The 2018 Docket Arts & Literature Contest

It’s that time of year again – Get ready to ignite your creative spark! The 2018 Docket Arts & Literature Contest is accepting submissions from April 15 until midnight on June 30. The contest includes both writing and visual categories, as well as multiple age divisions, as described in further detail below.

Writing Category Guidelines: Submissions in writing categories should not exceed 1,500 words.

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry

Visual Category Guidelines: Digital file submissions are preferred.  Please describe the scale of the work and include several photos when necessary. For photography submissions, please explain how the shot was obtained, as well as any post-production (such as Photoshop). Images of submissions should be high-resolution quality. Painting can incorporate watercolors and oil/acrylic/mixed media.

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Mixed Media
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
  • Digital Art

In all categories, the subject matter is open to the artist’s choice — no legal content is required!

All DBA members are eligible, except for members of the Docket Committee and their families. Members’ immediate families are also invited to enter.

Artists may enter up to 5 previously unpublished works in multiple categories.

To submit:

  1. Online
  2. Email: Send this form and a photo of your art, or copy of the writing entry to Clair Smith at Please include the artist’s name and category in the subject line.
  3. Mail: Send this form and a photo of your art, or copy of the writing entry to The Denver Bar Association, Attn: Clair Smith, 1900 Grant St., Suite 900, Denver, CO 80203.

Winners will be featured in the October/November issue of the Docket, and honored at a reception in October.

Modern Law Practice Initiative Book Club

What the heck is modern representation? In a nutshell, modern representation is a way to practice law that is a win-win for clients and lawyers. And the CBA’s Modern Law Practice Initiative (MPLI) is here to teach you how to do it!

The mission of MLPI is to revolutionize the legal profession by enhancing access to innovative, client-driven, and cost-effective legal services that empower lawyers to build thriving law practices. Modern representation simultaneously solves two urgent problems in the legal world – clients aren’t hiring lawyers because they believe they can’t afford them and lawyers need paying clients to have a successful practice. Modern representation makes both of these things possible by recreating how legal services are offered through alternative fee arrangements and reforming firm logistics with technology, office space, work-life blend, and more!

How do I become a modern lawyer? MLPI makes it easy! We published a step-by-step guide called Successful Business Planning for the Modern Law Practice. Chapter by chapter you will learn the nuts and bolts of how to start your own modern law practice (or convert the one you already have)! Topics focus on practical aspects such as creating a budget, marketing, client intake, engagement agreements, pricing, technology, office space, ethics, and staffing.  What’s more, we bring the guide to life through the MLPI Book Club, which meets once a month to discuss each chapter with lawyers practicing modern representation in different practice areas. The Book Club meets the last Thursday of every month from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the CBA office located at 1900 Grant Street, Suite 900, Denver, Colorado 80203. We even provide beer, wine, soda, and delicious snacks!

Wanna know more? To learn more about the Modern Law Practice Initiative and modern representation, visit our website, check out our article in the Colorado Lawyer, contact our CBA liaisons Joanne Cresbassa and Kathleen Schoen, or reach out to our chair Erika Holmes. Join the revolution and discover the win-win for clients and YOU!

Our next meeting
This month the MLPI Book Club will be covering Chapter 4: Getting Competent and Practicing Law from the Successful Business Planning for the Modern Law PracticeTopics will include getting familiar with procedural processes, honing your practice skills, and empathizing with clients.

Come meet with other lawyers to learn how modern representation can help increase your knowledge within a particular area of law, on April 26 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the CBA offices (Terrace Room). There will be wine, beer, and light snacks for your enjoyment!


Get to Know Your DBA YLD Chair: Jim Fogg

Jim, a Colorado native, always knew that he wanted to be a lawyer. His dad is a lawyer, so he grew up learning about the legal profession and learning that it was (at its core) a profession about helping people. He was interested in what being a lawyer actually meant at the end of the day. Helping people provides Jim with a motivating factor, other than money, to not only come to work but to work hard.”

According to Jim, “It would be difficult to go to work every day if the bottom line was to make money. Although being an attorney is an extremely difficult career path, the hard work that is required is worth it because I know that I am making a difference in someone else’s life. I am interacting with folks at the worst time of their life. Being able to help them navigate their problems and shoulder their problems is obviously stressful, but motivating. The core idea that I am helping people makes it easy to work the long hours.”

The fact that his skill set is attuned to writing and reasoning instead of math and science only pushed him toward degrees that lent themselves to law. Jim joined his high school mock trial team, pursued a degree in environmental studies and eventually worked for a law firm in college, which affirmed that he would enjoy the challenges and clients that a profession in law presents. Yet, if you asked 1L Jim what field he would be entering, he would have said environmental law.

So how does one switch from environmental law to business litigation, malpractice, and trust and estate law? Jim equates this change to his mock trial experiences. Since his first practices in high school, he learned that he loved the thrill of arguing in the courtroom, meeting with his mentor attorneys, making directs, playing a witness and even presenting an opening without practice (since another member ditched a competition). The trial team in law school reaffirmed his love for mock trial. Even though he pursued opportunities with both environmental law and trial litigation in mind, Jim decided at the end of the day that arguing in a courtroom was more exciting for him and he would be able to directly help clients.
However, entering the “real world” was still difficult. Even with his courtroom experience, academia did not prepare him for the challenging transition into a career. Within academia, Jim only had to worry about the consequences of his actions. Working with clients meant that his actions affected others, a stressful and challenging idea to come to grips with right out of law school. Although working with clients provides deep satisfaction and motivates him to work hard, he realizes that it is difficult to transition out of law school.
As the Chair of the DBA YLD, Jim knows that the world seems much bigger and more complex after leaving law school because he underwent that transition as well. Navigating the legal community is challenging, but he wants the DBA and DBA YLD to help young attorneys get adjusted to the legal community. He enjoys getting to know people who are going through this transition and helping them because by doing so, Jim is giving back to the community as a whole. By finding ways to make the process easier and sharing ideas on how to navigate the legal community successfully, Jim hopes to make an imprint on the Colorado legal community and make it more inclusive to newly admitted attorneys.

