08/08/2016

CBA President's Message


Who Are Our 18,280 CBA Members?

Legal communities and bar associations develop great souls that are shaped by those who give them meaning.
—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor,
Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center dedication, May 2, 2013

Every year in September we publish the CBA’s Annual Report to present highlights and financials from the previous year. This year I also want to focus on our members, giving you a snapshot of who we are by gender, generation, geography, firm size, and CBA section participation.

68% of Active Colorado Attorneys
are Active CBA Members

The CBA has 18,280 total members. This figure includes non-lawyers, inactive attorneys, and attorneys outside of Colorado. The CBA has 14,921 in-state active members.

CBA Members’ Gender Diversity

Of these in-state active members, approximately 36% are women. This mirrors the gender makeup of all active attorneys practicing in Colorado,1 as well as the gender makeup of attorneys practicing nationwide.2 However, five years ago, in the 2010–11 academic year, about 47% of law school graduates across the country were women.3

Firm Size Diversity Throughout the State

Approximately 58% of all attorneys in private practice, including non-CBA members, are solo practitioners or work in small firms.4

5 Largest CBA Sections

The CBA has 29 sections, each focusing on a unique legal specialty.5 Roughly 10,000 CBA members are also members of a section. Wow! Sections are the primary way members engage with the CBA.

CBA Geographic Diversity

There are 27 local bar associations in Colorado. The above chart reflects CBA members with an in-state address and active status with the Supreme Court.
We have a camaraderie and collaboration among our 27 statewide bar associations that is unique. Many local bar associations in other states are highly competitive, and their working relationships at times have been described as “open warfare.” I often hear comments about our legal community from national speakers who visit Colorado and say things like, “Everyone is so nice, and the bar associations seem to get along with each other. It is not like this everywhere!”

The legal community in Colorado is special. But this is no surprise to us since Colorado consistently ranks among the happiest states in the United States,6 and Denver was recently named the best place to live by U.S. News and World Report.7

CBA Members’ Generational Diversity

We are at an inflection point in our profession.8 Technology is changing at warp speed. How legal services are being delivered is changing. Who is delivering legal services is changing. Law school applications are at a national low.9 Across the country, bar association membership numbers are not growing at previous rates and many are declining or remaining steady.10

The REFOCUS 20/20 strategic plan begins to position the CBA for the next 10, 15, and 20 years.11

Why is this so critical?

A snapshot of the generational breakdown of CBA members helps put this inflection point into perspective:

  • 61% of our members are over 45.
  • 39% of our members are over 55.
  • 17% of our members are under 35.

Let those numbers sink in for a moment.

The CBA executive council is hard at work refocusing on our strategic vision for the future.

The 21 members of the executive council bring to the table geographic diversity, generational diversity, fresh ideas, gender balance, specialty bar perspectives, local bar concerns, and institutional history.

In this issue, I am trying something new and introducing you to each executive council member. I invite you to spend a few minutes on the pages ahead meeting 19 of the 21 members who comprise the talented team helping to lead the CBA this year.12

Notes

1. Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, “2015 Annual Report” 57 (Apr. 2016), www.coloradosupremecourt.com/PDF/AboutUs/Annual%20Reports/2015%20Annual%20Report.pdf.

2. ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, “A Current Glance at Women in the Law” 4 (May 2016), www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/marketing/women/current_glance_statistics_may2016.authcheckdam.pdf.

3. Id.

4. Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, supra note 1 at 59–60.

5. See www.cobar.org/sections.

6. See, e.g., Herreria, “These are the 10 Happiest States in America,” The Huffington Post (Jan. 28, 2016), www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/happiest-states-in-america_us_56a820a1e4b0f6b7d5443866.

7. “U.S. News & World Report Launches the Best Places to Live Rankings,” U.S. News & World Report (Mar. 2, 2016), www.usnews.com/info/blogs/press-room/2016/03/02/us-news-launches-the-best-places-to-live-rankings.

8. Haskins, The Relevant Lawyer: Reimagining the Future of the Legal Profession (foreword by 2014–15 ABA President William Hubbard) (ABA Publishing, 2016).

