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DBA YLD Member Highlight: Courtney Butler


1. Why did you become a lawyer?
It may sound cliché, but I became a lawyer to help people. I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. I also became a lawyer because I desired a career that would keep me on my toes and challenge me every day.

2. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Things always look better in the morning.” My mom has given me that advice more times than I can count, and she has always been right. (Don’t tell her that!)

3. What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your career?
Working in immigration law, there are a lot of devastating days, but there are also a lot of rewarding ones. Reuniting family members, helping a deserving client avoid deportation, saving someone from persecution … every single successful case is a rewarding one. The smiles, happy tears and emphatic “thank-you’s” that I receive are enough to remind me that the frustration and bureaucracy are always worth it in the end.

4. How do you achieve work–life balance?
I’m an avid long-distance runner, and I love to snowboard, hike, backpack, camp and play Ultimate Frisbee. On my quieter days, and when it’s sunny, I enjoy cuddling with a good book in my backyard.

5. When did you start learning Spanish?
High school. I continued taking classes in college and studied abroad in Buenos Aires.

6. What are some of the advantages of being bilingual when practicing law?
Being bilingual is essential to practicing immigration law in Colorado. The vast majority of my clients come from Mexico, Central America and South America. If I were not bilingual, I wouldn’t be capable of truly understanding my clients’ cases or communicating our case strategy to them. But being bilingual isn’t just useful in immigration. In our global environment, more and more clients will need attorneys who speak other languages. Learning another language was the best decision I ever made — not only as it relates to my career, but also personally. With learning a foreign language comes cultural understanding, and that makes one a better lawyer and a better world citizen.

7. What inspired your enthusiasm for Metro Volunteer Lawyers?
In law school, I was one of the bilingual intake volunteers for Colorado Legal Services (CLS) and learned a bit about Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) through my work there. I have an extensive background in public interest, so it was natural that I found MVL’s mission important. There is a significant shortage of legal services for those who can’t afford traditional attorneys, so I was very appreciative that such an organization exists. When the YLD started looking for a liaison to MVL, I jumped at the chance.

8. What is your biggest pet peeve?
I’m one of those people who can’t stand certain noises. I could be in a crowd of a 1,000 and still pick out people loudly chewing gum, slurping coffee or tapping a pencil.

9. If you could change anything about Denver, what would it be?
The crowds. I’m a Colorado native, and while I’m proud that so many people love our state and want to move here, I have a long commute, and traffic is a nightmare!

10. If you weren’t a lawyer, you’d be:
A river rafting guide? A lighting designer? An environmental engineer? A travel writer or photographer? A realtor? Fortunately for me, immigration law was my dream career!


This post originally appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Member Profiles

DBA YLD Chair Klaralee Charlton and YLD Council Member Matthew Broderick’s Hollywood Debut in Support of MVL!

ICYMI – Check out the acting debut of our very own YLD Chair, Klaralee Charlton, and council member, Matthew Broderick, in this promo video for Barristers Benefit Ball. Possible career change for both in the near future? You decide.

If you haven’t already, make sure to buy your tickets for the ball on April 29 at EXDO Event Center in RiNo, which benefits Metro Volunteer Lawyers. With the potential cut in the national budget to Legal Services Corporation, MVL needs your help now more than ever. PLUS, YLDers get a special price!

Posted in Community

Call for Member Highlights!

Do you have a secret talent or side gig or know of a member who falls into this category? Is there a special social cause that you would like to have highlighted on social media? As part of our May member appreciation month, we want to share the dynamic strengths that make the DBA great!

Please email Vanessa Babarsky at to be included in this special spotlight, and let your colleagues and community know what makes you — you!

Posted in Community

Confidential Comedy – A Review

By Alex Ray

Recently the GLBT Community Center of Colorado’s (The Center) Legal Program hosted a one of a kind legal comedy themed ethics CLE. Confidential Comedy was part comedy show, part improv sketch, and all legal humor! Local attorney Maha Kamal hosted Legal Jeopardy which quizzed participants on specific Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The Final Jeopardy Question alluded to every attorney’s favorite section of the Colorado Lawyer…the disciplinary section!

comedyAfter Jeopardy, nationally recognized comedian Eric Henderson got the crowd roaring with an honest bit about social commentary, the state of the country, and nut water. (Whose bright idea was it to name almond milk anyway?! Have YOU ever tried to milk an almond?)

Finally, former Denver District Judge Christina Habas presided over the audience donning her black judge robe and making a grand entrance to AC/DC’s popular hard rock tune “Back in Black.” She then assisted participants in determining the applicability of certain Model Rules to the judiciary. Have you ever thought about kidnapping a defendant or fibbing to the court about guilt or innocence? Judge Habas had you covered and was happy to answer all the audience’s pressing questions!

A huge thank you goes out to Maha Kamal, Eric Henderson, Christina Habas, and Klaralee Charlton. We couldn’t have made the event such a success without your participation and sponsorship! Together we raised just over $450 for the Legal Program.

The Center’s Legal Program is the only legal project in Colorado dedicated solely to the equality and dignity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. We work to protect and further the legal rights of LGBT Coloradoans through strategic partnerships, educational initiatives, and legal referral sercomedy2vices.

Community members in need of legal advice or resources can reach out via our online Legal Helpline to be personally matched with a referral attorney willing to provide a free 30-minute consultation. The Legal Helpline facilitates over 400 inquires each year and enables that our community members have a simple and effective pipeline to LGBT friendly attorneys in Colorado.

This Direct Referral Network is comprised of “member attorneys” who pay a small annual fee and receive several non-referral based benefits such as being included in the LGBT & Ally Attorney Directory, access to free CLE programs put on by The Center’s Legal Program (like Confidential Comedy!), and one “Attorney Spotlight” with a photo and bio posted on our website, social media, or in a newsletter. Additional information and membership applications can be found online.