His advice for young attorneys:
1. Find a regimen or routine that works for you because routines make things easier. Once you understand that baseline routine, realize that there will be periods when your routine goes out the window. So work hard, knowing that you’ll be able to slow down and regain that routine.
2. Reach out to more experienced attorneys and ask how they balanced the transition from law student to lawyer.
3. Take all the advice you can get but use your own judgment to decide which advice is good or bad.
4. Have fun. Enjoy being an attorney.

Finally, find time to pursue other hobbies. In his spare time, you may find Jim running with Gus the Aussie-doodle, fly-fishing, attempting to play golf or traveling with his wife, Becca. Yet no matter if Jim is in court or fly-fishing or practicing his golf swing, he always wants to help young attorneys. Jim is always looking for feedback on how to make the DBA YLD better for its members. Whether it is having more events to enhance skills or simply network, Jim wants to help young attorneys with the transition into the “real world.”

Hopefully, when asked, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”, even if you do not know the answer, you will know that the DBA YLD can provide the resources to help you get there.

Make an IMPACT with Metro Volunteer Lawyers

Want to make a difference in the Denver community, but not sure how to get started? Use your legal background for good with the Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL)! There are currently 5 different programs you can get involved with at different levels: Referrals, the Family Law Court Program, Post-Decree Clinics, the Legal Clinic and the Denver Indian Center, and the Power of Attorney Workshop. Through these programs, 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.”

Why Help?

  • Helping MVL clients is a rewarding way to serve the needs of the less fortunate in your community, helping work towards our constitutional mandate of providing equal justice under the law.
  • Advancing the reputation of the legal profession.
  • Obtaining practical legal experience.
  • Fulfilling your professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least fifty hours of pro bono public legal services per year. Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1.
  • You can receive CLE credits for pro bono work. Under C.R.C.P. 260.8, Colorado attorneys providing uncompensated pro bono legal representation may apply for 1 general CLE credit for every 5 billable-equivalent hours of representation, up to a maximum of 9 credits in each 3 year compliance period. Download the application form HERE.
  • MVL provides attorneys with malpractice insurance for the cases they take through our organization.

Volunteering with MVL’s Family Law Court Program is a tremendous way to assist clients for one morning and/or afternoon, without agreeing to take on a case full-on. You can even sign-up just to observe until you are comfortable enough to provide legal assistance. Find out more info HERE.

MVL is currently in need of volunteer attorneys to take pro bono and low-fee cases- there are currently 20 family law cases for referral that need your help!

Third Annual Ski CLE

On March 24th, members of the DBA and DBA YLD participated in our third annual Ski CLE at A-Basin! Check out the fun!

See you there next year!

How To Get A “Great” Legal Job

By Adam Gropper

Law school teaches you a unique way of analytical thinking.  This way of thinking is useful for lawyers grappling with legal issues, and may help you get through law school and pass the bar, but it

is often paralyzing when deciding what type of law you want to practice and how best to pursue rewarding career opportunities in that field.  Enter What They Don’t Teach You in Law School — How to Get a Job.  In his new bestselling book, author Adam Gropper, explains how you can take off your law student hat and use a different approach when career planning.  The book lays out the following six step process to not only help you determine what the ideal job is, but also help you define and navigate the path to its attainment.

  1. Develop a Plan and Commit to it

At the heart of your plan should be those activities that will enable you to engage with the people who can provide you with information, insight, and perspective regarding the various areas of practice.  You’ll want to talk to and interact with the people who have “been there” and “done that.”  Doing so will help you get a better feeling about the people with whom you want to work, the type of work in which you want to be engaged, and the practice areas that offer the greatest potential for growth—personally, professionally, and financially.

  1. Choose a Major

Choose a field of interest and perhaps a sub-specialty in an area in which you have some interest and where there is a demand.  This is often a difficult (and time-consuming) step for law students who are being taught to think like a lawyer—to approach every problem from all angles, examining all possibilities.  There is no “right” or “wrong” decision.  Pick an area for which you have the greatest affinity.

  1. Network Effectively

Meet with attorneys who are practicing in your areas of interest and are willing to discuss their experiences.  At these meetings, you can learn what they do, what they find interesting or challenging about their jobs, what experiences and background would be helpful, and what skills are required to succeed.  And, you can discover the types of opportunities that are available in the practice area.

  1. Think Like an Employer When Building Your Brand

Advice given to law school students about how to obtain a great legal job typically revolves around getting good grades, obtaining relevant experience, and networking with knowledgeable and influential people.  That’s not bad advice, just incomplete.

In order to “market” yourself to a potential employer in a given practice area, you must understand the challenges and goals of the employers operating in that area. Your accomplishments may be important to you, but they will only be important to potential employers if there is a clear connection between those accomplishments and the desired outcomes of the potential employers.  Your cover letter, your resume, and if you’re fortunate enough to be invited in for an interview, your conversation with the interviewer must reinforce that connection.

  1. Become an Expert on the Employer

While thinking like an employer will more favorably position you to market yourself, you must also learn everything you can about a potential employer.  You must have a clear understanding of the results the employer is seeking and the resources it needs to attain those results.

Investing the time to research the employer and reach out to people who can provide some perspective will pay substantial dividends.  You are more likely to be hired if an employer feels that you understand its culture, objectives, challenges, frustrations, and goals.