9. Law School Admissions Council, End-of-year Summary, www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/lsac-volume-summary#.

10. ABA Division for Bar Services, State and Local Bar Membership Insights and Trends (Apr. 2014), www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/barservices/resourcepages/membership/membershipinsights_whitepaper.authcheckdam.pdf.

11. See Brown, “The CBA Strategic Plan: REFOCUS 20/20,” 45 The Colorado Lawyer 5 (June 2016), www.cobar.org/-em-The-Colorado-Lawyer-em/Details-Page/ArticleID/29/CBA-Presidents-Message-to-Members-The-CBA-Strategic-Plan-REFOCUS-20-20.

12. CBA Executive Director Patrick Flaherty and I were not included among the interviewees for this piece.

 


 

Meet the 2016–17 CBA Executive Council 


CBA Executive Council hard at work building community, making connections, and engaging inclusively.

________________________________________________

Ilene Bloom


1st J.D. Vice President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I lived in Chicago most of my life, until I made the decision to move to Denver 14 years ago to live near the mountains. It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I started my career in Chicago at Winston & Strawn and have worked at a variety of firms in Denver. I currently work as a consulting attorney in the Litigation and Trial Group at Sherman & Howard. I am excited to celebrate my 20th year of happily practicing law this year. I am a strong supporter of pro bono endeavors and have been actively involved with the Colorado Lawyers Committee Legal Night program, among other bar sponsored pro bono activities, including the Colorado Access to Justice Commission and the Denver Bar Association Access to Justice Committee. When I am not at the office, I try to spend as much time as possible outside, trail running in the mountains and exploring the world with my husband, 8-year-old son, and 6-year-old daughter.

How did you first get involved with the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

After I moved to Denver, I immediately joined the DBA Legal Services Committee, which proved to be a great experience because it provided me with the opportunity to do volunteer work that I find meaningful with like-minded people. My involvement with the bar associations has enriched my career in numerous valuable ways. First, it has provided me with so many opportunities to cultivate transferable leadership skills. Second, it has given me the opportunity to interact with many great lawyers from around the state. I have been inspired by so many people and their dedication to making our profession better. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with other lawyers without the stress and pressure than often comes with work-related matters.

What are your favorite things about being a lawyer?

Although I dislike conflict, I am a solution-oriented person, and I like the problem-solving aspect of being a lawyer, whether it is for a pro bono or paying client. I also appreciate the intellectual stimulation, and I love reading, which I get to do a lot of as a lawyer these days. It has been satisfying to be able to use all of my years of formal and informal education in a way that can help people. I truly appreciate the opportunity to effectively help poor people in our community using my law degree. Also, I need a lot of variety in my life, and being a lawyer provides a lot of new challenges.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I had the privilege of serving on the Executive Council during my 2011–12 term as DBA president, so I know what I am getting into, and I know how much the Executive Council can accomplish. I then stepped back a bit from my bar association involvement because my children were not yet in school full-time. Now that they are, I welcome the chance to get back in the thick of it. Also, there are several people joining the Executive Council that I have always wanted to work with, including our new president, Patricia Jarzobski, so the timing seemed perfect. I am looking forward to learning from everyone and tackling whatever important issues come our way. It’s going to be a great year.

Rebecca Briggs


4th J.D. Vice President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am originally from Virginia but moved to Colorado to work in the Public Defender’s Office. I now specialize almost entirely in criminal defense in my private practice. On the side, I play roller derby as a jammer for the Pikes Peak Derby Dames.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I first got involved in the bar association when one of my supervisors in Pueblo suggested I attend a bar luncheon. I love the team element that the organization brings to the practice of law and how it fosters a sense of togetherness.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

I love having a profession that mingles intellectual challenges with working toward effectuating positive change.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I would like to contribute to the profession in a more symbolic and serious way. Pueblo is a spectacular community, and I would love to see it well represented at the state level.