Additionally, the Legal Program hosts a monthly free legal clinic where attorneys volunteer their time providing legal consultation on a variety of practice areas. Community members attend the event and are given access to a face-to-face meeting with one of the volunteer attorneys on a walk in basis. Legal Program Member Attorneys have first priority in registering for legal clinic attorney slots. If you are interested in volunteering for a future free legal clinic, please contact Alex Ray at

Posted in Community

CBA’s ACTNow Initiative and President’s Diversity Council

By CBA President Patricia M. Jarzobski

The American Bar Association has observed that the legal profession has a diversity problem. As Deborah Rhode noted in her May 2015 article for The Washington Post, the legal profession is the least diverse in the nation, and many believe that we are not doing enough to fix this problem.

Bar associations are critical vehicles for advancing diversity. We help shape the norms of our profession. When bar associations prioritize diversity, it institutionalizes critical values. When we do not prioritize diversity, it creates an environment that tends to exclude underrepresented groups.

One way that the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations hope to become more diverse and inclusive is by collaborating and strengthening our relationships with the diversity bar associations. The diversity bar associations are full of leadership talent and engaged members who are making a difference in our community, in the courtroom, in the legislature and on the bench.

ACTNow Initiative: Appointing Critical Talent Now!

I launched the ACTNow Initiative last spring to build a pipeline to leadership from the diversity bar associations to the CBA. The CBA president and president-elect make appointments to influential committees, boards and commissions in the CBA and within the broader Colorado legal community. The ACTNow Initiative bridges the information gap about such appointments.
Through the ACTNow Initiative, I appointed candidates to key leadership positions in the following:

  • the Executive Council,
  • the Joint Management Committee,
  • the Legislative Policy Committee,
  • the Nominating Committee,
  • the Budget Committee,
  • the ABA House of Delegates, and
  • The Colorado Lawyer Editorial Advisory Board.

The CBA President’s Diversity Council

CBA Past President Loren Brown launched the President’s Diversity Council in 2015. The Diversity Council encompasses the CBA’s leadership, senior staff, and diversity bar presidents and president-elects.
The CBA President’s Diversity Council convenes on a monthly basis. We’ve set up a Diversity Council Leadership Listserv to facilitate communication and a diversity bar calendar that helps us coordinate events and encourage attendance from other bar associations.

Diversity and Inclusivity in Action

Here is a synopsis of the many great things that we have done:

  • The CBA and CWBA joined forces in 2016 and 2017 to sponsor three trips to Cuba.
  • The diversity bar associations published a special series in The Colorado Lawyer that runs from October 2016 through February 2017.
  • The CBA encouraged diversity bar members to apply for the 2016 and 2017 leadership training program — COBALT. The past two years have yielded the most diverse classes to-date.
  • The CBA YLD held a sold-out social event with the diversity bar associations in August.
  • The CBA sponsored the Sam Cary Bar Association’s SEE MEâ„¢ community rally in July.
  • Forty diversity bar leaders, presidents and allies attended a fun food truck event at my home last summer to meet and talk one-on-one with the CBA’s leadership.
  • We invited the diversity bar associations’ presidents and presidents-elect to attend the CBA Legislative Policy Committee fall reception.
  • CBA sections and committees are working to implement diversity and inclusivity goals.
  • We are encouraging the diversity bar presidents-elect to join the Colorado contingent at the annual ABA Bar Leadership Institute in Chicago.
  • We are seeing more diverse faculty at CLE programs.
  • The CBA YLD is planning an open house event with all 28 CBA sections and the diversity bars.
  • We are now tracking demographics by asking members to voluntarily self-report when joining or renewing.
  • The CBA attends and supports the annual dinners held by each of the diversity bar associations.

The bar associations are acting now to ensure that the diverse talent of our entire community is engaged in shaping how we move forward.


CBA President Patricia M. Jarzobski can be reached at

This article first appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Diversity

Perkins Coie LLP Leads the Charge on Adoption of ABA Diversity Resolution

By Lindsey Dunn and Elizabeth Banzhoff

This past year, Perkins Coie became one of the first Denver firms to adopt ABA Resolution 113. The Resolution reiterates the importance of diversity in the legal profession and urges all legal services providers, including law firms and corporations, to expand and create opportunities for diverse attorneys.

What makes this effort different from previous diversity programs advanced by the ABA is the acknowledgement that corporate clients are supporting and, in many cases, driving diversity initiatives. The Resolution called on these clients to direct a greater percentage of the legal services they purchase to firms with diverse attorneys. The response has been resounding. General counsel from more than 20 prominent companies sent a letter to all of the Fortune 1000 companies, asking for their support in the implementation of Resolution 113. Currently, more than 50 companies have signed the “General Counsel Pledge,” including Colorado-based company EchoStar Corporation.

In the pledge, these companies state that they will request diversity information from any law firm that provides legal work or that competes to handle a matter. To facilitate this process, the ABA has provided a “Model Diversity Survey” for law firms. The Model Diversity Survey is a 15-question form designed to share consistent information and statistics related to firms’ diversity commitments as a tool for in-house counsel to use when considering diversity in deciding which firms to retain. In the survey, a law firm provides:

  • the demographic profile of its attorneys, the firm leadership and associates promoted to partners;
  • the number of diverse attorneys that left the firm and that the firm hired;
  • the number of diverse attorneys working a reduced hours schedule;
  • the demographic profile of the top 10 percent of highest compensated partners in the firm; and
  • information on the firm’s diversity initiatives.

There are some indications that the ABA has a larger vision of centralizing the information that law firms provide to their clients.

What does this mean for Denver practitioners? The effect of Resolution 113 on your practice will come when your firm seeks work from one of the increasing number of clients that promote diversity, especially those that have signed the General Counsel Pledge. The new focus on clients in Resolution 113 reflects the market’s demand for diversity. Many clients have recognized the business case for diversity and expect their lawyers to support this goal. Resolution 113 ties clients’ business needs to the legal profession’s aspirations.