  1. Focus on the Plan, Not the Outcome

Play the long game.  Don’t be distracted by apparent victories or apparent defeats.  Everyone, including the top students in your class, is going to get rejection letters.  Don’t let it get you down when it happens.  Don’t dwell on either positive or negative thoughts.  To prepare for the inevitable twists and turns of your job searching process, remain committed to your plan even when you question your own assumptions.  And most importantly, be persistent.

Adam Gropper is the #1 bestselling author of What They Don’t Teach You in Law School—How to Get a Job and bestselling author of Making Partner: The Essential Guide to Negotiating the Law School Path and Beyond.  Adam is also the founder of  He can be contacted at

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Karaoke Night with the Law Club of Denver — April 4

The Law Club of Denver invites the members of the DBA YLD to join them at karaoke night on Wednesday, April 4, at Armida’s (840 Lincoln St.) from 6-9pm.  Come and sing to your heart’s content and learn about the Law Club!

The Law Club of Denver is a musical/theatre group of lawyers and judges in the Denver area.  Among other things, we produce the Denver and Boulder Ethics Revue CLEs each Fall.  The Law Club is a fun group of legal professionals and a great networking opportunity for lawyers of all ages.

Appetizers and your first drink are on the Law Club. Questions? Email

Toothbrush Drive — March 5 through 16

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 March 23.

Sign up your firm today!

DBA YLD and CJI Reception at Sherman & Howard – March 15

So much of what we do as lawyers depends on the effective, efficient, and fair operation of the Colorado Courts. But, preserving and enhancing the integrity of our Courts takes work. That is why we are inviting you—the lawyers who will lead the Colorado bar into the future—to come learn more about an organization dedicated to protecting and improving our Courts: the Colorado Judicial Institute.

Please join CJI and the DBA YLD at a free reception hosted by Sherman & Howard L.L.C. on Feb. 1, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Several members of Colorado’s judiciary will be in attendance and Colorado Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Gabriel will speak briefly about the importance of CJI’s work and how attorneys can get involved. Come mingle and learn how to become more involved in the Colorado legal community!

Thursday, March 15
6–7:30 p.m.
FREE for all DBA Members



Denver Mock Trial Volunteers Needed, Feb. 9 and 10!!!

The Denver Bar Associations’ High School Mock Trial Program is an excellent opportunity to be involved in a rewarding and fun learning experience for our young people. This can only happen with hundreds of attorney, judicial, paralegal and community volunteers assisting.  Please consider being a part of this incredible educational experience for the high school students of our state by volunteering in one of the following capacities (each a 3 to 4 hour time commitment):

Presiding Judge: This volunteer role is a current or retired Colorado Judge or an expert mock trial volunteer. During the competition the presiding judge acts as the voice of the panel, controls the conduct of the courtroom and trial participants, and supervises the time constraints imposed by the rules of competition. The presiding judge rules on motions and objections based on the rules of evidence. The presiding judge does not announce a verdict on the legal merits of the case, but in all other respects conducts the trial as if it were a real trial.

Scoring Panelist: Three attorneys, paralegals or community members comprise the scoring panel. The score is based on presentation and not on the legal merits of the team’s case. A scoresheet is completed.                

Courtroom Monitor: This individual normally is a member of the public, employed at the courthouse, or any other volunteer that doesn’t wish to score or judge a round. This is a very important role for a smooth tournament overall.

Denver City & County Bldg. February 9-10. Sign up here.

Micro Volunteer Opportunities

Inspire the Next Generation of Attorneys

Every year, the DBA’s Lawyers in Schools Committee presents at Denver area elementary schools on legal topics ranging from Colorado Law and the Constitution to Immigration and Human Rights. The Committee is seeking 2-3 young attorneys to participate in one or more of the presentations. Dates and times are flexible. Contact Carolyn at for more information.


Reading Partner Teams Needed for Spring Session

School is back in session and Reading Partners needs more readers or teams of readers for the spring semester. The DBA Lawyers in Schools Committee understands that students must be proficient readers in order to succeed later in life. Reading Partners matches students with adults who meet with them weekly to improve their reading skills. Adult readers need no formal teaching experience. Attorneys may team up with a partner to reduce the time commitment. Here is a list of Schools and Times that need adult readers. Contact Alaina at for more information or to sign up.



6 Tips to Make a Great Impression as a Young Lawyer

By Christian Denmon

Congratulations! Law school is in the rearview mirror, countless hours of studying for the BAR are over, the test results are in, and you’re ready to join your first law firm as a full fledged lawyer. It’s difficult enough to land a position in an already competitive field, but how does one stand out and gain the attention of the firm’s partners?

In order to grow and move up in the firm, as well as in the industry in general, a young lawyer needs to leave an impactful and lasting positive impression on the firm and it’s partners. Once you’re “tagged” as a rising talent in the firm, opportunities begin to manifest, networking becomes easier, and the path to making partner becomes clearer. Here are six great tips on how to set yourself up for success and make a great impression as a young lawyer.

Give, Give, Give

No, you don’t need to get coffee for the partners every morning for a month…that’s not the type of giving we are referring to. Rather, find ways to give your time to others in the firm. By showing that you are eager and willing to learn and help in any area of the firm, you’ll stand out as a team player and someone who is dependable when some extra manpower is necessary. Assisting on case prep or written statements as a new lawyer can open the door to a lawyer bringing you on their next case and subsequent ones to follow.

Offer Up Your Unique Skills

It’s safe to say that young lawyers are most often going to fall into the “millennial” age group. While you most likely don’t have the skills and experience to jump right into a case when you join the firm, there is one skill that you’ll almost certainly have a greater knowledge of than the rest of the firm. Online marketing, social media, review sites, and more are all areas that are vital to the success of a law firm in the 21st century, so offer up your knowledge to help develop the firm’s digital presence and generate new leads.

