When accepting the Richard Marden Davis Award on Tuesday, Jan. 24, Denver Bar Association past president Stacy Carpenter reflected on the people who have shaped who she is today, as a lawyer and as a member of the Denver community.
She spoke of her father, Will Carpenter, a Denver real estate attorney and a former DBA president. She recalled him introducing her at her first Colorado Bar Foundation meeting. “My father stood up and he said, in is very succinct style, ‘I am Will Carpenter. I have the honor of introducing you to my daughter, Stacy. She has good genes.’ And I thought to myself, it could not be said any better than that.”
He also taught her to become involved with the legal community, which wasn’t hard, considering she grew up attending bar meetings and events. Immediately after being admitted to the bar, Carpenter joined the CBA and DBA, and specifically the DBA’s Legal Services Committee.
“It wasn’t that I really thought about that choice and it wasn’t that I thought it was going to get me something or that I was going to meet people. It was simply I did it because I thought that was what you did,” Carpenter said. “It never occurred to me that there were lawyers out there who didn’t join all of the bar association committees because that’s the way that I was raised.”
Her mother taught her another important trait.
“My mother taught me compassion for other people,” Carpenter said. “I’ve never met a person who has such an ability to make another person feel so much better by simply listening to them.”
Carpenter was the 19th honoree of the Davis Award, which is presented annually to a Denver lawyer who is 40-years-old or younger and combines excellence as a lawyer with civic, cultural, educational, and charitable leadership. The award was created in memory of Richard Davis, one of the founders of Davis Graham & Stubbs, who devoted himself tirelessly to the profession and the community. Each honoree best exemplifies the character and promise of Richard Davis at that stage in his career. For nearly 50 years, Davis tirelessly devoted himself to the profession and the community. He served as president of the DBA in 1959, and he played key leadership roles in arts, philanthropic, and other organizations.
Davis’ family, his law firm Davis Graham & Stubbs, and the Denver Bar Foundation established the award in his memory in 1993, honoring his belief that great lawyers should be professional and community leaders. The award was created not only to recognize successful and committed young lawyers, but also to inspire other young attorneys to follow in his footsteps.
Carpenter is a shareholder at Polsinelli Shughart and an experienced civil trial attorney whose practice focuses on commercial litigation, employment law, professional liability defense, and ERISA litigation. Carpenter has served on a number of Bar Associations in leadership roles, including the Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors for three separate terms and as DBA President from 2010-11.
DBA President-elect Jim Benjamin introduced Carpenter at the award ceremony at the Brown Palace, noting her achievements thus far in her career: She dove in to politics and policy, heading up the Colorado Bar Association’s “No on 40” campaign in 2008, working to educate voters about the benefits of Colorado’s merit selection system. She was honored in 2005 with the Sue Birch Legislative Award and remains active in the CBA’s legislative policy committee.
She has also been involved with pro bono legal assistance, and received the Donald W. Hoagland Award, given to leaders in the development and implementation of pro bono representation, in 2001. She received the DBA’s Volunteer of the Year award in 2004. Recently she was appointed to the board of directors of Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, which provides legal advocacy for abused and neglected children.
And, even when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, pregnant with her son Jackson, things remained “business as usual,” Benjamin said.
“Ms. Carpenter continued in her law practice,” he said, “even appearing in oral argument before the Court of Appeals without sign of adversity other than the turban wrapping her head to cover the baldness from the chemotherapy and visibly pregnant. “
This led to another civic activity: serving as co-chair and honorary chair for the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s Cocktails for a Cure, a fundraising event that celebrates Colorado women and supports the continued research and treatment of women’s cancers.
DBA President Ilene Bloom spoke of the intangibles that also make Carpenter a stand out.
“I know that being a good friend is not one of the formal criteria of the Richard Marden Davis Award,” Bloom said, “but I have had the honor of calling Stacy a good friend for the past decade and it has shown me a lot of her character over time.”
Carpenter channeled legendary Denver attorney Brooke Wunnicke, who when receiving the DBA’s Award of Merit (its highest award), said, “The practice of law is an honorable profession and one in which we should be proud to participate.”
She echoed Wunnicke’s sentiments and remarked on her own passion for the profession.
“The truth is that I absolutely love the practice of law,” she said. “There is never a day that I regret my decision to become an attorney.”
Among the dozens of guests were past Davis Award honorees, including Kristin Bronson, Michael Carrigan, Paul Chan, Todd Fredrickson, Richard Gabriel, Allan Hale, Natalie Hanlon-Leh, Kenzo S. Kawanabe, Chris Little, Tim Macdonald, Mari Newman, David Powell, and Celeste Quinones.
Carpenter said she knows that those there to celebrate her that night also understand the importance of service, and that she viewed the honor as one for them all.
“While I think you all for this honor … in my heart this award is really about all of us and is really about the legal community as a whole,” she said. “It is an honorable profession, we are honorable people, and I hope that Dick Davis would be proud of us all.”