2005-2006 Annual Report
My year is completed. I had a wonderful experience. I’ve come a long way from volunteering to tutor first-graders as a member of the Community Action Network Committee. Our Denver Bar Association provides hundreds of volunteer opportunities and we should sign up for them. The rewards of giving far exceed the burden on our time. Our Supreme Court is encouraging all of us to volunteer under Rule 6.1; I encourage you to take a Metro Volunteer Lawyers case or aid those less fortunate through the volunteer opportunities presented by the DBA.
Unfortunately, my work is not done. We have a partisan political issue at hand, and as representatives of the court, we must defeat it. We need your help. The ballot initiative for judicial term limits is looming as a terrible challenge to judicial independence. I have been busy this summer with the call to create grassroots education so the voters can be reminded that term limits for appellate judges is a bad idea. The concept insults the notion that our judges are independent and responsible. The initiative is irresponsible. Please join me and the other members of the DBA in opposing the initiative. To get involved, e-mail Stacy Chesney at email@example.com.
On to regular business: The DBA is in excellent condition. We have a fabulous staff. Space constraints do not let me thank them individually. I wish I could. The staff at the DBA is a grand group of eclectics and you should get to know them by volunteering. Thanks to the committee chairs, volunteers and officers for their unfailing support and unceasing words of encouragement. At every turn, I found someone who would accept an opportunity to help. This is a truth that we as a profession must extol. We are a profession, and, like no other, we always answer the call when the less fortunate need help. My thanks to all of you for helping with dozens and dozens of efforts, including Hurricane Katrina Relief, Roll out the Barrels, CAN’s Winter Soirée, DBA Young Lawyers Division’s Winter Festival, Veterans Stand Down, School Supply Drive, MVL, and every other volunteer activity sponsored by the DBA.
The DBA has more than 7,800 members, with an annual budget of slightly more than $1.1 million. In comparison, the Colorado Bar Association has more than 15,000 members and an annual budget of nearly $2.7 million. The DBA has a staff of 35, including four people who work exclusively for Metro Volunteer Lawyers. Nearly all of these staff members also work for the CBA. Their salaries, expenses and resources are shared by the DBA and CBA. Last June, Debora L. Wagner joined MVL as executive director and she made it better. Thanks Debora.
DBA staff and volunteers have continued their hard work to improve and maintain the DBA website, which can be found at http://www.denbar.org. Check it out to see what our committees are doing and how to contact committee chairpersons and staff members concerning the work of the committees. I challenge you to get a grasp on what the DBA does for the community and our members. You will be impressed.
I am honored to have served as the Denver Bar Association president. It is now in the capable hands of Paul Chan. Good luck, Paul. I hope to see you ’round the Bar.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee continues to run the "Court Annexed Mediation Project," which provides mediation services to litigants and their attorneys in Denver’s County and Small Claims Civil Courts.
With chair Susan Smith Fisher leading the way, the Awards Committee selected a deserving group of honorees: Anthony van Westrum, Award of Merit; Michelle B. Ferguson, Young Lawyer of the Year; Judges Mary A. Celeste and Lawrence A. Manzanares, Judicial Excellence; and Neil B. Oberfeld, Volunteer Lawyer of the Year. Awards were presented at the Annual Party at the Denver Public Library on June 6.
Barristers Benefit Ball
The 18th annual Barristers Benefit Ball, "Here’s Looking at You," was held April 29, with more than 650 attending. The committee, co-chaired by Rebecca Alexander and Paul Chan, worked feverishly to plan the event, which raised nearly $100,000 for Metro Volunteer Lawyers. This year marked the 40th anniversary of MVL so, in addition to honoring three volunteer attorneys, Adam Devoe, Scott Ellis and Elizabeth Thomas, MVL’s surviving founders also were honored. They are Jerry Conover, Bill DeMoulin, Garth Grissom and Howard Rosenberg. Thanks to everyone who helped make this great event a reality, especially LexisNexis®, which was the benefactor of the 2006 ball.