Set SMART Goals

The SMART acronym for goal setting stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timed. A law firm is not going to expect you to be trial ready on your first day at the office. What they will expect, is someone who is ready to grow professionally in the legal field. By having concise goals in place for learning and development at the firm, you’ll display the eagerness and productivity that the firm desires in its new lawyers.

Be Willing to “Go the Distance”

As you begin to meet with potential clients and learn more about their legal troubles, it’s important to only take on cases that you’ll put your full-fledged effort into. These clients, regardless of what their case may be, are turning to you to help them understand the legalities of their case, as well as how to choose a lawyer to represent them. New lawyers that are fresh out of law school are often faced with a hefty student loan bill, which can lead them to go on a “money grab” and take any and every case they can get their hands on. Unless you’re certain that your knowledge and available time and effort are more than enough to handle the caseload, it’s best to pass on taking the case.

As a young lawyer, it’s important that each case you take on is going to be handled professionally and thoroughly, as if the reputation of the entire firm rests on your case. Partners will take note of your attentiveness to details, as well as your commitment to the case and the client.

Learn to Speak to Your Audience

In law school, would you send an email to the dean in the same tone that you’d use when emailing a classmate? The same principal applies once you’ve landed a position in a law firm. Understanding the corporate structure of the firm will help you craft communications that will fulfill the needs of the person you are reporting to. A senior partner may only want to hear or read key details of a case, while an associate level attorney may be looking for more thorough and well-detailed explanation. By learning how to tailor your communications throughout the firm, you’ll be known as the “new lawyer that we never have to ask for clarification,” and that’s a good thing!

Dress/Act/Speak for Success

 Whether at the law firm’s office, the courthouse, or a meeting with a client, you’ll be expected (and judged) on your level of professionalism. From how you dress, to how you spend your day, to how you comb your hair, a new lawyer must surround themselves with an air of professional confidence that is right up there with the senior partners. Small things, like limiting the time spent browsing social media, addressing superiors properly, and prompt arrivals for meetings and hearings will all help you stand out as a young lawyer in a new firm.

As you get your feet wet in the legal industry, it’s important to always think about your professional demeanor and what sort of impression it will leave on those that you work with, network with, or even try a case against. While you are a part of a law firm, each lawyer also acts as an independent agent of the firm, so reputation is everything if you’d like to grow your book of clients. Follow these six tips on how to leave a lasting impression as you begin your career as a lawyer, and success should follow. Good luck!


Bench Bar Courtroom Chat: Seamless Transitions

By Gwen Abler

Courtroom Chats are a talk led by various judges once a month; we get their inside look at a courtroom. We met last week in a small and cozy setting (with food), and Judges Morris Hoffman and David Goldberg talked about transitioning dockets, and how attorneys can make that transition easier.

Colorado courts are different from most states in that judges switch dockets every couple of years, transitioning from criminal cases to civil cases to divorce to domestic. They call it a “breath of fresh air” and it helps keep their mind sharp when it comes to increasing their knowledge pool. Yet it can be difficult for judges to relearn a new area of law. Here’s what attorneys can do to make it easier for the judges, their clients, and themselves.

Judges appreciate bench briefs and defining the case. Often we get too bogged down in the details of the case, ignoring the big picture and what the clients (and attorney) are trying to achieve. If you need a status conference, it is okay to ask! If you are having difficulty uncovering the facts of the case, it is okay to explain that to the judge! If you would like performance reviews after the trial is over, it is okay to ask! Long story short, judges are likely to be accommodating towards you if make any issues known and reach out (but don’t expect that trial date to be moved!)

The biggest piece of advice was to STAY ORGANIZED! Know the correct law, don’t recite your direct or cross off of your phone, keep your trial documents organized, label your exhibits. These small things go a long way in the eyes of your judges! If you’re not in court that often (civil attorneys, I’m looking at you), watch some cases before you head to court. Know your judge, know if they like the litany of explaining Rules of Evidence line by line or if they will let your evidence in easily. Your reputation precedes you in the courtroom – judges talk – and these small things will make your day in court easier for you and your judge.

Although some of these things may seem like common sense, judges see hundreds of cases, and many lawyers who DO read off of their phones, do not label their exhibits, and leave their desk a mess. Make yourself stand out (in a positive way) and they will be more accommodating for you as well! And remember, every client deserves their day in court. Make that day count by being prepared, professional, polite, and organized. Your client AND your judge will thank you.

The DBA’s Bench Bar Courtroom Chats is an ongoing series meeting the second Thursday of each month. These “Chats” are an opportunity for attorneys to meet and talk with a different Denver judge each month, in an informal environment about various topics of interest, while also networking with other Denver attorneys.  Join us for our next one on Nov.9. 


Lawyer Well-Being: Creating A Movement To Improve The Legal Profession

Challenge, change and uncertainty are the new norm in today’s legal profession. Busy lawyers are maxed out as they deal with the stress and pressure of a demanding profession, and law firms and organizations are looking for new strategies to attract and retain top talent. Lawyers just out of law school are expected to be “practice ready,” and the expectation is that they will be both capable technicians and ready to solve clients’ complex problems by collaborating with other professionals in an innovative way.