At Perkins Coie, we have already seen the effects of adopting Resolution 113. The firm was urged to complete the survey by one of its clients, Mark Roellig, executive vice president and general counsel at MassMutual Financial Group. He was a signatory on the letter sent to the Fortune 1000 companies asking for their support of ABA Resolution 113. Roellig and other firm clients have encouraged and applauded Perkins Coie’s support of Resolution 113 and completion of the Model Diversity Survey. Perkins Coie has since been widely recognized for its diversity efforts by industry organizations and publications, and its joinder in support of ABA Resolution 113 is part of that commitment.

Regardless of the size of your firm, as clients increasingly recognize the business value of diversity, the expectation of incorporating diversity will be expanded to outside counsel. ABA Resolution 113 is a significant step toward acknowledging clients’ collective demand for diversity. The diversity metrics that the Model Diversity Survey attempts to standardize will become important measures that clients can rely on to evaluate a firm’s investment in diversity. As such, law firms are well-advised to join in Resolution 113 and increase their own diversity efforts.


Lindsey Dunn is a DBA YLD members and an associate in Perkins Coie’s Denver office in the Commercial Litigation practice group. Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Dunn served as a clerk for Justice Monica M. Márquez of the Colorado Supreme Court. She can be reached at 

Elizabeth M. Banzhoff is Counsel with Perkins Coie’s Intellectual Property group. Based in Denver, her practice focuses on patent infringement and other intellectual property litigation, including trademark litigation. She can be reached at

This article first appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Community, Diversity

Lawyer’s Softball League

The lawyers’ softball league returns to action June 4, with the league running Sunday mornings into August at Crestmoor Park. This is a non-competitive league, friends, family, clients, law-school chums, and complete strangers are welcome. Contact Jack Tanner for more information.

Posted in Wellness

How to Avoid Professional Burnout

By Melanie Fischer

If you wake up in the morning feeling stress, anxiety, or gloom about what the day has in store for you, you might be experiencing burnout. People can feel burnout in just about any aspect of their life. It’s possible to experience personal burnout, emotional burnout, or physical burnout. When it’s related to your job, it’s often referred to as professional burnout.

Unfortunately, professional burnout is not uncommon for lawyers in solo practice. Anyone who is bored with their job or feels dread at the beginning of every work day may be headed towards professional burnout. It’s important to notice the signs and symptoms of this type of burnout – before the situation becomes dire. In the worst-case scenario, professional burnout can lead to the collapse of a career or a business.

Following are some of the most common reasons professionals endure burnout – and some tips on how to avoid letting burnout consume the desire to move forward with your career:

Monotony. Do you feel like you’re completing the exact same task(s) every single day, and are those tasks causing you to feel bored or disinterested? If so, it may be time to vary the type of client(s) you help. While you do not have to abandon all your uninspiring clients – especially if they are reliable – adding more interesting clients or cases into the mix can help relieve your feeling of professional boredom.

Discouragement. If your firm focuses on an area of law that leaves you feeling depressed or disheartened, you might want to consider shifting your professional emphasis to clients and cases that leave you with a more positive feeling.

Isolation. Many solo attorneys work in secluded offices. While some may enjoy the solitude, others may gradually become unhappy with the lack of face-to-face interaction with professional peers. If you do not thrive in a solitary environment, you may elect to share an office with other solo attorneys. Or you may benefit from working in an office that leases executive suites to professionals in various industries.

Overworked. It’s not uncommon for solo attorneys to feel overworked. If you are a solo attorney who has too many clients, you might feel thankful that you have more work than you can handle – which is certainly better than having too little work to keep your firm open. However, being overworked can easily lead to professional burnout. As a solo attorney, it’s important to realize that you can turn down work if you cannot handle the load. You may choose to refer clients to another attorney, who may return the favor at some point in the future.

When professional burnout is left unchecked, it can have a negative impact on your professional path. Not only can it result in your having a negative attitude about your job and your career, but also it can lead to client dissatisfaction.

It’s essential to take time off, enjoy a periodic vacation, and spend time with professional peers. These outlets help to relieve stress and reduce burnout. Additionally, if you notice dissatisfaction or lack of desire to fulfill your daily professional duties, consider re-focusing the direction that your firm takes or changing the type of clients you select.

If you think you are approaching professional burnout, consider joining the YLD on April 18 from 6-8 p.m. for Changing Your Focus: How and Why Lawyers Transition Between Careers which will feature discussions about moving to solo practice, big law, government, and to in house or nontraditional attorney careers.

This post originally appeared on Solo in Colo.

Posted in Career Development, Wellness

Barristers Benefit Ball 2017: Around the World ~ April 29 @ EXDO Event Center

What is the Barristers Benefit Ball and why should I consider going?

The Barristers Benefit Ball (BBB) is a celebration of pro bono work. It is an event put on annually by the Denver Bar Foundation, and 100 percent of the proceeds help fund Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL). MVL is a pro bono program collectively sponsored by the Adams/Broomfield, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas/Elbert and First Judicial District Bar Associations. MVL’s mission is “to bridge the gap in access to justice by coordinating the provision of pro bono legal services by volunteer lawyers within the Denver Metro Area to people who could not otherwise afford legal services for their civil legal issues.” As well as a critical fundraiser for MVL, the BBB is a fun-filled evening that affords a unique opportunity to network and socialize with colleagues, bar association presidents, and judges.

What makes MVL special?

MVL was established in 1966 by a group of young lawyers. They called it the “Thursday Night Bar” because the founding attorneys met with clients every Thursday evening at the Legal Aid offices in Denver. The attorneys provided what help and advice they could in person on Thursday nights and then met the next morning to discuss clients’ matters and assign themselves cases that could not be completed during the Thursday night sessions. These lawyers’ efforts perpetuated a long tradition of volunteerism and public service by Colorado lawyers. The Thursday Night Bar was renamed in 1998 to reflect the program’s growth and expansion. MVL continues to operate out of Colorado Legal Services’ offices. The CBA still gets calls asking about the Thursday Night Bar, reflecting its longstanding popularity.

