Frances Ross Nolan

“No one should surrender control of their life to a judge unless they are unable to find a way to resolve their dispute on their own. There are cases where a judge needs to be the one to make the decision. It’s great to have that option. The rest of the time I’m trying to use my skill and influence to help people come to that decision on their own. I help them to evaluate what’s reasonable, what’s fair, and what’s most important to them.” — Frances Nolan

Frances is not your typical attorney. She was inspired to become a lawyer by the struggles of her parents and numerous friends for whom the divorce process was especially challenging.  Having studied psychology and social science in college, divorce law provided the perfect marriage of her educational experiences with the opportunity to make a personal difference in the lives of others.

Raised in Birmingham most of her life, Frances is the daughter of an Episcopal priest and a theological educator.  The youngest of four children whose parents divorced after 25 years of marriage, Frances has personal insight about the experience of divorce from a child’s perspective.  The law is a second career for Frances; she went back to law school after more than twenty years of working in sales and management, and after spending several years as a full-time mom.  Divorce law provided the perfect marriage of her personal experiences, her educational background, and her longing to help people through challenging times. Frances brings new meaning to the term, “counselor at law.”

After practicing family law at The Crittenden Firm, PC for eight years, she and colleague Leigh Byers co-founded Nolan Byers, PC.  Together, they designed a boutique family law firm that is dedicated to empowering clients who face the stress inherent to divorce and other matrimonial law matters.

Frances works to understand each client’s goals and concerns and to educate them about options for achieving their desired outcomes. For some, the traditional court process provides the structure and security required. For others, private, out-of-court methods may be preferred.

Leader in Collaborative Divorce and Family Practice

Frances was instrumental in bringing Collaborative Divorce to Alabama. As a certified Collaborative lawyer, Frances co-founded and served as the inaugural President of Alabama’s first Collaborative Practice Group, Birmingham Collaborative Alliance (BCA).

Collaborative Divorce is a no-court, private and consensual process in which the parties are provided the support of an interdisciplinary team of professionals all trained to support them in the process of restructuring their families for life after divorce.  Collaborative Divorce is a forward-looking process that rather than assessing blame, is designed to empower its participants to create a durable plan for the future that maximizing the best outcomes for the whole family.

“The skills I’ve learned in my collaborative work are transferable to every case,” Frances says. “There’s a degree of empathy that I can have for clients as a result of my training to become a collaborative professional. It’s given me invaluable knowledge that I would not have had otherwise.”

Although dedicated to the advancement of alternative practices in dispute resolution, Frances is also trained in litigation. Her goal is to provide quality legal representation suitable for each client’s circumstances, goals and legal issues.

Frances is married to William G. Nolan (Bill), an attorney practicing in the area of Elder Law. They are the proud parents of one son, William G. Nolan, Jr. (Will), who is currently in medical school.

To contact Frances, email her at


  • Law School: Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, cum laude
  • Student Materials Editor, Cumberland Law Review


  • Certified Collaborative Lawyer
  • Lead Counsel Certified
  • SuperLawyers Rising Star

Bar Admissions

  • State of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court of Alabama, Middle District
  • Local courts, Jefferson and Shelby counties

Bar/Professional Activities

  • Cofounder and Inaugural President, Birmingham Collaborative Alliance
  • Member and Liaison for American Bar Association Sections of Dispute Resolution and Family Law.
  • Member and former chair, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, Family Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Advisory Council Member, Alternative Dispute Resolution section, Alabama State Bar Association
  • Member, Alabama Custodial Laws Revision Task Force
  • Member, Collaborative Law Act Committee, Alabama Law Institute
  • Official Observer, Uniform Law Commission’s Collaborative Law Act Committee
  • Member, International Academy of Collaborative Practitioners
  • Member, Family Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Member, Family Law Section, Alabama State Bar Association
  • Member, Family Law Section, Women Lawyers section, Birmingham Bar Association
  • Member, Birmingham Inn of Court

Community Service

  • Board Member, Oasis Counseling
  • Past President, Indian Springs School Alumni Council
  • Past Member, ex officio, Board of Directors, Indian Springs School
  • Member, Rotary Club of Shades Valley

Additional Educational Background

  • San Francisco State University
  • Indian Springs School