Founding Attorney and Shareholder
Sheila Carrigan is an experienced trial attorney who has tried hundreds of cases to the court and to juries. In fact, she has been steeped in trial law for her entire life. Raised in Boulder, Colorado, Ms. Carrigan began her legal career even before attending law school, working the summer sessions of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) at the University of Colorado School of Law. She then attended Santa Clara University where she was a member of the academic history honor society and received a B.A. in History, before returning home to pursue a law degree at the University of Colorado.
Law school honors
At CU Law, Ms. Carrigan was active in many leadership roles, including serving as her school’s representative to the student division of the American Bar Association, as a class officer, and working to reinstate CU Law’s participation in a national mock trial competition. In 1980, Ms. Carrigan was honored to be elected as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in New York City, which fueled her ambition to work in public service. She then completed a highly sought after internship at the United States Department of Justice, during which she helped the U.S. Attorney’s Office create a trial training program for its newly hired prosecutors. During her last year of law school Ms. Carrigan worked at a clerk for the 18th Judicial District DA’s Office under District Attorney Robert Gallagher.
Deputy District Attorney
Upon graduation from law school and bar passage, Ms. Carrigan was hired as a deputy district attorney. She was the lead deputy in an Arapahoe County satellite office, one of only three deputy DAs in Douglas County, and was the lead deputy for Elbert County. She prosecuted felony cases, spent a significant amount of time in the juvenile unit of the prosecutor’s office, and gained substantial knowledge in the dynamics of sexual assault and domestic violence. Ms. Carrigan was one of the instructors at the first Colorado class designed to teach prosecutors how to prosecute domestic violence cases when a victim recants. She also coached a mock trial team at Montbello High School in Denver during her time in the District Attorney’s office.
Cooper & Kelley, P.C.
Ms. Carrigan then moved to Cooper & Kelley, P.C., a fifteen-member Denver law firm defending auto accident claims, building liability claims, employment claims, and negligence claims against physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, attorneys, and other professionals. After several years as an associate, Ms. Carrigan became a shareholder at the firm. It was during this time that Ms. Carrigan developed expertise in complex litigation, deposition techniques, and a broad variety of subjects necessary to an understand the subject matter of each case. While at Cooper & Kelley, Ms. Carrigan was active as a member of the Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors, the board of the YWCA of Boulder Valley, a founding member and president of the Penfield Tate II American lnn of Court, a member of the board of directors of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, and a member and chairperson of the University of Colorado Law Alumni Board.
Boulder Municipal Court Judge
Ms. Carrigan was honored to be appointed as the presiding judge of the Boulder Municipal Court, over approximately 130 other candidates. During her seven years on the bench she presided over hundreds of arraignments and trials, including jury trials. Ms. Carrigan’s philosophy was that the municipal court, which rules on ordinance violations including traffic infractions, animal cases, alcohol related incidents, and other offenses which upset a sense of community, should be dealt with in an educational manner which supports the offender gaining an understanding of the consequences of his or her actions, and fosters changes of behavior. Ms. Carrigan brought the court forward by making it a “court of record” for the first time in its history. She also established a Teen Court for high school students to act as peer jurors in sentencing for minor offenses, and established a program of Restorative Justice in the court. Ms. Carrigan served on the board and as president of the Colorado Municipal Judge’s Association, and was also part of the advisory board which helped reform Attention Homes, one of Boulder’s oldest non-profits. During this time she also served on the advisory board for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and as a moderator on several panels at the Conference of World Affairs at CU. Ms. Carrigan also established the “Carrigan Cup,” an award for a top CU Law team in a mock trial competition. This competition was envisioned by Ms. Carrigan to honor her father, retired CU professor, Colorado Supreme Court Justice, and Federal District Judge for the District of Colorado, Jim R. Carrigan. Many other family members, the judge’s law clerks, and friends helped fund the competition. While on the bench, Ms. Carrigan continued to teach at NITA, and served as an instructor at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. She also completed many hours of intensive training in communication skills, leadership, and other professional people skills.
Carrigan Law, LLC
Following her work as a judge, Ms. Carrigan decided to try something new and spent several years as a highly successful residential real estate agent. But her love of the law and desire to help people drew her back into practice. Ms. Carrigan formed Carrigan Law, LLC, and her practice now focuses on all legal matters related to families. She is a certified mediator and conducts mediations and arbitrations. She represents both men and women in dissolution of marriage, legal separation, and child custody cases. She has been appointed by local courts as a parenting coordinator and decision-maker in high conflict post-decree cases, and is also appointed as a guardian ad litem to make recommendations to the court in a child’s or disabled party’s best interest in probate cases and dissolution of marriage cases.
Ms. Carrigan brings her quick intelligence, genuine caring nature, sharp negotiation and litigation skills, and tenacious desire to see her client’s needs met to every case she handles. She listens to what her client wants and is always supportive of the least costly options when appropriate. However, if an opposing party refuses to obey the rules of court, is abusive, or does not act in the children’s best interest, Ms. Carrigan has the litigation skills necessary to efficiently get the court’s attention.