Why should I support MVL?

MVL recruits volunteers to represent a population of people who otherwise would not be able to afford legal assistance. MVL coordinates with Colorado Legal Services for the intake of cases. Over the years the program has grown and is constantly striving to serve a larger population. Today, in addition to matching clients with volunteers for their cases, MVL also runs the Family Law Court Program, Post-Decree Clinics, Power of Attorney Workshops and Legal Night at the Denver Indian Center. MVL is constantly extending its reach to increase the help it provides. The programs serve Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson and Denver counties. For more information and to sign up, visit and its Facebook page.

MVL by the numbers:

In 2016, MVL referred 492 cases to attorneys, assisted 373 people through its family law court program, assisted 297 people through clinics and helped 53 elderly persons with power of attorney documents. This amounts to 1,215 people served, all with only three full-time and two part-time employees. Still, this positive impact cannot continue without your help. The BBB is MVL’s only fundraiser.

COME ONE, COME ALL: A Trip Around the World Awaits!

Whether you are a new lawyer, or a seasoned professional, come join us at the 2017 Barristers Benefit Ball. The Ball will be commemorating its 29th year with “Around the World” to celebrate our diverse cultures and heritage. Dress to celebrate an international culture. (Black-tie attire is optional).

We will be offering food from around the world during cocktail hour. A plated dinner followed by regional desserts will finish the night in style. We are excited to be joined by the Jerry Barnett Orchestra, which has a history of keeping us on the dance floor with tunes to please all generations.

All proceeds above the cost of the event go directly to MVL. There are a variety of ways for you or your firm to participate and help raise funds for this important cause. You can purchase a table for 10 or buy individual tickets. Sponsorship opportunities at the Silver, Gold and Platinum levels are also available. To become a sponsor, contact Melissa Nicoletti at Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Even if you are unable to attend, we encourage you to purchase raffle tickets before the event for some fabulous prizes. You do not need to be present to win. A portion of your contributions are tax deductible.


This post originally appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Community

Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over — March 30

The DBA has a great program coming up on Thursday, March 30 from 12-1 p.m. at the DBA — Getting Clients – For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.

It’s always on your mind, right? “How can I get more clients?” Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, author of the new book Getting Clients – For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over has the answer. She brings over 30 years of helping lawyers to build successful practices to an hour of fast-paced tips and tricks to this lunchtime seminar designed to help you identify the perfect clients for you – and then attract them to your practice. It’s not just about economics, it’s about creating the work and the life that you crave.

Only $5 for members which includes a taco bar:)  Register today!!!

Posted in Career Development

How the Labor and Employment Landscape Might Change with the Stroke of a Pen

By Sean R. Gallagher and Mary Kapsak

President Trump has been presented with a number of regulatory issues that could change the labor and employment landscape. Congressional and administrative action is not required to effect all such changes in the way that the federal government regulates private employers. Rather, the new administration can make significant and lasting changes in employment enforcement at certain federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without congressional action. In this article, we will examine ways in which the new administration might quickly and dramatically pivot the landscape of labor and employment laws by simply changing enforcement and litigation priorities.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

Many observers expect major change at the DOL. Under new leadership, the DOL could alter course for key priorities of the prior Obama administration: the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rules, the “persuader rule” and the fiduciary duties for retirement advisors.

FLSA Overtime Rule

On May 18, 2016, the DOL published a new final rule updating the nation’s overtime regulations, which would automatically extend overtime pay protection to more than 4 million workers if fully implemented. In November 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction halting enforcement of the rule. The new administration could effectively terminate the litigation underway and end the overtime rule by withdrawing the government’s appeal, thereby leaving the lower court’s decision intact.

Mr. Puzder has expressed his dislike of the new rule and “has argued that the Obama administration’s recent rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay diminishes opportunities for workers” ( The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted an expedited appeal on the issue. The DOL, under new leadership, could reverse its position and withdraw the appeal before the court hears the oral argument. If so, the injunction would stand, and the new overtime rule would not take effect.

Persuader Rule

Similarly, the DOL currently faces an injunction barring the “persuader rule” from taking effect. The persuader rule “requires that employers and the consultants they hire file reports not only for direct persuader activities — consultants talking to workers — but also for indirect persuader activities — consultants scripting what managers and supervisors say to workers.” The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction on June 27, 2016 and a nationwide permanent injunction against the rule on November 16, 2016. The DOL can appeal the permanent injunction to the Fifth Circuit, but even if it does, the new administration will have time to withdraw the appeal before it reaches a decision by the appellate court.

Fiduciary Rule

The new administration could also change course for the DOL’s new fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisors to act in the best interest of their clients with respect to retirement accounts. The DOL issued the final rule on April 6, 2016, to be applicable on April 10, 2017. Although at the time of this writing the new Secretary of Labor has not yet voiced an opinion concerning the fiduciary rule, his general remarks about less government regulation make some experts believe the new administration “will kill or significantly weaken the fiduciary rule.” Edward Mills, an analyst at FBR & Co., “predicts the new administration will first delay the implementation of the rule through an administrative action and then repeal or overhaul it” ( Since the DOL has already issued a final rule, the new administration would have to go through the onerous public notice and comment process prior to making any changes. Although the fiduciary rule was not directly addressed during the campaign, an advisor to Mr. Trump suggested that the president could seek to reverse it. Republicans in Congress have expressed their desire to do so as well.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The new administration could appoint new OSHA leadership with officials who are less enforcement-minded. In addition, these new appointments could advocate for the adoption of less stringent regulations and could direct their focus to compliance assistance as opposed to enforcement and litigation. The Obama administration’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), launched in 2010, currently concentrates “OSHA’s resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations” ( Pursuant to the SVEP, enforcement actions for severe violator cases include, among other things, mandatory follow-up inspections, corporate-wide agreements (where appropriate) and enhanced settlement provisions ( Given President Trump’s repeated campaign promises to decrease regulation and create a “business-friendly” atmosphere, OSHA may not prioritize follow-up inspections and could impose lower fines or less severe penalties upon employers that violate the Act.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Similarly, the new administration could alter the EEOC’s current employment priorities regarding systemic discrimination, binding arbitration agreements and LGBT rights.