James Briscoe


6th J.D. Vice President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am a Colorado native, married to another Colorado native, Judy, for 52 years and have three children. A graduate of Western State College and the University of Colorado School of Law, I began practicing law in Denver in 1969 and moved to Paonia in Delta County in 1973. My partnership varied in size from two to five attorneys over the years. I represented the Town of Paonia for 40 years and the Town of Hotchkiss for 36 years as their contract municipal attorney. I also maintained a private practice focusing on real estate, water, contracts, wills, trusts, and estates. I retired at the start of 2014 but have remained a member of the CBA for the purpose of representing the Delta County Bar Association.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I first became active in the CBA when my local bar association was experiencing a range of financial and engagement-related difficulties. Over the years, the CBA has provided assistance to the outlying bar associations that have experienced similar problems with pro bono programs. As I became more acquainted and involved with the CBA, I also became more supportive of it because of the many benefits that it offers. The CBA has been a great help and resource during my professional life.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

I especially enjoyed the feeling of helping people through difficult times or assisting them in avoiding those difficult times. Since retiring, the thing I have missed most is my interaction with clients and the involvement I had with residents of the towns I represented, as well as the general population of Delta County. I find that I now overextend myself by volunteering to help groups, clubs, special districts, and so forth with more projects than I really have time for, probably because I wasn’t able to serve my community as much as I would have liked when I was practicing law.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

It is my pleasure to again have the opportunity to serve on the Executive Council for this coming year because of the benefits now provided by the CBA, the interaction with other attorneys who are members of the Board of Governors, the ongoing need for attention to the needs of attorneys, the discussion about how the practice of law is changing, and the impact the law has on society.

Loren Brown


CBA Immediate Past President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am a shareholder with Ciancio Ciancio Brown in Broomfield. My practice focuses on plaintiff’s personal injury and wrongful death, criminal defense, civil litigation, and liquor licensing. I have been with the same firm since working as a law clerk in law school. I am a Colorado native. When not working or volunteering for bar association activities, I enjoy outdoor activities with my wife and three children.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I joined the bar association while a law student at the University of Denver. From the very beginning, the bar association has enriched my career. As a law student, I looked forward to receiving The Colorado Lawyer every month. As I turned the pages, I was inspired to see the work I would be doing in the future and the community I would be involved in. Seeing this every month motivated me to work harder so that I could be a part of our great profession. Since graduating from law school, the benefits of being involved in the bar have brought me to where I am today. Some of my closest friendships would not have been possible without the bar. It has given me the balance I need in my career. The bar has also provided a wealth of resources that I use every day in my practice to help make me a better lawyer. I have also had the opportunity to volunteer on many great projects that have helped improve the justice system and to assist many people in need. Finally, as president, I became even more enmeshed in our profession. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to serve the bar and help shape the profession for the future.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

The best part about being a lawyer is being able to help people solve their problems. In most of my cases, my clients come to me in crisis. They are facing a problem that they never thought they would have to face. I love being able to take on their problems and help them get through what are often very difficult times.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I will serve on the Executive Council as immediate past president. I am very excited about this role because I will be able to share my experiences and help support Patricia Jarzobski in her role as president. I will also get to see some of the projects that I worked on continue to grow and thrive. This is an exciting time for the CBA. I am looking forward to all of the great things that Patricia and the rest of the CBA will accomplish this year.

Samuel Cheris


2nd J.D. Vice President

What are some of your goals while on the CBA Executive Council?

During my term on the Executive Council, I would like to see how we can help increase the provision of legal services to small businesses that cannot afford to hire competent transactional counsel. I think we can help people prosper by providing help with entity formation and contract drafting to reduce their risks, especially when they must deal with large entities as vendors, landlords, or customers.

Nancy Cohen


DBA President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I have been a trial lawyer for more than 30 years, practicing law in several law firms and government. I was the chief deputy regulation counsel for the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. I am currently a partner in the Denver office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith. My husband, Jim, who is not a lawyer and who keeps me grounded, and I like all kinds of outdoor activities—skiing, rafting, biking, and hiking. We have climbed all of the fourteeners in Colorado. We love to travel with our children and learn about different cultures.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

My first experience with the CBA was serving on the Ethics Committee. I was a two-year associate when Phil Figa appointed me. I liked the camaraderie, the intellectual issues, and the committee members’ acceptance of different points of view. I have served on various CBA committees, including the Ethics Committee and the Professional Liability Committee. The bar gives me the opportunity to meet lawyers who have different practices and philosophies about the practice of law. I cherish the relationships I have made over the years.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

One of the many things I like about practicing law, whether I am representing a lawyer, doctor, or a company on a business matter, is that I work with interesting people in trying to resolve problems. My job is never boring because I am constantly learning about different areas of the law, medicine, or a business.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

As DBA president, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to sit on the Executive Council. I look forward to working with Patricia Jarzobski and others to help implement the strategic plan.