In addition to the business-related pressures, many lawyers are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. A 2016 study sponsored by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation surveying nearly 13,000 currently practicing attorneys found the following:

  • 21-36% of lawyers qualify as problem drinkers
  • Approximately 28% of lawyers are struggling with some level of depression
  • Approximately 19% are struggling with anxiety
  • Younger lawyers in their first 10 years of practice and those working in private firms experience the highest rates of problem drinking and depression, which represents a shift from earlier research

For many lawyers, the path to languishing starts in law school. Fifteen law schools and more than 3,300 law students participated in a 2016 Survey of Law Student Well-Being, and the key findings are as follows:

  • 17% of law students experienced some level of depression
  • 14% experienced severe anxiety
  • 43% reported binge drinking at least once in the prior two weeks

Given these data, the ABA commissioned a national task force to address lawyer well-being. In its newly released report, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change (the “Report”), the task force proposes a slate of recommendations for law firms, law schools, regulators, the judiciary, bar associations and professional liability carriers.

While the vast majority of lawyers and law students do not have a mental health or substance use disorder, that does not mean they are thriving. According to the Report, many lawyers feel ambivalent about their work and different segments of the profession vary in their levels of satisfaction and well-being.  

The Report defines well-being as “a continuous process toward thriving across all life dimensions,” and identifies six key dimensions:

  1. Emotional (recognizing the importance of emotions and developing flexibility in how and when emotions are expressed)
  2. Occupational (cultivating personal satisfaction, growth and enrichment in your work)
  3. Intellectual (engaging in continuous learning and challenging activities that promote ongoing development)
  4. Spiritual (developing meaning and purpose in life)
  5. Physical (striving for regular physical activity, good nutrition, sufficient sleep and recovery)
  6. Social (fostering a sense of connection, belonging and a well-developed support network)

In order to build well-being along these dimensions, there are specific strategies all stakeholders in the legal profession can follow and implement:

Acknowledge the problems and take responsibility. The profession can’t solve a problem it isn’t willing to acknowledge. Other industries cite this as an important starting point. In an effort to reduce levels of burnout at Mayo Clinic, researchers and providers said that acknowledging and assessing the problem was a critical first-step strategy within the organization.

Leaders should demonstrate a personal commitment to well-being. Any type of wide-scale change requires buy-in and role modeling from leadership. Leaders should be encouraged to talk about ways they demonstrate well-being in their own lives.

Facilitate, destigmatize and encourage help-seeking behaviors. This is key, and it’s really tough. When I burned out, I refused to tell anybody for fear of being singled out and identified as the “weak one.” While I understand that mindset, it isn’t helpful. I could have received help much sooner, but instead waited until I was getting near daily panic attacks when my options were more limited.

Foster collegiality and respectful engagement throughout the profession. Chronic incivility depletes the legal profession’s one true resource – its people. Collegiality, on the other hand, fosters psychological safety – the feeling that the work environment is trusting, respectful and a safe place to take risks. When lawyers don’t feel psychologically safe, they are less likely to seek or accept feedback, experiment, discuss errors and to speak up about potential or actual problems.

Provide high-quality programs about well-being. Stakeholders should start teaching lawyers and law students about well-being topics that have a sound research efficacy, including:

    1. Work engagement and how to prevent burnout
    2. Stress and how to recover and recharge in a healthy way
    3. Resilience and cognitive reframing techniques
    4. Mindfulness and other contemplative practices
    5. Leader development training
    6. Developing more work-related control and autonomy
    7. Work-life integration (and what to do when work and life conflict)
    8. Meaning and purpose

Support a lawyer well-being index to measure progress. Creating such an index would be in line with other initiatives recognizing that success should not be measured only in economic terms. The data collected could help to counter the profits per partner metric that has been published in the legal profession for several decades.

The Report concludes in an important way: “As a profession, we have the capacity to face these challenges and create a better future for our lawyers that is sustainable. We can do – not in spite of – but in pursuit of the highest professional standards, business practices, and ethical ideals.”

Paula Davis-Laack advises law firms and teaches lawyers and law students about preventing burnout and building resilience to stress. This post first appeared in Forbes.



It’s called rejection. So many of us live our whole lives trying to avoid it. But we don’t even really understand what it is.

Did you know there’s an emotion so painful that taking Tylenol can actually help lessen the physical pain associated with it?

It’s called rejection.

So many of us live our whole lives trying to avoid it. But we don’t even really understand what it is.

Psychologists define rejection as the act of pushing something or someone away.

So if a romantic prospect turns down a second date, if you don’t get a job you applied for, if you’re trying to develop new business and the prospect says no – those are obvious forms of rejection.

But why is it so painful?

The answer lies in our evolutionary history. Humans are a social species. Evolutionarily speaking, we evolved in small groups where we needed the cooperation of group members to survive. To put it really simply: If your fellow group members rejected you, you were more likely to actually die.

That’s why when you experience rejection, it feels like you’re going to die. That’s because your primitive brain actually thinks that is what will literally happen.

People who feel the emotion of rejection regularly sleep worse, have poorer immune system function, and report overall lower health outcomes.

So we need to learn to deal with it if we’re going to survive – much less take any risks or chances in life. If you want to apply for a better job, bring new business into your firm, or take on a leadership role in your organization, you’re going to have to be able to cope with the potential for rejection.

I teach my clients that there are two types of rejection:

  1. Actual rejection, where you have asked for something and you’ve been told no. For example, you apply for a job and don’t get it. You ask someone for their business and they say no. You ask someone on a second date and they decline.
  2. Imagined rejection, where you interpret or read into other people’s words or behavior and make them mean you’re being personally rejected. For example, some colleagues go to lunch without inviting you, and interpret it to mean that they don’t like you. You get a lot of edits on an assignment, and you interpret it to mean that you’re doing a bad job. You pitch a potential client and they say they have to think about it, and you interpret it to mean they don’t like you and you’ve failed.

In either case, dealing with rejection involves changing the way you think about it and what you make it mean. But there are different strategies depending on which type of rejection you’re experiencing.