Systemic Discrimination Enforcement

Currently, one of the EEOC’s major priorities is to investigate and file systemic discrimination cases as a means of enhancing recoveries to larger groups ( Systemic investigations increased by 250 percent from 2011 to 2015, and the EEOC has successfully prosecuted 94 percent of its systemic lawsuits over the past ten years ( In addition, the EEOC tripled the amount of monetary relief recovered for victims of systemic discrimination between 2011 and 2015 when compared to the relief recovered from 2005 through 2010 ( However, President Trump suggested that he will also appoint individuals to the EEOC who are less concerned with investigation and enforcement and who are more focused on compliance assistance.

Binding Arbitration Agreements

The EEOC currently takes the position that forcing an employee to agree to arbitrate any discrimination claims against their employer is unlawful (See, e.g., Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. Doherty Enterprises, Inc., 126 F. Supp. 3d 1305 (S.D. Fla. 2015)). The commission’s position stems from a policy statement issued in 1997: “agreements that mandate binding arbitration of discrimination claims as a condition of employment are contrary to the fundamental principles evinced in [the employment discrimination] laws” ( In a bid to appear more “employer friendly,” the new administration may de-emphasize the EEOC’s focus on binding arbitration agreements, which would allow employers more freedom to determine the best way to resolve disputes with their employees.

LGBT Rights

The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan makes clear that applying the protections of Title VII to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is a “top Commission enforcement priority.” Over the past eight years, the EEOC’s attorneys have repeatedly litigated cases in support of this position, and have had success at the ALJ level ( For example, in Macy v. Holder, the EEOC ruled that transgender bias is a form of gender discrimination prohibited by Title VII. In addition, in Baldwin v. Foxx, the EEOC “issued an administrative opinion that held for the first time that Title VII extends to claims of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation” ( Moreover, the EEOC filed its first-ever federal court Title VII suits over transgender rights in 2015, asserting that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender stereotyping (See, e.g., EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc.). While the new administration has not made its enforcement priorities entirely clear, it is possible that the EEOC could be directed to temper its focus on LGBTQ protections in the workplace, particularly because at least one circuit court is currently considering whether Title VII’s protections apply to LGBTQ individuals.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

The NLRB has been criticized by some for being pro-union under the Obama administration, and the General Counsel of the NLRB is a key player in the agency, bringing cases to the board for consideration and guiding litigation practices ( Richard F. Griffin, Jr. (D) currently serves as the General Counsel of the NLRB, but President Trump will be able to appoint a new NLRB General Counsel in November 2017. By appointing a new General Counsel, the new administration may be able to alter litigation practices and change the national landscape for labor relations. For example, on October 3, 2016, the Office of the General Counsel asked the NLRB to clarify and broaden the protection afforded to employees who engage in strikes ( While he promised to protect jobs and workers during the election, a pro-business administration might be reluctant to pursue broad protections for unions.

In addition, President Trump might be able to appoint pro-business individuals to NLRB Board positions during his term, thereby potentially changing its composition to a more conservative tenor. The NLRB is considered an independent agency, with a traditionally bipartisan five-member board. President Trump will select individuals to fill two vacancies right away, as well as a third spot in December 2017, when the term of Republican Philip Miscimarra ends. The terms of the two current Democratic members expire in 2018 and 2019.


Sean Gallagher is a shareholder and member of Polsinelli’s Labor and Employment practice, where he assists employers in implementing proactive employment policies that help minimize the risk of litigation. He can be reached at

Mary Kapsak is an associate and member of Polsinelli’s Labor and Employment Practice, where she provides counsel and, when needed, aggressive defense in a broad range of legal services. She can be reached at This post originally appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Employment Law

Message From Your Chair Klaralee Charlton

The DBA YLD Executive Council is accepting applications for new board members from now until April 7, 2017. While the Council is an excellent opportunity to become more involved in the Bar, the selection process is competitive and the time commitment is significant. If you are not selected for a position on the Council or you simply cannot carve out the time necessary to serve on the Council, there are many other committees that need volunteers.

Check out all the DBA committees. Most of the committees do not require you to apply and be accepted in order to participate in a significant way. In fact, most are actively seeking attorneys to help plan and execute events and take on leadership positions.

For example, the Seniors Committee is eager to add a young lawyer. This committee plans four events a year and would be an excellent opportunity for a YLD member to become involved and network with seasoned practitioners. Contact Heather Folker for more info. Additionally, the Bench Bar Committee would welcome some fresh ideas from a YLD member. This committee plans events with our judicial officers throughout the year and offers the opportunity to work one on one with judges in the Denver area. Contact Juliann Tricarico for more info.

Some of our most active leaders started their Bar engagement as members of these committees. Don’t wait in silence hoping you’ll be asked to get involved. Contact me or the staff liaison listed next to each committee on the Bar’s website. We can introduce you to the chairperson of any committee and get you involved in a meaningful way.

Klaralee Charlton
Chair, DBA YLD

Posted in Career Development, Networking

Modern Law Practice Initiative — A Win-Win for Lawyers and Clients

By Erika Holmes

The CBA’s Modest Means Task Force has been renamed – the Modern Law Practice Initiative! “Why the new name?” you ask. The reason for the name change is two-fold: first, to stop the misperception that this type of law practice only helps poor people, and second, to develop a moniker for this innovative way to practice law that provides enormous benefits for both clients and attorneys.