Jake Eisenstein


CBA Young Lawyers Division Chair

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I first became involved in the CBA per the advice of my mentor. He told me how critical it was and that one of his regrets was not becoming involved sooner. Being a member of the bar has definitely enriched my career. I have been fortunate to have met great people and to have grown as a leader and a lawyer.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

My favorite thing about being a lawyer is that I’m constantly learning and tackling new challenges. I feel like I’m always pushing and expanding my limits.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I’ll get to be a part of, and learn from, a fantastic group of professionals who I admire and respect. I’m looking forward doing my part to move the CBA forward into the future.

Richard Gast


CBA President-Elect

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I’m a fourth-generation Colorado lawyer. I was born in Pueblo, spent most of my childhood in Denver, headed out to Stanford for undergrad, came back to Colorado for law school at the University of Colorado, and then moved to Fort Collins, where I have practiced real estate, business, and banking law for the past 35 years. I’ve been married to my wife, Bev, for those same 35 years. We have two sons, an equal number of daughters-in-law, and even a young grandson.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

The CBA and I are longtime friends. My first involvement with the bar came early on when I joined the Young Lawyers Division Executive Council back in the mid-1980s. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to touch on a wide variety of other CBA facets, including serving on the Joint Management Committee, the Board of Governors, the Executive Council, and the Real Estate Section Council. I also participated in COBALT. The most rewarding aspect of bar service has been the wonderful relationships formed over the years with other lawyers and the CBA staff.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

My favorite part of lawyering is the opportunity to help people and craft solutions to problems.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I look forward to serving with a remarkably talented group of council members and beginning the process of implementing the CBA’s thoughtfully drafted strategic plan (REFOCUS 20/20).

Mary Jo Gross


Treasurer

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am retiring from the practice of law after 36 years—18 years with a law firm and 18 years in-house. I am not retiring from bar association activities, DU Law activities, or my other volunteer activities; it’s business as usual on that front. I am looking forward to spending more time with my partner of seven years, Steve Lissner, and my sister, Janet Gross.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

Fairfield and Woods expected its attorneys to be involved in the bar, and I took it to heart. I have met fabulous friends and colleagues through participation in the bar and have had the opportunity to travel and participate in worthwhile and meaningful projects. I just can’t imagine life without the people who make "the bar" what it is.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

Being a problem-solver. Satisfaction comes to the forefront when I can help someone who doesn’t know how to solve a problem or address an issue. It makes me feel like I am a good person.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I said "yes" to serving as CBA treasurer, not realizing all it entailed. But, as always, it is wonderful to work with colleagues and meet new people. I am looking forward to working with the incredible group of people who are implementing changes and introducing the bar to attorneys who see its value and who will take the association into the future.

Steven Hahn


Section Representative

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I’m a third-generation DU law school graduate and the father of three boys, and have been practicing law for 27 years. I clerked for the Honorable Gaspar Perricone in Jefferson County and worked for David J. Hah for 17 years before joining the Office of the City Attorney of the City and County of Denver, where I support various city agencies, including the library and technology services. I have been teaching yoga since 2013.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I first became involved in the bar association as a volunteer attorney for the Thursday Night Bar (now Metro Volunteer Lawyers) in 1991. I joined their Board of Directors in 1996 and served there for 16 years. My participation in MVL expanded my understanding of how lawyering can positively impact people’s lives. The bar has been a positive professional network for interacting with other lawyers in diverse practices.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

Providing guidance, resolving complex problems, and being intellectually challenged. It is a fortunate way to earn a living. If I had to make a living with power tools, I’m sure I would be missing fingers.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I want to assist with the implementation of the 20/20 strategic plan, which will help reshape the bar well into the future.

