and disputed claims to ownership in a business
Disputes between employers and employees, including issues related to independent contractors, and including claims of sexual harassment and discrimination
Trust and probate disputes, including procedural aspects of trust and probate administration
Disputes between insurers and insureds which have arisen either as a separate action or as a part of underlying litigation in which an insurer has agreed to defend under a reservation of rights or declined to defend, in addition to claims as to amounts due under various types of policies
Mr. Crane has also served as an arbitrator in disputes between contractors and property owners, in contract disputes and in personal injury cases, including uninsured/underinsured motorist cases.
Professional and Community Activities
Since returning to Durango in 1980, Mr. Crane has been actively involved in both the legal community and the community as a whole. Mr. Crane was president of the Southwest Colorado Bar Association, and has been honored to receive that Bar Association’s Professionalism Award and has received the Pro Bono Services Award twice (the second time in 2011). He has also received the Colorado Bar Association’s Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding public service to the legal profession and the community. Mr. Crane also served on the original Board of Directors for the Colorado Lawyers Trust Account Foundation (COLTAF), was a founding member and officer of the Four Corners Inns of Court, was the founder and has been the moderator and a presenter (on several occasions) at Law in the Trenches (a legal seminar presented annually by the Southwest Colorado Bar Association), provided CLE programs related to settlement conferences and other topics, and served on several grievance panels for hearings involving grievances filed against attorneys. Mr. Crane was an instructor of business law at Fort Lewis College, a presenter at the Small Business Administration seminar on choice of entity, and served as an advisor to the legal aid coordinator for Southwest Colorado.
Mr. Crane served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Durango 9R School District (two years as president) and was honored by being named as a member of the All State School Board. He was a founding member of the Four Corners Better Business Bureau; a member of the Board of Directors of the Four Corners Sheltered Workshop, an entity dedicated to providing employment for disabled citizens (two years as president); a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Volunteers of America Southwest Safehouse, an entity providing shelter and support primarily to battered women and children (two years as president); a member of the Board of Directors for Volunteers of America, Colorado; and a member of the Board of Directors for the Fort Lewis College Alumni Association. He has been a guest speaker on several occasions at Fort Lewis College, Pueblo Community College and Durango High School, and he developed and taught an independent study program for elementary school students celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States Constitution. In addition, Mr. Crane was a volunteer coach for youth basketball and youth soccer for many years.
University of Notre Dame, Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, 1977
University of Chicago, Master of Arts, International Relations 1974
Fort Lewis College, Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, 1973
1977, Colorado and U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
1979, U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit
Mr. Crane’s interests include bicycling (mostly on a tandem with his wife of many years), hiking, the occasional triathlon, travelling, reading (mostly history) and spending time with his three children and his grandchildren.