Abby Brown recently joined Brave Conversations LLC as an adjunct facilitator and mediator. With a decade of experience in water and natural resource law, and almost two decades of experience working collaboratively with diverse groups and individuals in educational and legal settings, Abby’s skill set positions her to help clients approach their conflicts with curiosity, integrity, and collaboration. She strives to help clients recognize the vast potential for opportunity in conflict, rather than viewing that conflict as a roadblock.
Abby’s career has been built around a passion to remove barriers and build capacity for diverse groups and individuals to access resources vital to improving their lives. After a decade of trial work in water and real property law throughout Montana, Abby is shifting her career to focus on conflict resolution and prevention. As a water attorney, Abby is proud to have resolved more cases through agreement than she took to trial. Water is a finite resource; water users have long-term relationships that often began prior to the conflict and continue long after the court cases ends. Building client capacity by investing in the people, encouraging collaborative communication, and designing flexible agreements in complex water cases deepens understanding between conflicted parties that ultimately promotes a more sustainable resolution.
Prior to earning her J.D. from University of Montana School of Law, Abby also earned a B.S. in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and a Master’s of Arts focused on cross-cultural conflict resolution from the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Between undergraduate and graduate school, Abby served 27 months in the United States Peace Corps, living and working as a teacher and community educator in a rural village in Malawi, East Africa. It was in Malawi that Abby developed a deep appreciation for, and interest in, the fundamental and complex relationship between water use and a community’s health and food security. Unbeknownst to her at the time, Malawi is also where Abby began her career as a conflict resolution and prevention professional.
Abby has studied and worked in the fields of mediation and facilitation in numerous capacities over the last two decades. However, her background in natural resources law, intercultural work, and social policy makes her particularly well-suited to working with clients who are experiencing conflicts over water or other natural resources, regardless of whether the conflicts are between individuals, agencies, local government entities, or tribal governments, or some combination thereof!
Ever the student, Abby is currently pursuing her L.L.M. in Water and Environmental Law through an online program at McGeorge Law School in Sacramento, California. She will complete the program in December 2021 with a focus on international water diplomacy. Taking advantage of the emergence of virtual trainings being offer as a result of the global pandemic, Abby makes time to attend conflict resolution trainings at least quarterly, having completed transformative mediation and conflict facilitator trainings in 2020.
Abby still maintains a legal practice through her law firm, ARB Law Group. Outside of her career, Abby, her husband Collin, and their two young sons, enjoy the great outdoor life Montana offers, especially fly-fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, and hiking with the family dogs. Abby is also a certified yoga instructor who finds space through a personal yoga-inspired and mindfulness practice and enjoys teaching yoga-inspired movement and mindfulness classes in local schools.