Courtney Holm


7th J.D. Vice President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am a Colorado native currently residing minutes from my hometown in the Vail Valley. Although I was a collegiate swimmer, while attending DU law school, I played ice hockey for the DU Women’s Club team. I started with a small law firm in Vail while still in law school and in 2006 founded a firm with another colleague. I love to ski, snowboard, golf, bike, fish, scuba dive, surf, and hike. Traveling across the globe to gain insight into other cultures, customs, and ideas is especially enjoyable. My general practice firm has evolved over the last several years to serve the members of the mountain communities. I have predominantly practiced criminal defense, family law, and civil litigation, but have also practiced in several other areas. In recent years, I have directed more of my practice to mediation and am delighted when I can repackage the communication style of parties so that they actually hear the other party and reach meaningful resolution. I am a member of the Colorado Bar Foundation, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, and the Continental Divide Bar Association. I also serve on the 5th J.D. Access to Justice Committee and donate time to Legal Aid as often as possible.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

While I have been a member of the CBA since graduating from law school, my involvement increased dramatically in 2009 when I agreed to replace a local bar board member stepping down from the Continental Divide Bar Association, and I served as vice president. Shortly thereafter, I served as president of the Continental Divide Bar Association for several years from 2010 forward and in 2013, with the unparalleled help of John Baker, initiated the CBA mentor–mentee program to assist those in the 5th J.D. with a structured mentoring experience to improve the development of lawyers in the area. I have always worked to increase the camaraderie and informational access to those in more remote places. I have truly valued the relationships, the inspiration, and the experiences I have gained through those I have encountered while serving. The collaboration with those involved in the bar ignites new ideas for large-scale and personal concepts. I feel that the ability to have contact with other lawyers in a non-adversarial setting improves the judicial system as a whole. Collaborating with others serving a higher organization has a positive impact on the individual.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

Ever since that day in 7th grade when the judge spoke to our class, I have been passionate about the law. I knew I wanted to try to help those in my community and focused my sights on the law. The most rewarding part of being a lawyer is helping someone through a difficult time. I focus a great deal of my practice on low-cost and pro bono representation for those who might not otherwise have representation. Now my passion has come full circle, and when I go speak to students, I know that there are little sparks flying that get that next generation excited about the law.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I met Patricia Jarzobski several years ago when coordinating a joint meeting between the Continental Divide Bar Association and the Colorado Women’s Bar Association. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her fresh outlook on changing the outdated institutions resonated with me. If she thought I had tools to offer in that regard, then I am at her disposal. Her charisma helped rekindle my interest to increase the services available to mountain attorneys and indirectly led to a new mountain chapter of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association—an opportunity for those on top of the divide to have access to programs and resources on the Front Range and improve local camaraderie. I hope to assist in increasing the connection between the Front Range and Western Slope members of the CBA. Serving on the Executive Council is an opportunity to bring to light the issues facing lawyers outside of the Front Range and to enhance the experience of those smaller and solo firms throughout the state. Technology is a tool that can deliver the feeling of a close-knit community across a great expanse. Now is a perfect time to retool and redirect how the bar works for its members.

Virjinia Koultchitzka


Executive Council Member at Large

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am a member of Alpern Myers Stuart LLC. My practice includes estate planning and probate, corporate formation and organization, business and commercial law, contract law, real estate law, and general practice. I grew up in a third-world country and was brought up with the idea of the United States being a dream world—a world of freedom, success, and opportunities. I grew up being taught at school that this was a dream I could not have. However, with the support of my parents, at the age of 18, I was the first person in my high school to be accepted at several colleges in the United States. I packed a suitcase and headed toward the dream with little money and no family or friends to join me in my adventure. I visit my family in Bulgaria every year and stay active in supporting nonprofit Bulgarian organizations that provide homeless children with food, medicine, clothes, shoes, and school supplies through coordination with the Government Center for Social Integration and the Red Cross.

How did you first get involved in the CBA, and how has it enriched your career?

