April 16, 2014

Introducing STRATUM: A New Co-working Space for DBA Members

StratumThe Denver Bar Association hosted the Stratum ribbon cutting and happy hour event on Tuesday, April 8. Stratum is a first-of-its-kind community focused, co-working space for members at the DBA offices. The space is free for members to use from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday. Business amenities include high-speed wifi, meeting space, printing, scanning, copying and faxing, complimentary coffee and soft drinks, networking events and $5 passes to the on-site fitness center.

At Stratum’s unveiling, more than fifty members mingled and explored the new space while enjoying complimentary drinks and appetizers. DBA President Dan McCune, as well as DBA Fit to Practice Task Force members Alli Gerkman, Jessica Schmidt, Troy Rackham and Ilene Lin Bloom, aided in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Learn more about Stratum here.

18th Judicial District & AARP ElderWatch Hosting Fraud Prevention and Safety Summit

On Thursday, May 15, 2014, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and AARP Foundation ElderWatch will host a Fraud Prevention and Safety Summit in Parker, Colorado. This no-cost event is aimed at empowering seniors with tools and information to stay safe and prevent fraud before it happens. The event will be held at the Parker Arts, Culture, and Events Center. Registration is required and must be submitted by May 7, 2014. Register online at this website or call (877)  926-8300.

Seniors who attend the event will be educated on protecting themselves and their identities, and will interact with community agencies to identify community resources. Complimentary refreshments will be provided, and seniors will have a chance to network with other attendees.

A flyer about the event is available here. Please feel free to widely distribute this information and the flyer.

The Barristers Benefit Ball: What is it Funding?

This post originally appeared in the March 2014 edition of The Docket, the publication of the Denver Bar Association. 

Click here to see an infograph regarding the impact of Metro Volunteer Lawyers.

The Barristers Benefit Ball comes every spring. This year’s event, themed “Talk Derby to Me,” is sure to be a night to remember! If you haven’t been before, or are wondering what it’s all about—and why this enormous fundraising effort takes place every year—read on.

The DBA supports Metro Volunteer Lawyers as its pro bono program. Its 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.”

The Barristers Benefit Ball is the biggest annual fundraiser to benefit MVL—a vital portion of our annual funding. MVL is also supported by the Henry Hall Memorial Golf Tournament, Colorado Legal Services, the Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation, the Fred & Jean Allegretti Foundation, Lois Ann Rovira in honor of her husband, former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Luis Rovira, and private donations.

The following table shows major contributors and amounts contributed during the last fiscal year:


MVL’s Current Programs

There are six programs within MVL that provide our clients free and low-cost legal services: Direct Referrals to individual attorneys for representation, the Family Law Court Program, the Post-Decree clinics, the Rovira Scholar, the legal clinic at the Denver Indian Center, and the Clinical Adoption Program. Following are more details on these programs that rely on your fundraising.

Direct Referrals

MVL recruits and coordinates volunteer attorneys to represent people who otherwise could not afford legal assistance. CLS handles the initial client intake process and then sends selected cases to MVL for referral. Once a potential client has completed intake, the Legal Services Coordinator reviews the file and begins contacting volunteer attorneys to try to place the case.

Family Law Court Program

The vast majority of the clients served by MVL need assistance with their domestic relations cases. We coordinate and manage monthly FLCP clinics in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties. The FLCP assists clients with relatively uncomplicated, “uncontested” divorce or custody matters where the other party is not represented by an attorney.

Post-Decree Clinics

MVL coordinates and manages Post-Decree Clinics for domestic relations cases in Denver and Jefferson Counties. The Post-Decree Clinics assist individuals with legal problems that arise after Permanent Orders have been entered in a Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) or Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (custody) case.

MVL collaborates with the following volunteer firms who sponsor and staff our Post-decree Clinics: Faegre, Baker, Daniels LLP, Holland & Hart LLP, Pelegrin Radeff & Frazer-Abel, PC, Polidori, Franklin & Monahan, LLC, and the Colorado Office of the Attorney General.

Rovira Scholar Fellowship

The Rovira Scholar Fellowship was made possible by a generous gift from Lois Ann Rovira, wife of former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Luis Rovira. The goal of the Fellowship is to enhance the overall understanding of the complex and unique legal challenges presented in pro bono public service through the early training and professional development of outstanding law school graduates. This position, designed for a recent law graduate, permits MVL to increase critical legal services to those in need.