The Modest Mean Task Force was formed in 2012 to educate lawyers and judges about the justice gap – the huge portion of society (almost 60% of civil litigants) who make too much money to get a lawyer through public assistance but don’t make enough money to hire an attorney at traditional rates. MLPI’s mission is still the same – to serve this portion of the population. However, MLPI is striving to further educate both lawyers and the public that the justice gap doesn’t consist of just people of modest means. The justice gap is comprised of people across the full spectrum of income levels, including people with middle to upper-middle class incomes. By practicing modern representation, a lawyer can run a thriving, sustainable, and fulfilling practice by providing legal services to this largely untapped market.

The Modern Law Practice Initiative is expounding on its original mission by providing lawyers with the motivation and the specific means to engage in this exciting new method of law practice management. Modern representation is about more than providing legal services at an affordable rate. Modern representation is about practicing law in a manner that is beneficial for both the client and the lawyer in terms of feasibility, flexibility, versatility – and even enjoyability! MLPI’s goal is to teach lawyers how to create a sustainable law practice that simultaneously helps solve the access to justice gap and provides the lawyer with a fulfilling and prosperous career.

Check out MLPI’s new website for access to the latest version of Successful Business Planning for the Modern Law Practice, a step-by-step guide to creating a sustainable modern law practice. MLPI will also highlight for lawyers the best resources for creating and sustaining a modern law practice through CLE’s, books, technology, mentoring, networking, volunteer opportunities, and more. Discover what it means to be a modern lawyer and to be part of a win-win solution to the access to justice dilemma!


Posted in Law Practice Management

Message from DBA YLD Executive Council Vice Chair

The DBA YLD is seeking new board members for the Executive Council. The Executive Council consists of 11 members who help serve the Denver legal community and its members. Council members identify new strategies to engage the legal community and organize networking events, CLE’s and other opportunities for young lawyers. This includes developing new ideas, marketing and communicating, coordinating with other bar sections, promoting the YLD and assisting other young attorneys in our community. Council members are required to attend monthly board meetings at 6 p.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Denver Bar Association offices. In addition, members attend various DBA YLD events throughout the year and commit to serving a three-year term.

Interested persons are strongly encouraged to attend the next Council meeting on March 8th at 6pm. Applications, including a current résumé and a letter of interest detailing the applicant’s relevant experience and characteristics including why these qualities would make them a valuable addition to the Council, should be submitted to Jim Fogg and Heather Folker by Friday, April 7. To be eligible you must be a current Denver Bar member, and under the age of 37 or within your first five years of practice.

Do not hesitate to reach out to Jim Fogg, Heather Folker, or any member of the current Executive Council with questions regarding the position or time commitment.

Jim Fogg
DBA YLD Executive Council Vice Chair

Posted in DBA YLD News

Why I Volunteer with MVL

By Steve Cook

I genuinely believe that the more we give, the happier we feel. When we are doing good for others and the community, it provides a natural sense of accomplishment that instills a sense of pride and identity. However, by volunteering with MVL, we really do accomplish another goal: the strengthening of our community.

Parents who are receiving timely child support are obviously better equipped to care for their children financially. That in turn decreases their stress and makes them better parents emotionally. They will be more likely to be happier at work and more responsible for their physical health.

Parents who are able to have a physical connection and parenting time with their children are less likely to abandon their responsibilities as caregivers for their children. Theoretically, that will decrease the likelihood that those children will act up at school or engage in hurtful behaviors toward themselves and others.

Since we all live here, we are all impacted by our neighbors’ misfortunes, problems and other challenges. We can improve the quality of life for the less fortunate among us with a small commitment to use our legal expertise to assist them in addressing their problems in a pro bono capacity. While the work can be challenging, such challenges are outweighed by the reward of seeing someone motivated by the eased financial or emotional tension in their life and the newfound opportunities that lie before them.

Steve Cook of Smith and Cook LLC is on the Metro Volunteers Lawyers Board. He can be reached at This post originally appeared in The Docket.


Posted in Volunteering

Don’t Let Life Pass You By

By Sarah Myers

Your Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program (COLAP) is happy to announce our new COLAP Wellness Corner in The Docket. You will now find in every issue an article with simple yet thoughtful advice about how to reduce your stress levels and increase your life satisfaction.

The New Year has come and gone, and we are well into 2017. How has it been for you so far? Are your experiences fulfilling, emotions hopeful and positive, and accomplishments making you proud? Do you enjoy the time you spend with others? Or have you been a bit anxious and overwhelmed, with too much to do and not enough time to do it? Maybe it’s a matrix of these feelings. Life is busy these days, and many attorneys report that they feel as if life were passing them by.

Sometimes we experience anxiety over cases, working with difficult people, dealing with large workloads and worrying about the future. Sometimes we feel depressed and isolated because we don’t have the support we need to be effective in our personal or professional lives, or because our workload has been too slow for a while. Sometimes we just feel overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility on our shoulders, or the amount of tasks we have to accomplish in a day. Regardless of the reason, when we feel stressed, anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy the present moment, and life does seem to pass us by.

Research in neuroscience suggests that engaging in mindfulness meditation, breathing techniques, mantras, and exercise, such as yoga, helps relax the brain and the body, reduce stress levels, and increase overall happiness levels. Studies also suggest practicing more gratitude, listening to fun or calming music, having pets, gardening, and cultivating meaningful relationships with friends and family to improve your health and wellbeing. Improving our diets and moving around more throughout the day can also help shift our body’s chemistry to improve our life experiences. Most of us have heard about ways by which we can take better care of ourselves, but are we taking the time to do them?