Not getting involved in the CBA was never an option. I have been in private practice for 10 years now, and I have been involved in the bar association for the past 11 years in various roles and capacities. Such involvement was instilled in me by the attorneys who mentored me during my law school years. I was especially inspired by my colleague, friend, and mentor attorney, Matthew J. Werner, who made certain that as a newbie to Colorado Springs, I met as many attorneys and judges as possible and chaired as many CBA-related committees and sections as possible, and by my colleague, friend, and mentor attorney, Howard J. Alpern, who made certain my network of colleagues and clients expanded rapidly by using the tools and opportunities that the bar association offered.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

I love being a lawyer because it allows me to help people and make a difference in their lives; often, this profession gives me the opportunity to meet and work with amazing people, some of whom have become good friends over time. There is something so gratifying about receiving a hug from a client—a hug that says "thank you" a thousand times over.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

When Loren Brown asked me to join the Executive Council, I said "yes" because the invitation came from a trusted colleague and friend. Moreover, accepting such a position meant helping to lead and diversify an organization that I care about. In addition, I could put my COBALT skills to use. With a membership organization like ours, leadership is always a fun challenge that you share with other colleagues who have similar aspirations. The conversations brim with great ideas about how to sustain our bar association and its membership. I look forward to another year of budget planning and review to assure that the CBA’s mission continues.

Tyler Murray


Section Representative

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am a senior associate with the Gantenbein Law Firm, where I practice in the areas of tax, business, and estates. When I am not at the office, I am busy brewing beer and preparing for my wedding this October.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I became involved with the bar association while clerking for a member of the Tax Section Executive Council in 2010. He encouraged my attendance at the Executive Council meetings, and I have been attending and volunteering ever since. Also, I just finished my term as chair of the Tax Section.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

As a tax attorney, the most satisfying part of my practice is the relief my clients feel when I am able to handle the IRS and Colorado Department of Revenue on their behalf. To most people, these organizations are a menacing force and source of anxiety. I enjoy being able to help them relax and get back to living their life.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I agreed to join the CBA Executive Council to continue to make and promote the bar association as a crucial resource for the members. The CBA is constantly doing great things for the members, as well as the community at large, and I wish to be a part of it.

Hon. Brandi Lynn Nieto


3rd J.D. Vice President

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am currently the presiding municipal court judge in Greeley and was appointed in 2012. Prior to that, I worked in private practice, focusing on domestic relations, criminal, and general civil practice. I served as a deputy district attorney for the 19th J.D. from 2005 through 2010, prosecuting all classes of cases and spending the most time focusing on domestic violence. During that period, I was named Weld County Prosecutor of the Year and, in 2009, I received the Outstanding GLBT Ally of the Year for successfully prosecuting the first bias-motivated crime with a transgender victim at trial. I have served on a number of boards for nonprofits in the Weld County community and as president of my local bar. I have also been a board member of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and a member of many of the specialty bars. I am married to Matthew Pring of Houtchens, Greenfield and Sedlak. We are expecting our first child in December.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I joined the bar after leaving the metro area to stay in touch with what was happening in the broader legal community. My bar association membership has proved to be the most valuable investment I have ever made. I have learned many skills through CLEs and have met a wonderful array of people through social functions. I have also become a better leader through my participation in COBALT last year. I feel more in touch with all areas of the law and all the areas in the state by reading The Colorado Lawyer.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

The best part of my job is helping the people who come before me—something I feel the bar association does for all of its members.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I am excited about the direction the CBA is taking with the new strategic plan and hope to bring that excitement to lawyers in Northern Colorado!

Vincent Rahaman


5th J.D. Vice President

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

Around 2000, I was nominated to serve on the El Paso County Bar Association Board as a trustee. I have held various bar association leadership roles since. It has enriched my career because I get to mingle with people who are a lot smarter and better looking than I could ever hope to be.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

I do a lot of dissolution of marriage work. It gives me great satisfaction to help a client move on to a new chapter in his or her life.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I figure it is a good first step toward my ultimate goal—President of the United States of Ame . . . . Oh wait, I wasn’t born in this country, so strike that. Okay, Secretary of State to the United States of America!