The Bench-Bar Committee
The Bench-Bar Committee, under the leadership of Judge Jay Breese and Charles Garcia, worked with Jury Commissioner LeAnna Mosher on a number of improvements for the jury system in Denver. The improvements included an upgraded phone system with information menu options, reduced parking rates for jury members, free passes to Denver museums, discount coupons for downtown Denver restaurants and jury room aesthetics.
The Bench-Bar Committee also worked with the Jury Commissioner and the Denver City/County Courthouse to celebrate Law Week, May 1–5. The theme was celebration of the 40th anniversary of the merit selection system for judges in Colorado. Mayor John Hickenlooper issued a proclamation honoring the 40th anniversary on May 1 and presented it to the jury pool along with a speech on the importance of an independent judiciary. Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs spoke to the jury pool on May 2 and Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Janice Davidson spoke to the jury pool on May 3. Denver Chief County Court Judge Andrew Armatas was there as a liaison on behalf of the 40th Anniversary Steering Committee of the Judicial Advisory Council on all three days. Denver District Court Judge Christina Habas, also a liaison of the Steering Committee, spoke to the jury pool on May 3. Together with Judge Armatas, all Denver County and District Court Judges are encouraged to continue speaking to the jury pool for the next year about the importance of the merit selection process.
The committee also has worked with Denver County Court in an effort to develop strategies to reduce failures-to-appear in county courts. The committee continues to work on this project, as well as informational court brochures. The appeals pamphlet was completed and made available to the public. The committee, with the assistance of Howard Rosenberg of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, is working on county court criminal brochures, which the committee hopes to complete this year.
DBA–CLE is the non-profit educational arm of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations. In meeting the needs of Colorado lawyers, DBA–CLE presents approximately 95 live programs statewide throughout the year on a variety of topics. These programs attract several thousand attendees each year and many of the programs are co-sponsored by the sections and standing committees of the DBA. Programs range from half-day seminars to popular multi-day annual conferences. Most are videotaped for replay and audio-taped for home study.
DBA–CLE also publishes more than 40 handbooks and practice manuals covering various law practice specialties. The publications are authoritative and are written by practicing attorneys and sitting judges, as well as edited and cite-checked by experienced legal editors. The books are designed to be practitioner-oriented, and include essential forms, helpful checklists, organizational tabs, a subject index, tables of authorities, practice tips and sample language to save time and make services more economical.
DBA–CLE has developed an enhanced electronic and Web presence, and is developing its capabilities for online distance education and searchable CLE information database. Visit us at http://www.cobar.org/cle.
The department took on a new look, welcoming Mindy Marks as Communication Specialist, and Stacy Chesney as Director of Communications. Our focus is communications for our members and the public/media. For members, we provide information and resources through the Denver Bar Association weekly e-newsletter, sent to members each Tuesday, and the monthly publication, The Docket. We serve as a conduit to the media — suggesting stories about the good things members are doing, giving feedback on stories, and providing legal experts to encourage accurate and balanced reporting. We encourage members to write letters to the editor or call reporters directly. In addition, we can help you prepare for a media interview if you need it.
Our role for the public and media is to help them understand and navigate the legal system. We keep in touch with reporters and editors in Denver, trying to educate in areas that are complex. We’ve teamed up with the Colorado Judicial Department to create "Law School for Journalists," a series of monthly programs designed to provide reporters with basic information about the legal system and the judiciary. We try to call and e-mail reporters on a regular basis — offering praise for a good job, suggesting stories, and sometimes giving (constructive) criticism. Reporters need to know we’re reading about the issues.
The department tries to respond to what’s going on in the legal community. This year, specifically, we are taking a strong stance against the proposed ballot initiative of term limits for appellate judges. We’ve contacted the editorial boards and written letters to the editor in support of our merit selection and retention system, and explaining why the proposal for term limits is a bad idea. If there is something in the media that concerns you, call us in case we haven’t seen it. Contact Stacy Chesney, firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 824-5347.
Community Action Network Committee (CAN)
In 2005–2006, the DBA Community Action Network teamed with law firms in the Denver area to provide support to many Denver nonprofit organizations doing great things for the needy in our community.