When you are experiencing a true rejection, you still want to keep an eye on what you are making it MEAN. Let’s say you apply for a job and you hear back that “we had a lot of qualified applicants and we went with an internal hire.” Now, you might feel disappointed because you were interested in the job. But if you feel ashamed or depressed or devastated, it’s likely that you’re making it mean something about you. You’re taking it as a personal rejection of what you have to offer, and as a verdict on your worthiness. When really, it’s just someone saying “no thank you.”

They might have a million reasons for hiring internally, even if you were the most qualified applicant in the world. Same thing in your personal life – if you ask someone out and they say no, it’s easy to make it mean “I’m not attractive enough.” But the truth is you have no idea why they are saying no. Maybe they are in love with their ex. Maybe they don’t date. Maybe you remind them of their third grade teacher. If you simply reframe it as them saying “No thank you” for reasons you can’t control or know, it’s less painful.

Manging your mind about perceived rejections should follow a similar pattern. In this case, the “no thank you” isn’t the right approach because often the person isn’t actually saying no to you at all, and what they are doing or saying has nothing to do with you in reality.  First, you have to ask yourself what you’re making it mean about you. If your colleagues go to lunch without you, are you making it mean that they don’t like you?

If someone on your team sends an email thanking some of the team members but doesn’t mention you, are you making it mean that they don’t value your work and your contributions or that you aren’t valuable to the team? Unless they are literally saying “no” to something you asked them to do or give you, it’s an imagined rejection and you have to figure out what you’re making it mean about you.

Once you know what you’re reading into it, how you are perceiving it was rejection, you can work on reframing your thoughts. One of my favorite ways to do that is to list at least 5 reasons the person might have said or done the thing that have nothing to do with you. Read them over and see how they feel – I can guarantee they will feel better than your original rejection-laden thought.

Whatever kind of rejection you’re experiencing, it’s a two step process. 1. Separate the facts from your interpretation of them. 2. Reframe your interpretation – whether as a “no thank you” or by recognizing the many reasons someone might have acted a certain way that were not about you.

Lawyers tend to be subconsciously on the defensive and to interpret everything other people say or do as being said or done AT us. But with practice you can learn to handle real rejection more easily and to stop seeing imagined rejection where it doesn’t exist.


Kara Loewentheil, J.D., C.M.C., is a former litigator and academic who now runs a boutique life coaching practice for law students and lawyers. As a Master Coach, Kara is intimately acquainted with the unique challenges lawyers face in their professional careers and personal lives. Kara teaches her clients cognitive-based techniques for dealing with stress, anxiety, and lawyer brain so that they can build the lives and careers they want. She is also the host of the only podcast that teaches lawyers concrete solutions to their unique lawyer problems, The Lawyer Stress Solution, available on iTunes. To download a free guide to taming your anxious lawyer brain, go to

This post first appeared on Above the Law.

9 Things I Figured Out When I Was a Young Lawyer


First year lawyers are starting in law firms this month. If you have any in your firm, you might share this with them.

I am able to look back now and see how a few things I figured out when I was a young lawyer contributed to my career success and life fulfillment. Here is what I figured out:

  1. What I wanted in my career and life. I really gave a lot of thought to what was important to me.
  2. What would motivate me and help me stay on track. I found motivation very necessary to get through difficult times.
  3. That I had to have a plan to achieve it and stay focused on what was important to me. I discovered I can easily get distracted by unimportant things.
  4. What my clients and potential clients wanted and needed. After I developed my legal skills, I spent a great deal of my non-billable time focusing on clients.
  5. Different ways I could give them what they wanted and needed. I thought creatively and out of the box.
  6. That having the right attitude and not ever giving up were essential.
  7. Each of the people who worked for me was unique and different. This was a major breakthrough because for a time I thought what motivated me would motivate each of them.
  8.  The importance of focusing on my family and to the extent that I could do it, arrange my work schedule to enable me to do things with them that they value.
  9. Finally, each and every day, I wanted to try to get better at what I did in my professional life and personal life. I spent an entire career studying successful and fulfilled people and borrowing from each something that would work for me.

If you are a regular reader, you know that two of my most read blog posts focused on what I wish someone had told me when I was a first year lawyer. I combined those posts in this Practical Lawyer article:  Forty Important Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was a First-Year Lawyer.


This article was first published on the Cordell Parvin blog.

Reading Partners Needs Substitute Readers

School is back in session which means that the DBA’s Lawyers in Schools Committee has been busy recruiting participants for Reading Partners. Many matches have already been made for the school year, but there’s always a need for substitute readers. This volunteer commitment is nominal in comparison to a full year reading partnership and is a great way for young lawyers with busy schedules to participate.

Reading Partners is a national children’s literacy organization that provides one-on-one tutoring to elementary aged students (K-4) through the support of community volunteers. Across the country, Reading Partners is united on a goal of helping more children achieve 4th grade reading proficiency to help students achieve success in school and in life.

The DBA’s Lawyers in Schools Committee partners annually with Reading Partners to recruit individual lawyers and teams of lawyers willing to commit to reading weekly with a student. Attorneys who participate say this is one of their most rewarding volunteer activities. Substitute readers make themselves available to fill in when the regularly scheduled partner is unavailable. Continuity is crucial for students’ reading success and substitute readers serve to periodically fill in the gaps.

If you’re interested in becoming a substitute reader or committing to a full year partnership, visit or contact Klaralee Charlton at

Learn the Fundamentals of Writing First—Experiment Later

By Bryan Garner for the ABA Journal,

It’s often said that you must know the rules before you break them. But why is that, exactly? It’s a question worth pondering.