Bonnie Schriner


Section Representative

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

Mediation, arbitration, collaborative law, and legal counseling are the mainstays of my law practice. Leadership roles arose first in college (although I did play Santa Claus at age 8 in a Girl Scout Christmas pageant largely because I knew how to field whistle really loudly). I’m a team player for whom complacency was never attractive nor was commitment to the status quo. As for my passions outside the law, I am a search and rescue canine handler and a canine evaluator for human remains detection. We were onboard for 9/11 and deployed to Hurricane Katrina and Greensburg Kansas.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

The highest and best use of my law degree is when I can help family or friends or a client muscle through a tough legal time. Peace is a rare commodity in our society, and any assistance in providing a medium for peace is a gift I want to share.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

A member of the CBA since being sworn in as an attorney and a public defender, I served on the CBA Ethics and Legal Fee Arbitration committees. In 1995, I was elected to the Family Law Section Executive Council and eventually became chair of the section in 2005. Seeing the inner workings of the CBA and being given a chance to work with all of the bright minds on the leadership teams made volunteering for this job a no-brainer.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

These are times of growth and change for the CBA as the refocus turns to recruitment/retention/inclusivity and all of the associated challenges to create cultural change. The CBA’s ability to remain relevant and grow value for its membership are front-and-center today. It is an honor to be part of this game-changing future for our legal community.

Mario Trimble


Executive Council Member at Large

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am a partner in the public finance department of Kutak Rock’s Denver office, where I also chair the firm’s recruitment committee. In addition to my involvement in the CBA, I serve as treasurer for the Center for Legal Inclusiveness and am active in the Sam Cary Bar Association. I am a lucky husband, as well as a proud father of two wonderful children.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I have taken advantage of the CBA’s CLE offerings for years and have been an avid reader of The Colorado Lawyer. Being appointed to represent the Sam Cary Bar Association on the CBA Board of Governors really exposed me to the diversity of talent and perspectives from all corners of the state represented by my fellow governors.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

As a public finance attorney, I help build infrastructure in the state. Whether it’s a new water treatment plant in Kremmling or a police and fire training facility in Aurora, I can see the fruits of my work and the benefit it brings to communities across Colorado. It also makes explaining what I do to my kids so much easier!

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

The presentation of the strategic plan left me feeling very empowered to play a role in refocusing the CBA to better address the evolving needs of attorneys practicing in Colorado. The opportunity to work with Patricia Jarzobski and so many other people I know and respect just sealed the deal for me. I am looking forward to getting to know each of my fellow council members and working together to set and achieve significant substantive goals in implementing the strategic plans this year.

Mariana Vielma


Executive Council Member at Large

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I was born in Denver and raised in Northern Colorado and a small town in the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. My dad was a farm laborer, so my family moved a lot over the years. As a kid, my biggest dream was to go to college. At first I thought I’d be a teacher because I could see that my teachers were giving me a gift that would literally change my life. What a wonderful way to give back to the world. Eventually, after missing the last two years of high school, what mattered was just having the opportunity to study. We ended up working in the potato fields and warehouses of Idaho before I was able to create and follow my plan. I worked my way through an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, and then moved to El Paso, Texas and worked as a legal assistant while earning a bachelor’s degree over nine years. By then, I wanted my nieces and nephews to see that we live in a country where anything is possible with hard work, a good education, and a willingness to give back to your community. So, I moved to Minnesota to attend the University of St. Thomas School of Law, knowing all along that I’d be coming back home to Colorado. Since returning home in 2005, I have been so blessed to have lived and worked in Adams County, first as a law clerk in District Court for judges who modeled professionalism (Don Marshall and John Popovich), and then as a deputy district attorney, and now as an assistant county attorney.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I first became a law student member of the CBA. I didn’t know what kind of law I wanted to practice but, having observed many lawyers in my paralegal days, I sure knew what kind of lawyer I didn’t want to be. I looked to the CBA to give me some guidance, just by delving into the website and The Colorado Lawyer. Shortly after admission to practice, I joined the Adams Broomfield Bar Association. My first active involvement in the CBA was as a member of the 2009 COBALT class, a program that has made a huge difference in my life, both professionally and personally. Hearing from the many lawyers and non-lawyer leaders who speak at COBALT and meeting and speaking with other lawyers committed to community service and the legal profession have inspired and challenged me not only to be a better leader, but also to be a better coworker, family member, team member, citizen, friend, and person. COBALT certainly has provided me with opportunities to serve others through new community service and professional opportunities, including further CBA involvement. There are always more ways we can work together to improve our profession and communities! Through COBALT and the CBA, I have found the kind of friends that are family.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