The support from the legal community was incredible this year, with tireless efforts from law firms and organizations to bring in hundreds of cans of food, toothbrushes, school supplies and cash donations for all the drives throughout the year.
Back to School Supply Drive. For two weeks in July 2005, Denver-area law firms and organizations collected school supplies and cash donations that benefited hundreds of homeless students in the Denver Public School system. School children and their parents were able to pick up the donations and enjoy a day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where DBA members volunteered and distributed supplies.
Winter Soirée to Benefit Children’s Outreach Project. The CAN Committee Winter Soirée and Silent Auction on Jan. 26 was a great success. More than 250 adults and children attended, and more than $14,000 was raised for Children’s Outreach Project, which provides early childhood and kindergarten education to "typical, gifted and developmentally delayed children" in the Denver-metro area.
Molly Hughes from Channel 4 News emceed the event at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The evening included showings of the Dolphins and Everest IMAX movies, exhibits at the museum, great food and wine, and special silent auction items. Congratulations to the winners of the "We CAN" Community Service Awards Pryor Johnson Carney Karr & Nixon; Edwards & Taylor; Qwest Services Corporation; and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Kids in Need of Dentistry Drive. Thanks to DBA member Leslie Toepfer, who has spearheaded the event for the past few years. Due to her efforts, the 2006 Toothbrush Drive was a great success. The drive benefits Kids In Need of Dentistry (KIND), a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing low-cost dental care to children of less-fortunate families throughout Colorado. The drive raised nearly $1,000 and gathered hundreds of toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss for needy children.
Roll Out the Barrels Food Drive. This drive benefits the Food Bank of the Rockies and this year was the most successful year yet. More than 60 firms and organizations gathered cash, checks and food donations for the Food Bank of the Rockies. More than $24,000 in cash and food donations were collected, as Denver-area firms rallied their staff and came up with creative ideas to collect cans for the infamous "barrels" that hold the donations. The friendly firm competition is always a spirited event and the winners in their respective categories/firm sizes were: Walter L. Gerash Law Firm (1–20); Townsend & Townsend & Crew (21–60); Issacson Rosenbaum (61–100); Wheeler Trigg Kennedy (101–150); and Faegre & Benson (151+).
The Democracy Education Committee
The Democracy Education Committee, chaired by Elsa Martinez Tenreiro, continued its efforts to build the Denver regional mock trial tournament. Six Denver schools fielded mock trial teams: Kennedy, Career Education Center, North, George Washington and La Academia high schools, and the Denver School of Science & Technology. All competed in the February 2006 tournament held at the Denver City and County Courthouse. Kennedy High School advanced to represent Denver in the CBA High School Mock Trial State Tournament, and finished fourth statewide. More than 150 Denver attorneys volunteered to assist with the Denver regional tournament, as well as the state tournament, held at the Denver City and County Courthouse in March. The committee continues its work to engage more Denver schools in the Denver Mock Trial program.
The committee’s Court Tour Program continued, but not without challenges. This year, more than 15 court tours were conducted at the Denver City/County Courthouse. The increased interest is positive; however, the Court Tour program is still struggling to get enough trained volunteers to sign up for these tours, leaving the staff with the bulk of the responsibility. The committee will continue to evaluate this program and to find ways to recruit more members to conduct tours.
The DBA Speakers’ Bureau dispatched several volunteer attorneys to speak in public schools and a few community events. Marketing efforts to educate schools about this program will continue into 2006–2007.
Finally, the Democracy Education Committee completed an original in-class mock trial script titled "The Case of Spongebob Roundpants" for use in the elementary school class mock trial program. Copies of this script are available upon request for member use at their children’s schools. The committee will continue its efforts to provide materials for teachers and volunteer attorneys to teach the judicial and trial process in classrooms, using another script for middle school students.
The committee continues to work with the CBA Public Legal Education Committee on projects that will benefit Denver and other local bar communities.