Legal Clinic at the Denver Indian Center

MVL works with the Denver Indian Center to provide a walk-in clinic each month. The project was initiated by two Native American attorneys: MVL Executive Director Dianne Van Voorhees and Board Member Danielle L. Demkowicz. The Clinic meets in the Denver Indian Center in Lakewood, on the first Wednesday of every month. MVL sponsors and coordinates volunteers.

Clinical Adoption Program

In an effort to meet the rising demand of adoption cases coming through our office, past Rovira Scholar Sarah Zoellner created an adoption program to meet the following goals: reduce the number of volunteer hours required of our volunteer attorneys; enable our office to more efficiently process the larger number of adoption cases; and provide support for our volunteer attorneys so we can provide the highest quality of legal service to our clients.

Your Contribution Matters

Expanding our program, studying new ways to operate and provide services is an ongoing and satisfying endeavor. We are especially proud to have had the Colorado Attorney General’s Office become our latest sponsor firm as of Fall 2013. Thanks to our new collaboration, MVL has added two additional Post-Decree Clinics to our schedule each month.

Unfortunately, MVL is also anticipating significant, if not total, loss of COLTAF funds due to the consistent lack of growth or replenishment of the fund. The overall shrinking of funds for CLS impacts all of us, and the resulting shortfall of funds for pro bono programs that serve as an additional safety net to those unable to be served by CLS only adds to the crisis. The complete loss of COLTAF funding would possibly prevent MVL from additional expansions of existing programs. Given this impending likelihood, any increase in the per capita contributions from our local bar associations, private funders, and Barristers Benefit Ball sponsors and attendees is welcome.

The MVL staff is a small team that works together with our volunteers and interns to ensure that we are in touch with our partners and the legal community at large. In 2012, we had 455 volunteer attorneys and 33 nonattorneys (law students, paralegals, etc.) handle 1,448 cases and assist several clinical clients. MVL also successfully recruited 165 new volunteer attorneys to our existing panel. The majority of cases are domestic relations matters. Other case types include consumer, bankruptcy, landlord tenant, real estate, wills/POA, guardianships, conservatorships, probate, and tax issues. Without our donors and our volunteers who give their money, time, and skill, we could not have helped so many people in need.

The funds raised through the Barristers Benefit Ball help MVL maintain its staff and pay its operating expenses, both of which are vital to sustaining and expanding its capacity to serve our community.

MVL is always recruiting more attorneys who practice in the Denver Metro area to join our volunteer panel. By providing much needed pro bono legal services, MVL’s volunteer lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals provide access to justice and help stabilize families, save taxpayers money, reduce the number of cases clogging the courts, and help people move toward self-sufficiency and full participation in society.

By Dianne Van Voorhees, the Executive Director of Metro Volunteer Lawyers. You can contact her at diannev@denbar.org.

Children’s Law Center Annual Dinner on April 11 Soars to New Heights

Fundraiser for abused and neglected children in Colorado to showcase SOAR! Youth & Adult Choir

The Children’s Law Center, a nonprofit organization that provides legal advocacy for abused and neglected children, will host its annual dinner on April 11, 2014 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Westin Denver Downtown at 1672 Lawrence Street. The SOAR! Youth & Adult Choir will perform. CBS4 newscaster Gloria Neal will emcee and former state representative Debbi Stafford will be the auctioneer.

“This year’s ‘Reach for the Stars’ theme really embodies what the Children’s Law Center does through the generous support we receive from the community,” said Stephanie Villafuerte, Children’s Law Center’s executive director. “We work to prevent abuse, protect children who have suffered devastating maltreatment and prepare children for a future that is abuse free and full of promise and hope that they can reach for the stars.”

The event will feature dinner and silent and live auctions. In addition, the SOAR! Youth & Adult Choir will perform. SOAR! provides at-risk children the opportunity to be involved in a safe community and perform alongside adult mentors.

Tables and individual tickets are available and may be purchased at www.ChildLawCenter.org, or by contacting Dinner@ChildLawCenter.org or 303.692.1165. Table benefits are also available online. Title sponsors for the event include Noble Energy and The Abdoulah Family Fund.