The quickest and simplest way to reduce your stress and increase satisfaction with your life is to slow down — your thoughts, movements, speech, decision making, etc. When we slow down the “momentum train,” we can discern what is best for us. (What kind of food does your body really want or need?) We can choose more helpful thoughts that lift our mood rather than bring it down by focusing on resources and solutions rather than on the problem itself. We can respond civilly to the people around us rather than succumb to the emotional excesses of a survival mentality. Slowing down allows us to behave with maturity, grace and wisdom. The people you respect the most are probably people who, despite being in difficult or stressful situations, respond with these qualities to the world around them. Research shows that people who are the most well-liked aren’t necessarily those who are the most intelligent, the most attractive or even the most gregarious. People who are sincere, consistent and compassionate rank as the most likeable. To be consistent in our moods and behaviors so that people feel safe around us, to be sincere and honest with those around us, and to show understanding and compassion rather than judgment of others, we have to slow down and contemplate our words and actions.

Mindlessly operating in the “rat race” and spending more time with our technology than the people around us doesn’t endear other people to us — and certainly doesn’t make us feel proud of ourselves. Life doesn’t pass us by when we slow down to appreciate the people or the things in our lives for which we are grateful. The stressful cases, the difficult clients, the massive to-do lists and the glitches along the way that interrupt our plans aren’t going to disappear. If, however, we learn how to handle life’s ups and downs with more patience and dignity, we can learn to enjoy more of the ride. Carve out some time in every day to slow down and breathe mindfully and purposefully. Think about the big picture rather than the details of what you are doing and give yourself a pep talk. Things always get better when we shift our perspective because the parts of the brain focused on survival can calm down long enough for the parts of the brain responsible for happiness, joy and overall life satisfaction to take over. So hurry up and slow down — the sooner, the better.


Sarah Myers, J.D., L.M.F.T., L.A.C., is the clinical director for the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program (COLAP) and can be reached at COLAP provides free and confidential services for judges, lawyers and law students. If you need resources for any issue that is compromising your ability to be a productive member of the legal community, or if there is someone you are concerned about, contact COLAP at 303-986-3345. For more information about COLAP, visit This post originally appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Wellness

Beyond the Safety Pin: How To Be an Active Ally

By Jill Mullen

In late November, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report called “Ten Days.” The document noted there were more than 900 reports of harassment or intimidation in the 10 days following Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president, a situation that the Law Center considered “a national outbreak of hate.” In Colorado, people have taken to Facebook and other social media outlets to bring attention to local instances of vandalism and bullying. A transgender woman in Capitol Hill woke up one morning to find her car covered in swastikas and derogatory terms. An African-American woman said her daughter heard a student boast, “now that Trump is president, I am going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find.” Learning about these incidents is painful and disheartening.

On a cold November evening, the South Asian Bar Association hosted a presentation titled “Beyond the Safety Pin: How To Be An Active Ally” with speakers from nonprofit and legal organizations. The event drew a large crowd of concerned and anxious lawyers. It was clear there was a prevalent sentiment that lawyers could do something to discredit or prevent this hate speech. However, there was some disagreement as to the best approach.

Acting U.S. Attorney for Colorado Robert Troyer had some consoling observations to allay anxiety about the direction of the new administration. Troyer explained that all 93 U.S. attorneys work autonomously, giving them considerable latitude when enforcing laws in their states. Therefore, a change in president or attorney general will have little effect on how each individual U.S. attorney chooses to enforce the law. Troyer promised to enforce all laws protecting civil liberties and affirmed he would not be persuaded to pursue a case he considered to be illegal or discriminatory, even if there was external pressure. As he sees it, the Rule of Law will always safeguard the ideals we hold immutable.

Another speaker, Tim Brauhn, an interfaith community leader and the communications manager for the Islamic Network Group, gave a humorous and insightful presentation on how to defuse tense situations. His first piece of advice: It never helps to call someone a bad person. In essence, you will not convince a white supremacist to stop being a white supremacist with New York Times articles and public shaming on Facebook. Brauhn says a better way to handle hateful situations is to change the conversation. For example, Brauhn recently visited a friend in Chicago. While he was at a grocery store, a drunk man started verbally harassing a woman. Brauhn quickly interrupted to ask the man whether he might be able to give directions to the baseball field. Clearly caught off guard, the man stopped yelling and started pointing directions. (Brauhn added that they were wrong.) While this might be not an intuitive response to such a situation, Brauhn says it works.

Finally, Suneeta Hazra, the chief of the Criminal Division of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office, offered some legal advice for dealing with confrontations. First, she encouraged everyone to report to local law enforcement any actions that might be considered a hate crime. If law enforcement is not helpful, inform the FBI. Additionally, always keep all evidence; your determination of what might be relevant might differ from the FBI’s. And it never hurts to report, as some acts that might not necessarily be considered hate crimes could potentially amount to criminal activity under a different federal statute.

Local bar associations will continue to help as much as possible. But, increasingly, it appears we may be entering a presidency requiring the judicial branch to (begrudgingly) take a larger role in political battles. Since Trump’s election seems to be the catalyst for a surge in hate crimes, the courts may take on a role as more of a moral arbitrator. When courts condemn these actions, it will hopefully send a message that bigoted and racist behavior is not to be tolerated. And it would be heartening to see more news coverage of small acts of kindness as opposed to reports of hateful conduct.


Jill Mullen works in the legislature as the Civic Engagement Director for the Colorado Senate Democrats. She earned her J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and her B.A. from New York University. Jill is also a DBA YLD Council member. She can be reached at This post originally appeared in The Docket.

Posted in Community, Professionalism

Toothbrushes for Tots Drive Starts Next Week!

The DBA YLD is sponsoring a Toothbrush Drive to benefit Kids In Need of Dentistry (KIND). KIND is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality, affordable dental care to children in need throughout Colorado. We are looking for firms to collect toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. All donations will be picked up the week of Feb. 27. Sign up your firm to collect donations today. Click here for a flyer. Questions? Contact Robin Hoogerhyde.