Diversity In The Legal Profession Committee
The Diversity In The Legal Profession Committee, a joint committee of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, has continued its goal to cultivate diversity within the legal community and work with law schools, law students, practicing lawyers and legal employers throughout Colorado to promote diversity at all levels. The committee’s major yearly project is the Mentor/Mentee Program. Through this program, first-year law students are paired with experienced attorneys for guidance and learning. Research has demonstrated that diverse law students and young attorneys benefit greatly when they have a mentor. This program is a joint effort by DILP, the University of Colorado School of Law, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and several specialty bar associations. DILP also sponsors the State High School Diversity Conference and sends teams of diverse attorneys to make presentations at the conference, with the goal of encouraging diverse high school students to pursue legal careers. The annual Rocky Mountain Diversity Legal Career Fair, held each year in September, is an important legal diversity event sponsored and supported by DILP. Finally, DILP actively promotes and supports The Colorado Pledge to Diversity Summer Clerkship Program, which seeks to diversify Colorado’s law firms and legal corporate departments, while giving students the opportunity to gain exposure to the work, requirements and culture of major law firms. DILP plans to work to educate the legal community regarding the business case for diversity in the upcoming year by organizing events highlighting corporate counsels’ national "Call to Action" movement.
It was shenanigans as usual for this non-traditional committee. New ideas were attempted. Some — like the "Savage Law" column — failed; some — like "Q & A" with a member — flourished. Issue highlights included a Bar Review, where 99 percent of the members went to the wrong place; columns written by judges reflecting on the demanding life on the Bench; an (April Fools) article about attorney license cancellations that sent members reeling; and a "serial story" we’re not sure anyone read. We invite all members to participate — in writing, suggesting topics, taking pictures, participating in the bar reviews and even in the meetings. Contact Stacy Chesney, email@example.com, or Mindy Marks, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your suggestions, questions, stories, photos and breaking news.
The Interprofessional Committee is charged with investigating disputes between attorneys and other professionals and making non-binding recommendations for the resolution of such disputes. The committee will be changing its structure. The committee will consist of 20 appointed members, and all of the past-chairs of the committee. This is an effort to
Legal Fee Arbitration
Resolution rather than litigation! The DBA Legal Fee Arbitration Committee continues to mediate and arbitrate fee disputes between clients and their attorneys in another busy year. The committee received hundreds of inquiries on legal fee arbitration, most of which were resolved without setting an arbitration hearing. The committee remains one of the most active of all bar committees with daily stacks of mail and ongoing phone calls from both the public and attorneys, not to mention satisfied customers! The free service allows the attorney to resolve fee disputes while maintaining respect for the fiduciary duty owed to the client.
In using LFA, each party must first agree to participating in arbitration to start the expedited process. The committee then assigns each case an experienced mediator and an arbitration panel. The majority of cases are settled through a session with the mediator. If the case cannot be settled, the panel, with committee review, will attempt to resolve the dispute with a quick and casual hearing.
The committee is comprised of attorneys and lay members, with a mix of long-term and new members. The process is considered a gentle, flexible, quick and informal. It is an effective vehicle for the resolution of disputes between two people who have been in a trusting fiduciary relationship. LFA provides resolution rather than litigation.
The Legal Services Committee, co-chaired by Ilene Bloom and Kate Kelley, continues its pro se legal clinic programs, in partnership with the courts, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and El Centro de San Juan Diego. The clinics — on divorce, bankruptcy, small claims and collections, and immigration — continue to be well-attended. Lawline 9 at KUSA-TV Channel 9 also continues to be a popular community program with more than 7,500 calls received in the last year. More than 200 attorneys volunteer to staff this program during the course of the year. It airs every Wednesday evening, and on special occasions. Additional early morning Lawline 9 programs are offered to highlight current legal topics in the news. The committee hosted a pilot project in place of Law on the Mall. A trial run of Law at the Mall was in the fall of 2005. Attorney volunteers from the Denver Bar Association and the Adams/Broomfield Bar Association staffed a table at Westminster Mall, answering public legal questions. Also, 15 volunteer attorneys staffed the DBA booth at the 2006 CHUN Capitol Hill People’s Fair where more than 100 questions were answered. Finally, eight volunteer attorneys staffed the 2005 Veteran’s Stand Down event held at the National Guard Armory at 52nd and Franklin, where more than 70 veterans were provided legal information and resource referrals. The Pro Bono Training subcommittee is preparing another CLE training program for attorneys who are interested in doing pro bono work, which will be offered in August 2006.