Volunteers Needed to Help Plant Trees in Colorado Natural Disaster Areas

treeOnce again, the American Bar Association, Colorado Bar Association, and local bar associations are seeking volunteers to help plant trees in areas devastated by fires and floods in Colorado.  Please see below for two volunteer opportunities.  We hope to see you outside this Spring!

Larimer County
On Saturday April 5, 2014, lawyers, friends, and family from Boulder County Bar Association and surrounding areas are invited to plant trees in the Bellevue-Watson Fish Hatchery, located near Fort Collins.*

The Hatchery was greatly impacted by both the High Park Fire and the September 2013 floods.   It has sustained increased run-off from these natural disasters, which has caused excess sediment to the Hatchery.  The State-run Hatchery raises more than 300,000 fish each year which stock local reservoirs, ponds, and rivers.  The sediment is affecting the health of the fish and overall operation of the Hatchery.  The planting project will result in a barrier to prevent excess debris/run-off from affecting the fish population.

We are looking for volunteers of all ages.  It will be a great opportunity to restore an area affected by the flood, and to learn about this local Hatchery.

We hope to arrange ride-sharing to the location for this half day volunteering opportunity.  Please email gstockmayer@dietzedavis.com to sign up and for additional information about the Saturday, April 5th event.

This project is sponsored by:

*We are planning on organizing one or more Boulder-based planting events this summer and/or fall for those unable to attend the April 5 event.

Jefferson County
On Saturday May 3, 2014, lawyers, friends, and family are invited to plant willow stakes near Deckers, Colorado in the Hayman Fire burn area.

The Hayman Fire was one of the largest ever in Colorado and although it occurred several years ago, there is still a great need to replant vegetation and stabilize stream banks.

We will organize carpools from Denver and Boulder as the planting area is about a one hour and 40 minute drive from Denver.  Planting will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Last year’s volunteers had a wonderful time meeting other attorneys and doing good work for Colorado’s environment.

Please email Grant Boies at gboies@rccinvestments.net with your name and phone number (and those of your friends) if you want to participate.

This project is sponsored by:

Volunteer Moot Court Judges Sought for First-Year Oral Arguments

Every spring, 1L students at CU Law School take a class in appellate advocacy. The law school needs volunteers to act as judges for oral arguments. Notice is short, so please volunteer right away if you’re able to help!

Oral arguments will take place from April 4-16, 2014. Most arguments will be held in Denver at the Tenth Circuit and the Colorado Court of Appeals, and some will be held in Boulder at CU Law School. Unless otherwise indicated, the arguments will last approximately 2 hours each. The argument schedule can be accessed by using the following link:


If you are interested in volunteering, please use the RSVP form on the linked website.

This year the school is using two different problems. One, which is being used in sections taught by Todd Stafford, Gabrielle Stafford, and Natalie Mack, concerns an appeal to the Seventh Circuit concerning inmate Marcos Perez’s claim that Correctional Officer Lenny Andrews violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment while imprisoned. The second problem, which is being used in sections taught by Amy Bauer and Corie Rosen Felder, concerns an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals concerning defendant Adolf Beck’s motion to suppress evidence gathered during a one-on-one show-up procedure. So that you can prepare, the school will provide a bench brief and the students’ briefs.

Please join the CU Law moot court team by volunteering your time. They much appreciate your involvement in preparing the next generation of lawyers. Please also pass this message along to other members of your firm or organization who might also be willing to volunteer.

Glenwood Springs Wins the Colorado Mock Trial Tournament

Students from Glenwood Springs High School took first in state, defeating a team from Denver’s Colorado Academy in the championship round on Saturday night at the Colorado Bar Association State Mock Trial Tournament, which is funded and supported by the CBA Litigation Section and the Colorado Bar Foundation.

Glenwood Springs High School will advance to the National Mock Trial Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, May 8–10. There, they will argue a new case and compete with more than 1,000 students from the United States, U.S. territories, and South Korea.

Most teams participate in mock trial as an extracurricular activity run by teachers and attorney volunteers. This year, 104 teams from around the state competed in the program. The final 24 teams were top placers in nine regional tournaments held around the state in February.

This marks the 29th year of High School Mock Trials. Students have been preparing for the tournament since September—to try the same fictitious case regarding distracted driving involving a vehicle and bicyclist. In each round, students had to be ready to perform either the prosecution or defense side of the case. They were scored by real attorneys and judges.