Being a lawyer is truly a gift. I love that I still get to be a teacher, as I had originally envisioned as a kid whose only dream was to go to college. As a lawyer, I get to give back to others in so many more ways than I ever dreamed possible. I get to seek justice every day, whether it be for a child, a victim, a family, or a group of people. My favorite quote is from Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Growing up, I observed many injustices in the world. At one point, I figured out that you can either observe and complain about what needs to change, or you can be part of the solution. I know I can’t change the whole world, but I know I can change my world. As a lawyer, we can even help make positive changes in another person’s world in situations that may mean the world to them. It’s the best way I know be a good example to my 18 nieces and nephews and 10 great-nieces and great-nephews.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

At first, it was simple because (then) CBA President-Elect Loren Brown asked me to serve on the Executive Council. I wanted to support Loren in his role, and I also wanted to give back to the CBA, as it has given so much to me. I also want to be part of the bridge between the 17th J.D. and the CBA. In the 17th, we have incredible lawyers and judges who love the profession and the people of our communities. I want the rest of the CBA to know how we are always working to be better. I also want to share the many benefits and opportunities to serve that the CBA has for our folks in the 17th. I guess it is the auntie in me that wants to keep the family working together! I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to both families.

Alison Zinn Sheahen


Executive Council Member at Large

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I graduated from DU law school in 2004. Since that time, I have tried my hand in various litigation practice areas. I finally found a fit in trust and estate litigation. I really enjoy the work that I do. For the majority of my career, I’ve been active in the Colorado Women’s Bar Association and recently served as president from 2014 to 2015. It was one of the most amazing years. I was so lucky to serve our state in that capacity, and the CWBA itself is an amazing organization. I can truly say I would not be where I am without that association and all of the incredible friends, supporters, colleagues, and mentors that it brought (and continues to bring) into my life. Outside of the law, I love spending time with my husband, Andy, and our little (and crazy) 15-year-old shih tzu, Lilly. I am lucky enough to have my parents close by, so we spend time with them and our friends as often as possible. I love the outdoors, but cooking is a definitely a passion of mine; it is a form of meditation.

How did you first get involved in the CBA and how has it enriched your career?

I first joined the bar as a young attorney. I am fortunate to practice in the area of trust and estates and incidentally, that is the best section of the bar! My section is incredibly active in doing everything we can to better our practice area for all involved. We have so many participants who volunteer their time to work on current issues, policy, forms, and professional development. The CBA gives us the means through which to do this important work. In addition, an active section fosters a sense of community, collegiality, and professionalism among colleagues who specialize in this practice area. In my mind, this piece is the most valuable and one of the reasons I enjoy being a lawyer. I also just completed COBALT (shout out to class of 2016!). I highly recommend applying to this program, which enabled me to meet other outstanding attorneys across our state. Through the program, I expanded my leadership skills through guided personal reflection, lessons from my classmates, and lessons from the high-level programming. What a tremendous opportunity afforded to CBA members if they are smart enough to take advantage of it.

What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?

There is no other profession that gives back to the community with the great scope and variety that we do. When you think about it, it is incredibly inspiring. I love that we are a community that focuses on the pursuit of justice, making Colorado a better place, and constantly developing in a professional capacity. I love that my job gives me an avenue to use my skills to help clients in their time of need. More often than not, I find my work to be very rewarding.

Why did you say "yes" to serving on the CBA Executive Council and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?

I think the CBA is at a crossroads where change is inevitable. We can let the change happen to us or we can set the course for the change we want to see. I think Patty has already put many of the wheels in motion for these wonderful changes to happen. I want to be part of this exciting time! 

 

 

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