Membership and Marketing
Approximately 7,800 legal professionals belong to the Denver Bar Association, as the DBA continues to provide support to the Denver-area legal community. The DBA membership department provides opportunities for members to network (social and business) and assists other DBA departments, in addition to providing other membership benefits.
One of the most tangible benefits of belonging to the DBA is receiving a free copy of the Colorado Legal Directory. Every member of the DBA is mailed a directory each year as part of his or her membership dues. (The only local bar association that provides this!) The DBA works with the publisher, McGraw Hill, to produce the directory. The publication is a valuable source of revenue for the DBA and the Membership Services Committee welcomes any comments or suggestions for the directory.
Membership helped organize and promote a Career Development Conference and Job Fair in November 2005, with more than 150 DBA members in attendence. The conference included some great programs on "Finding Your Next Job" and a special "Rainmaking" session.
The DBA Young Lawyers Division Professional Development Committee (you may know by its nickname, "Coffee Talk") continues its success in the fifth year. The monthly program focuses on topics of particular interest to new attorneys. Topics this year included: The New Bankruptcy Act, Updates to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and Avoiding Common Ethical Mistakes.
DBA Membership also supported fundraising efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and helped organize resources for victims who relocated to Colorado. Between the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, we were able to donate approximately $45,000 to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
DBA Membership Services organizes the spring and fall Admissions Ceremonies for new attorneys, in conjunction with the CBA. New attorneys are welcomed at the ceremonies by leaders in the legal community and are sworn in by Chief Justice Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court. In the fall of 2005, 584 attorneys passed the Colorado Bar Examination and in the spring of 2006, 288 were admitted to practice in the state of Colorado.
One of the goals of the Membership Department is to partner with law schools and students, to provide mentoring and networking opportunities. The DBA co-sponsors the University of Denver "Fall New Student Orientation." DBA staff has a chance to meet with new students, answer questions and provide direction.
The DBA held a member "Day at Elitch Gardens," where 75 members and family enjoyed a special "nonprofit" day at the park. Elitch’s has become more family-focused in 2006 and many kids were able to enjoy all the fun activities.
In the fall of 2005, the DBA Membership Department supported the 12th Annual Legal Aid Foundation Wine and Beer Tasting Benefit by promoting the event, assisting with sponsorship support, and providing door prizes. The event raised money for the Legal Aid Foundation. In January 2006, the DBA YLD hosted its annual Winter Festival and DBA Membership/Marketing helped support their marketing efforts.
The DBA membership committee also helped market and promote the 2006 DBA Community Action Winter Soirée at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which benefited Children’s Outreach Project in Denver.
The Spring 2006 Annual Henry Hall Memorial Golf Tournament was successful for another year, with 100 DBA members and friends enjoying a beautiful golf course, and braving the fierce winds that sprung up at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Course. Despite the wind, everyone had a good time and received lots of goodies and prizes, in addition to a great day of golf. Membership works with the DBA Golf Committee to raise money through sponsorships to make the event affordable.
The DBA Membership Department offers discounts for members on everything from office supplies to business attire. Through your membership in the DBA, you also can receive discounts to several Denver-area health clubs, promoting wellness among our members!
The DBA Membership Services and Marketing Department also is responsible for selling the advertising in The Docket, the official publication of the DBA. Advertising revenue remained steady this year and new advertisers joined this year, offering our members the latest in legal products and services.
Metropolitan Conciliation Panel
The bar associations of Adams County, Broomfield County, Denver County, the 1st Judicial District (Jefferson and Gilpin Counties) and the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe and Douglas Counties) cooperate to run the Metropolitan Conciliation Panel. MCP now consists of a diverse group of 26 well-respected lawyers from all local bar associations and is administered by a five-member coordinating council. MCP intervenes in conflicts between attorneys over issues of professionalism and civility, as defined in the "Denver Bar Association Principles of Professionalism" and the "Colorado Bar Association Standards of Professionalism."
