Natalia Lopez-Whitaker is Partner of Nachlis | Cohade | Lopez-Whitaker, LLP. Natalia focuses her practice on all aspects of family law, but particularly through alternative dispute resolution processes, such as Mediation, Collaborative Practice, and settlement negotiations. Early in her career, she litigated several high conflict custody cases, including international relocation cases and Hague cases. She has exclusively practiced family law for over 12 years dealing with all aspects of family law matters, including but not limited to, premarital agreements, post marital agreements, cohabitation agreements, divorce, parentage, child support and child custody issues.
Natalia has attended several training courses with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), such as their Trial Practicum, completed two mentoring programs, attended their Associates Institute in Chicago where she was also trained in the Harvard School of Negotiation. In 2012, she completed her mediation training through The Center of Understanding in Conflict (CUC). She has furthered her mediation training through CUC and later became a board member. Towards the end of 2015, Natalia inspired a program confronting issues of race and racism in Family Law through the CUC, using restorative practices and the understanding-based model to resolve conflict. She is now one of CUC’s teachers on this very important issue.
Natalia entered Golden Gate University School of Law with a focus on Native Law and Juvenile Justice. Her mentor during law school is the Honorable Abby Abinanti, presiding Chief Justice of the Yurok Tribe and retired Commissioner of the San Francisco Unified Family Court, who she continues to be close with. During law school she completed the Family Law Institute, interned with California Indian Legal Services, San Francisco Public Defenders Office in their Juvenile Division, and Alameda County Public Defender’s Office in their misdemeanor division.
Natalia grew up in a diverse working-class suburb of Los Angeles County. She was raised by her Mexican mother, her maternal grandparents and her stepfather, who adopted her at the age of 4 years old. At 18 years old she left home to attend San Francisco State University where she double majored in Raza Studies and International Relations. She is the first woman in her family to attend a 4-year University and first and only in her family to go to law school and become an attorney. After graduating from SFSU in 2000, Natalia and her spouse moved to Oakland, where she continues to reside with their three children.
Natalia wants her clients to know that becoming a Family Law Attorney & Mediator has enabled her to align her core values of fairness and justice with the work that she loves to do, which is to help families get through what could be a difficult transition in life. These values come from her experience as a bi-racial woman and as a child of divorce; and therefore, she intimately understands the complexities of families separating. During this second part of her career, she is also working towards bringing more awareness around the lack of racial and cultural diversity among the professionals in the practice of family law, which disproportionately and negatively impacts Black, Indigenous and other communities of color in addressing their family conflict.