I recently flew coast to coast sitting beside a young filmmaker with an MFA from New York University. He’s a finalist this year at the Cannes Film Festival. I asked him whether he’s ever met someone who wanted to do something with the camera that nobody had ever thought of doing before—something boldly original.

“I think you’re describing me before I got serious!” he said.

“That’s funny,” I said. “What would you think if you handed a violin to someone who said, ‘I am going to do something with this instrument that nobody has done before.’ Or what if you handed a set of golf clubs to someone who said, ‘I am going to play the game with these clubs in a way never before imagined!’”

“It would be foolish,” he said.

Naturally, I agreed.

Mastery of any discipline begins with imitation. You must know what’s been done before, and you must know about technique. You must know the rules of the discipline so that you can produce consistently strong results. Otherwise, you’re just acting in ignorance, and the quality of your results will be wildly variable—and generally poor.

So great pianists play in very much the same way, and their individual virtuosity comes through only in subtle ways. Professional golfers may look very different from one another, but they’re very much alike in the fundamentals—especially how the clubface, shoulders, feet and body look at the moment of impact with the ball. If there’s variation among true experts, it’s at the fringes. And all true experts have begun by imitating their great predecessors.


The same is true of writers. You have to know certain rules. I can think of eight offhand:

  1. You must fervently want to be understood, and therefore you must see things from the readers’ point of view—and it’s best to think of your readers in the broadest possible way.
  2. Sentences need to be linked to one another, fore and aft.
  3. The same is true of paragraphs.
  4. The first paragraph or two are the most valuable real estate you have, so you must make the most of them.
  5. The closing paragraph is the second most valuable real estate, so you mustn’t squander it—but instead cinch the deal (you’re selling your ideas).
  6. Because the primary position of emphasis in an English sentence is the end, you must try to end sentences emphatically if you want to keep your readers from dozing.
  7. Once you’ve written a draft, you must ruthlessly cut every unnecessary word (not being too hard on the word that).
  8. You must be attentive to the fine points of phrasing, word choice and punctuation—not for the sake of pedantry but for the sake of making comprehension effortless for your readers.

Those are good rules.


But many of us, at an impressionable age, picked up lots of bad rules that no reputable authority countenances. Unlike the eight just listed, they’re all simple prohibitions:

  1. You mustn’t begin a sentence with a conjunction, such as AndBut or Nor.
  2. You should never begin a sentence with Because.
  3. You mustn’t write a one-sentence paragraph.
  4. You should never use first person.
  5. You mustn’t end a sentence with a preposition.
  6. You mustn’t split an infinitive (those who believe this often don’t know what an infinitive is).
  7. You should never use since as a softer equivalent to because, and you should never use while to mean although.
  8. You must never use contractions.

Those aren’t really rules. They’re the stylistic equivalent of hearsay upon hearsay. Reputable writing authorities repudiate them, one and all. So part of the problem is to figure out what the real rules are—and then figure out when it makes sense to break them.

Notice that the simple-Simon prohibitions above are probably intended for young children. An analogous rule would be that of the Suzuki method of violin instruction, in which children are taught that before playing, they must begin with a zip-and-step (parting their feet [zip] and then moving the right foot forward [step]). But imagine the reaction you’d get from a virtuoso violinist if you accused them of violating a “rule” by not zipping and stepping at the beginning of a performance. It would be absolute nonsense.

When it comes to supposed rules of writing, it’s good to know what’s at their foundation. Some are aimed at curing young schoolchildren of elementary blunders. We teach kids not to begin with And or But precisely because they tend to begin all their sentences that way (especially And), and they need to be weaned off the habit. We teach them not to begin a sentence with Because just to keep them from perpetrating sentence fragments by mistakenly putting a period rather than a comma after the Because clause.

We teach them not to write one-sentence paragraphs so they’ll learn how to compose well-developed paragraphs. We teach them to write without I and me because beginners easily become addicted to mentioning themselves excessively—and need to learn to write with a more objective tone. All the while, we ignore the fact that they’ll ultimately need some sentence-starting conjunctions, some Because sentences, some one-sentence paragraphs and some uses of first person.

Other “prohibitions” are mostly nonsense and always have been: the idea that you mustn’t end with a preposition or must never split an infinitive. The great H.W. Fowler demolished these false idols in his 1926 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Nobody has successfully countered him. Most writing authorities, if they mention these bugaboos at all, take pains to eliminate them.

What about contractions? Again, it’s arguably useful to teach children a type of formal prose style before they mature and learn to relax their style (relax, I said, not be lax). It’s good that they learn you are, and later you’re, so they’re not hampered by a fundamental confusion between your and you’re. The same could be said of their and they’re (and there, for that matter). But contractions are an effective antidote to stuffiness, and they aid readability—demonstrably. Consider this sentence from The Law of Judicial Precedent (2016): “To say that a trial court or appellate court generally won’t rethink a prior ruling isn’t to say that it can’t.” An uncontracted style there will strike many as either stilted or downright laughable.


I should point out that my late co-author Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed with me about contractions. But he broke his own rule and allowed contractions throughout our first joint book, Making Your Case. And on occasion he broke his own rule, even in judicial opinions.

There are Bluebook rules worth breaking. One is the notion that explanatory parentheticals are “recommended” with many citations—a convention that spoils any product with in-line citations. Even proponents of in-line citations, such as Justice Scalia and Judge Richard Posner (no fan of the Bluebook), acknowledge that trailing parentheticals bastardize paragraphs when the citations are interlarded within the writing. Another is the idea that underlining is an acceptable practice in court documents.

Still, I would never say you shouldn’t learn established citation form just because you can later decide to ignore certain elements of it.

