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TCL > July 2005 Issue > The Coming Year

July 2005       Vol. 34, No. 7       Page  6
In and Around the Bar
CBA President's Message to Members

The Coming Year
by Roger Clark


Thanks for taking a look at my first message as the Colorado Bar Association ("CBA") President for the 2005–2006 administrative year. With luck, it might spark your interest enough that you also read an occasional future column.

I haven’t developed a single major theme, either for the CBA or for this column for the coming year. From time to time, I’ll probably toss out a few thoughts about current issues of note; for example, the importance of preserving an independent judiciary and protecting the physical well being of judges, lawyers, and court staff. I also have in mind to use some columns and the presidential local bar visits to tell you about activities of the CBA that might not be that familiar to you.

If I were to articulate some broad theme to characterize this year’s activities, it would be a renewal, and reenergizing, of pride in our profession and in this association—to remember why we became lawyers and why we continue in this work. From time to time, though probably too infrequently, I will mention CBA members whose dedication and hard work are noteworthy. There are more of those stories than we can ever tell. If you know one, pass it on to me. Even if I’m not able to cover your hero’s story in this column, I’d like to know about those folks and get the chance to send them thanks for their efforts.

Heroes of the Bar

One of those heroes is the man who preceded me as your CBA President, Judge Steve Briggs. I can’t thank him enough for the time he has taken to tutor me in details of this job that I otherwise would not have understood. Steve’s able predecessor, Bob Truhlar, has likewise made special efforts to fill me in on what this position is about. I’m grateful to both of them and the other Bar leaders who have graciously shared their time and thoughts with me. Don’t blame them for the mistakes I make during the coming year. They have done their best with what they had to work with.1

Those who know me won’t be surprised when efforts at humor seep into my columns and talks this year. We’re all better off if we laugh at ourselves from time to time. At least I’ll think some of what I say is funny. You’re welcome to laugh at, if not with, me. Just take time to smile.

Willis Carpenter

One of the special members of our Bar I’d like to mention is Willis Carpenter. Each year, the CBA gives its Award of Merit to one distinguished member of our profession. Willis was the 2004–2005 recipient. Steve Briggs was out of town when the award was presented at the Bar Fellows dinner in January, so I got the chance to give the award in Steve’s absence. The following is based on the remarks made on that occasion:

Although a cliché, Willis Carpenter truly does need no introduction. And any words about him would be more entertaining if he was delivering them himself.

But we’ll give it a shot.

Willis V. Carpenter was born in a log cabin on the high plains near Hayden, Colorado—several years ago. We’ll not linger on his childhood years. As is the case with most of our award recipients, he wrote the usual symphony by age 3, lettered in every sport, every year, and found a cure for a disease or two by the time he graduated from East High School in Denver.

But his true passion was always real property law. And, of course, his lovely wife Barbara, and his children.

Will received his BA, cum laude, from Princeton and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He returned to Denver in 1954 to practice law and has been there ever since. He served with distinction in the Navy and the Navy Reserves for many years, retiring as a captain.

Once his law practice took off, Will quickly became known as one of Colorado’s premier real estate lawyers. He chaired the CBA Real Property Section in 1976–77 and received that section’s first "Deserving Member Award" in 1986. Will has served on the Title Standards Committee since 1980. He developed and continues to teach the Colorado Real Estate Practice Course, which has virtually become a required course for Colorado real estate lawyers.

Will has authored numerous publications on the subject of real estate law, including, two books, Colorado Title Insurance Practice and, along with his long-time paralegal Holly Hoxeng, the real estate law bible, Colorado Real Estate Practice.

Will is a frequent lecturer at Continuing Legal Education ("CLE") conferences. He served as director of CLE in Colorado (now called CBA–CLE) from 1967 through 1988 and was CBA–CLE’s President in 1976–77. He has regaled countless CLE gatherings—and cocktail parties—on the history of Colorado real estate law.

In 2002, Will was the first recipient of CBA–CLE’s Richard N. Doyle Award of Excellence. He is a charter member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and a Fellow of both the American Bar Foundation and the Colorado Bar Foundation. Will also served as President of the Denver Bar Association in 1978–79. He received the DBA Annual Award of Merit in 1993, so that award and the CBA Award of Merit together will make nice bookends. It wears you out just to hear about how much he has accomplished, doesn’t it?

In his continuing efforts for the good of the Bar, Will co-produced daughter Stacey, who, like her father, is enthusiastically dedicated to her law practice, to service to the profession, and to her community. Last summer in Snowmass, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary year of his law practice, Will was named as the first inductee to the Colorado Bar Real Estate Section’s Hall of Fame. When I was listening to the tapes of the Real Estate Section’s Snowmass Seminar in early December—yes, to finish up my CLE requirements—I heard daughter Stacey and Wills’ long-time partner, Andy Klatskin, praise the honoree in a manner almost as excited, and deservedly over the top, as one of Wills’ own lectures on the history of real property law.

Will has rightly become known as the Dean of Colorado Real Estate Law—and a kindly, good-humored, and generous Dean at that. With all the publications, Bar activities, and personal and professional success that Will has had, perhaps his greatest impact on the Colorado legal profession is through the time and expertise he contributes as a mentor to other lawyers.

I recall that many years ago, I phoned Will for help on a real estate matter that needed some corrective work. I don’t remember what the problem was, but with Wills’ advice and a generous amount of his time, the matter was resolved in a completely satisfactory way. When I asked Will to let me compensate him for his time, he predictably declined and said: "Roger, I hope it’s smooth sailing from here on out."

That was not the only time he’s given me invaluable help. And many others could recite similar memories. Throughout his career, Will has made the practice of law smoother and more fun for so many of us.

What else is there to say about him? Oh yes: Will is the only person ever featured as a centerfold in The Docket. He’s a gardener and a stamp collector, and he drives a 1966 Plymouth Fury Convertible, which can never be lawfully driven in the left lane or, indeed, any lane of I-25.

We’ve only scratched the surface of his honors and accomplishments. The most surprising thing about this year’s recipient of the Colorado Bar Association Award of Merit is that it took us fifty years to present it. Will Carpenter is the perfect metaphor for what I hope the focus for this CBA year will be.

Call Me!

Again, let me know your thoughts as to Bar heroes we should recognize. And tell me how you feel about what our association does or should do. I’m a sensitive person, but I can take it.

Thanks for letting me be your President. Come see me when I’m in or near your town this year or any other time you can. Together, we can make it through this with a smile.

My contact information is:

Roger E. Clark
Clark Williams and Matsunaka, LLC
2881 N. Monroe Ave., Ste. No. 1
Loveland, CO 80538
Phone: (970) 669-8668
Fax: (970) 667-7524


1. For example, Steve Briggs would never have ended this sentence with a preposition or wasted a footnote on this lame joke.

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