All work of the MCP is confidential and voluntary. "Interventions" often consist of a panel member acting as a sounding board for an attorney involved in a professionalism dispute with another attorney. An intervention also can involve providing conciliation services between the disputing attorneys. Excluded from the jurisdiction of MCP are all matters where the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct apply or control, and all requests for intervention by consumers. Requests for intervention and referrals are accepted from attorneys, judges, magistrates and the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Regulation Counsel. For more information, contact MCP co-chairs John Baker at (303) 329-3855 or David Furgason at (303) 861-8013.
Metro Volunteer Lawyers
Metro Volunteer Lawyers is celebrating its 40th anniversary. MVL provides pro bono legal services to low-income residents of the Denver metro area. This year, MVL provided more than 1,150 clients with advice, brief service, or pro se assistance; and volunteer attorneys represented 1,040 indigent clients. MVL expanded its Family Law Court Program this year by recruiting and training law student and paralegal volunteers.
Nearly half of the MVL budget comes from the Barristers Benefit Ball. The remainder of the budget comes from COLTAF, individual contributions, and per capita contributions from the Adams/Broomfield, Arapahoe, Douglas/Elbert and the First Judicial District bar associations.
This group of attorneys, chaired by Jim Bayer, is for those "65 or better." It has four big events throughout the year. The fall "Seniors Roast," honored Hover Lentz in October. December brought the Holiday Party at the DBA, which is nothing more than good ol’ camaraderie, holiday cheer and tasty fare. In July is the golf tournament, which always is a good time. Finally, the best party of the year is the Senior Spring Banquet, which honors Denver lawyers who have been licensed for 50 years. This past May, the committee honored 24 attending attorneys. With the largest turnout to date, nearly 150 people were on hand at the Warwick Hotel to honor these accomplished individuals. DBA President Chris Little and Past-President Mary Jo Gross kept the room laughing, as they shared stories of the careers and lives of the honorees.
The DBA’s dynamic, database-driven website continues to grow with new content added weekly. The Senior Law Handbook has been updated and new issues of The Docket are added to the site before they arrive in your mailboxes. It’s easy to keep your bar-related events straight with the joint DBA online calendar and the Legal Community Calendar. The "Public Interest" section offers educational materials, such as brochures and handbooks. Also on the site are the DBA governance and expanded committee information.
Young Lawyers Division (YLD)
The DBA YLD held the annual "Winter Festival" for foster children, which was a highly successful event. The DBA YLD also continued its monthly "Barristers After Hours" program, which helps young attorneys break away from their desks to socialize and network. It held another successful court orientation for new attorneys at the Denver District Court, at which many judges spoke and provided insight for attorneys who are just starting to appear before them. The DBA YLD continues to host the monthly "Coffee Talk" morning CLE programs, with topics geared toward young lawyers. The division also started a new event, "Attorney’s Night Out," to help raise money for The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People. The new beer tasting and silent auction brought in approximately $14,000 for the Legal Center. The DBA YLD hopes to continue the event next year.
The DBA finished the 2005–2006 fiscal year with income exceeding expenses. The staff should be commended for keeping expenses down, while expanding programs and services.
The DBA is still in an excellent financial position, with adequate reserves to allow it to plan for future member needs. The Budget and Planning Committee will continue to work with the Board of Trustees to plan and budget for the future. A complete audit will be available at the bar offices after Oct. 1. The following charts outline the financial figures in greater detail.
Committees...Are you on the List?
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Barristers Benefit Ball
Bench Bar Committee
Community Action Network
Christopher B. Little
Christopher B. Little
Henry Hall Memorial Golf Tournament
Legal Fee Arbitration
Carolyn J. Mitchell
Carolyn J. Mitchell
Professionalism Larry D. Lee
Larry D. Lee
The DBA Seniors Committee consists of DBA members "privileged to be 65 and older," and who enjoy camaraderie with their fellows. The Committee puts on four or five events a year. New members welcome.