Posted in Community

Why the Centennial State is Perfect in the Millennial World

A Brief History of LGBT Rights in Colorado — This blog post is a reflection from two different view points, on our Jan. 26 Coffee Talk about LGBT Rights in Colorado that was presented by Former Senator Pat Steadman.

By Maha Kamal and Ronnie Walls:

In 1991, I was a kindergartner. I liked wearing polka dot skirts with leggings, or the occasional pants with suspenders. Looking back on it, my post-tyke fashion was pretty androgynous for a 6-year old. Meanwhile, Wilma Webb was in the Colorado State Legislature introducing a bill to add sexual orientation to the state’s hate crimes law. It would take 14 years after her bill was introduced for the legislation to pass in 2005.

The next year, in 1992, I learned about the Aztecs, raised butterflies, and enthusiastically cheered on the election of Bill Clinton. It was pretty impressive for a second grader. Meanwhile, Colorado voters approved Amendment II, which banned the enacting of any law or policy that provided Coloradans protection based on their sexual orientation.

In 1996, I was drawing my own book about the history of Colorado in fourth grade. That same year, Amendment II was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans. It was a landmark victory for the LGBT movement. If I had known, I’m pretty sure I would have drawn another page in my book to mark the occasion.

In the 1990s, Colorado really was growing up a lot like I was, with its own legislative let downs, achievements, and the occasional grounding from its parents (See Romer v. Evans).


First, let me begin by stating that I’m a Denver transplant.  I traded the beaches of Miami for the mountains of Denver and have not looked back.  Denver consistently graces the top of many “best places to live” rankings, specifically for Millennials.  Denver has plenty of sunshine, vast green spaces, and dynamic cultures that influence everything from the arts to the local cuisine.  I now regret the many years that I spent without green chili.  However, it was not until this particular event that I truly saw what made me appreciate Denver, and the great state of Colorado:  its continuous march for equality.

As a former Legislative Aide, I have run the gambit of listening to legislators speak.  Senator Pat Steadman is the embodiment of a dynamic speaker:  his neighbor next door approach eloquently combines the history of an advocate, colored with kindness, to tell the tale of the journey of LGBT rights across Colorado.  His timeline of events was not presented by a reciter of facts, but rather told through the sparkling eyes of someone who served on the front lines, who lobbied at the Capitol, and who testified before his fellow legislators.  


As I sat and listened to Senator Steadman’s lecture, I began to appreciate how truly historic the LGBT rights movement was in this state during a time period that I was too young to appreciate its significance. Conservatives, like Marilyn Musgrave, introduced bills to limit marriage to one man and one woman. She also fought to ban same-sex parents on birth certificate, and won. Liberals, like Senator Steadman and Wilma Webb, did the complete opposite and were often faced with hostile governors or unwilling voters.

But things started to change in the early 2000s. Colorado began recognizing LGBT rights in employment, adoption, and hate crime laws. By 2011, it had recognized civil unions too. The pinnacle of this movement is arguably the issuance of the Windsor (2013) and Obergefell (2015) opinions, which struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act and legalized same-sex marriage.

The Senator’s lecture stopped in 2016, with he introduced one of his last bills to address legal issues for those who had civil unions and later married. The lecture stopped and left us thinking about the future, particularly in the context of the Trump administration. Would the Supreme Court overturn its opinion about same-sex marriage? Would Colorado see a new wave of conservative legislation, echoing the legislative let downs of the 1990s? Would we be okay?

The Senator didn’t have a single answer for such loaded questions. One could hardly blame him. He dedicated his political life to implementing legal rights for Colorado’s LGBT community. And now he, like many others, are faced with uncertainty as to the future of these rights.


As the floor opened for questions, the conversation quickly turned to our post-election era.  How do we as everyday citizens, attorneys, and voters continue to impact our communities?  The desire to bring positive change to our environment is notably highlighted as a defining characteristic of the Millennial Generation. 

 Senator Steadman’s solution:  be present. 

 Tell your story, be proud of who you are, connect with your communities.  Whether you are a gay attorney, a biracial child, or you trace your roots to our founding fathers, raise your voice.  It is out of our shared experiences that we will find understanding and ultimately, the ability to continue to move forward as a community, a state, and a nation.

 I grew up in a small Midwestern town; an ordinary town that prides itself on waving to strangers.  I am also the child of an international adoption, an event that was unique to my town.  Thankfully, I grew up in a supportive environment.  My experiences led me to Family Law.  What I find encouraging is that Colorado has a rich history of fighting for the rights of all families.  Senator Steadman reminded us that the conversation in our country has evolved:  we value families and their core rights as Americans.  We must continue to write our country’s history with the brushstrokes of empathy and understanding.  Thank you Senator Steadman for reminding the legal world that our country and its laws are a living and breathing entity; that every voice matters.



Ronnie Walls, Former Senator Pat Steadman, and Maha Kamal

Maha and Ronnie are partners at The Colorado Family Law Project.  They left big firm life to bring affordable and quality family law services across Colorado



Posted in Diversity

Establishing a Strategic Plan for Your Balanced Legal Career — Workshop, Feb. 15

Don’t miss this unique workshop organized by the CBA’s Balanced Legal Career Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the DBA. In this interactive workshop, private practice lawyers will envision and begin formulating a strategic plan to achieve a balanced legal career.

Recognizing that everyone has a different definition of what a balanced legal career is, Kirby Gamblin Joseph, Managing Partner, Joseph Law Firm and President of Strategy4Success, will guide participants through a structured process that focuses on mission, vision, and firm culture, and establishes a framework for taking control of your practice.

You will also have the opportunity to hear from several seasoned practitioners from a variety of law firm settings about how they have achieved their own balanced careers.

Click here for more information and to register.

Posted in Life Work Balance