When it comes to breaking rules, Paul J. Kiernan of Washington, D.C., cites the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. They know how to play basketball, make passes, dunks and so on, but they’re entertaining because they then break or bend those rules for comic effect. If they couldn’t play a real game, their breaking the rules wouldn’t work. Or consider the comic classical pianist Victor Borge, who followed the same pattern. Or if you appreciate fine couture, think of Alexander McQueen and what he did with clothing design.

Only after you can truly perform as the discipline requires can you break rules to good effect.


Bryan A. Garner, the president of LawProse Inc., is the author of many books, including Garner’s Modern English Usage (also available as a mobile app), The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation and The Law of Judicial Precedent co-authored with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and 11 other appellate judges. Follow on Twitter @bryanagarner. This article was originally published in the ABA Journal.

Solo Not Alone: Consulting Lawyers and Other Professionals When Starting Your Own Firm

By Damian J. Arguello

There is an old adage that virtually every lawyer has heard: A lawyer who represents himself or herself has a fool for a client. This can be especially applicable when a lawyer decides to open up his or her own practice.

There are a multitude of steps that any new business owner must take to be successful. From securing financing to organizing the corporate entity to writing a thorough business plan, starting a new law firm warrants a mountain of administrative work. Because one of the main focal points is to control costs, it is tempting to try to save money by performing as much of the administrative work yourself as you can.

Lawyers are typically fast learners. Thus, lawyers starting their own practice often try to perform as much of the administrative work as they can themselves, especially if they are tech savvy. Lawyers are, after all, naturally adept at problem-solving.

As lawyers, we tend to think that we can learn any area of the law quickly and that we don’t need to hire lawyers to provide legal advice for our own startup practices. That’s an incorrect assumption, however. The hidden traps that a lawyer can run into can be fatal to a new practice.

For example, I found that it pays to hire lawyers in certain practice areas to provide much-needed advice early on. Just as you would advise a client starting a new business to seek legal advice in areas affecting that business, I found that it was worthwhile to have the same kind of advice myself.

I decided to operate my new practice under a trade name instead of under my own name. I knew that practicing under a trade name was something traditionally frowned upon or, in some cases, prohibited. However, I was aware of the fact that using trade names for a legal practice had recently become permissible in Colorado and certain other states. I had also heard such trade names for a variety of law firms on radio commercials. It occurred to me that my practice might be more successful if it used a trade name, as some find my surname difficult to pronounce and much of my previous practice had been out of state.

Still, I knew that there were ethical issues involved in practicing under a trade name. Accordingly, I did a little research concerning the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct to educate myself about these issues. I felt that I was on reasonably solid ground to use the trade name that I had chosen.

I had also worked with a graphic designer to create a logo and brand style for my new law firm. Afterward, I was uncertain about whether the combination of the trade name and logo would be confusing for prospective clients. My research had indicated that Colo. RPC 7.5 allowed a lawyer to use a trade name in private practice if that name “does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization and is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1.”

So, I decided to consult an attorney whom I knew had previously practiced in the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. That was a very smart move.

My ethics lawyer confirmed my conclusion that the trade name I had chosen was generally acceptable under the Rules of Professional Conduct. However, she, too, shared my concern that the combination of my trade name and logo could be challenged as potentially confusing to clients. Therefore, she recommended that I include a tagline disclaimer under my logo and trade name to clarify that my practice was a private law firm — not a governmental agency or nonprofit organization. While she felt that any complaints to Attorney Regulation Counsel about my trade name and logo without the tagline disclaimer would be unsuccessful, she believed such complaints would be more defensible if we used the tagline.

My ethics lawyer also informed me that many challenges to trade names that the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel fields come from competitors in the same practice area. Thus, she felt that any complaints to Attorney Regulation Counsel could be handled by having a letter from her opining that the trade name and logo combination with the tagline complied with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

She also gave me another piece of great advice: Confer with intellectual property counsel. Her reasoning was twofold: First, this would confirm that we were not infringing on any trademarks or other intellectual property rights with the logo that I had chosen for the firm; and second, this would help us take the proper measures to prevent someone else from infringing upon our own intellectual property rights.

While I was conversant in the Rules of Professional Conduct, I knew very little about intellectual property law. I reached out to an intellectual property attorney who had garnered solid endorsements from a number of people posting on the CBA’s Solo Small Firm Section Listserv. That attorney was able to confirm that we were not infringing on any existing trademarks with our logo. He was also able to help me seek protection for my firm’s logo and slogan from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We also registered the logo and slogan with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Beyond hiring attorneys, I also learned that it makes good business and financial sense to hire other qualified professionals as well. For example, I hired an accountant, a bookkeeper, a marketing consultant, a website developer/administrator and a graphic designer. While I am perfectly capable of doing certain kinds of administrative work, such as entering transactions into QuickBooks, I have found that it is easy to get bogged down in these administrative tasks, leaving you fewer hours to perform the crucial duties of serving clients, marketing the practice and spending quality time with those you care about the most.

I have also learned that, as with virtually any business or legal project, you secure better results through teamwork. Having a team of associated professionals working to make your practice successful not only increases the odds of success, it also helps alleviate some of the loneliness and isolation that solo practitioners (and lawyers in general) can experience.

Going solo doesn’t mean doing it alone. I’ve found that strategically getting help from lawyers and other professionals really pays off, especially in the peace-of-mind currency.


Damian J. Arguello is the founder and principal of Colorado Insurance Law Center, a private law firm dedicated to representing business and individual policyholders. He is a former claims adjuster and claims manager. Previously, he was a partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP and of counsel to Levin Sitcoff PC. He can be reached at This post originally appeared in The Docket.


5 Ways to De-stress Without Leaving Your Desk