This year the Colorado Bar Association Mock Trial Program partnered with EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving), which is sponsored by the Casey Feldman Foundation, to launch the campaign for high school mock trial participants by writing a case problem that would compel each participant to make a pledge to end distracted driving. The Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and the Casey Feldman Foundation awarded $500 to both Holy Family High School and Regis Jesuit for best incorporating the safe driving message, as consistent with EndDD.org, into their mock trial presentation.

Alex Martinez, Denver Public Schools General Counsel and former Colorado Supreme Court justice, presided over the championship round, along with Hon. Christine Arguello of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado; Hon. David P. Cain, CBA Mock Trial Committee and Colorado Office of Administrative Courts; Hon. Christina Habas, Keating Wagner Polidori Free PC; Emma Pinter, CBA Mock Trial Committee and Westminster City Council; Hon. Gale Miller, Colorado Court of Appeals; Hon. Steven Bernard, Colorado Courts of Appeals; and Teri Vasquez, CBA Mock Trial Committee Chair and Bayer Carey LLC.

Denver Bar Association Releases Survey Regarding Second Judicial District Nominees

A Second Judicial District vacancy will be created by the retirement of the Honorable Norman D. Haglund on April 18. The Colorado Judicial Department has released the names of the three finalists for that vacancy on the bench. The finalists are Karen L. Brody, David H. Goldberg, and Jay S. Grant. See below for brief biographies on each candidate.

Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey regarding the nominees. The Denver Bar Association, through its President, Daniel R. McCune, will provide the information from the survey to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s legal team.

The survey will be compiled by The Denver Bar Association and all survey responses are confidential. Each time a judicial vacancy occurs in the Denver District Court, the Denver Bar surveys its members on the nominees to provide feedback to the governor’s office.

The survey will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 14. You can begin the survey here. We apologize for the short turnaround time but the names were just released. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

The three nominees are:

Karen L. Brody
Brody is currently an attorney with Lowe, Fell & Skogg in Denver where she practices Commercial, Real Estate, and Eminent Domain Litigation. Ms. Brody received her undergraduate degree from the University of Denver in 1982, her M.A. from Tufts University in 1983, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver in 1996.

David H. Goldberg
Goldberg is currently a trial attorney at Greenberg Traurig practicing commercial litigation and arbitration. In addition, he was formerly the managing partner of an international law firm’s Moscow office, where his practice focused on international transactions, financing, licensing and distribution agreements. Mr. Goldberg received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1980 and his Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology in 1983.

Jay S. Grant
Grant is currently a Deputy State Public Defender in Denver. Mr. Grant previously was an attorney at Stiner, Beck, Jonson & Nolan, where he practiced criminal defense and family law, and was an attorney at Cudd & Associates, where he practiced securities law. Mr. Grant received his undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University in 1992 and his Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University in 1997.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Alexa Drago at adrago@cobar.org or (303) 824-5313.

CBA Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee Inaugural Reception

The CBA Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee would like to welcome new members at its inaugural reception on Thursday, March 27, 2014. The committee is revamped and reenergized and has a new agenda. All are welcome to attend this reception. Please join committee chair Catherine Chan and other committee members for complimentary cocktails and appetizers, and find out more about the exciting new direction for the committee. Email lunches@cobar.org or call (303) 860-1115, ext. 727, to RSVP.

The Diversity in the Legal Profession (DILP) Committee is comprised of dedicated attorneys from the Denver and Colorado legal communities as well as representatives from the University of Colorado School of Law and the University of Denver College of Law.  Its mission is to break down the long-standing barriers that have prevented diverse attorneys from succeeding in the legal profession.  DILP’s goal is to cultivate diversity within the legal community and work with law schools, law students, practicing lawyers, and legal employers throughout Colorado to promote diversity at all levels.

Call for Nominations for Trust & Estate Section Sterling Ambler Award

Each year, the CBA Trust & Estate Section presents its Sterling Ambler Award to an outstanding trust and estate attorney who has made significant and multitudinous contributions to the Trust & Estate Section and the legal profession. The Award is given to an individual who has contributed substantially to furtherance of Colorado law, education of others, and the Trust and Estate Section of the Colorado Bar Association. It is named in honor of R. Sterling Ambler, an exceptional attorney who practiced law in Colorado for over 50 years and who gave freely of his time and expertise to individual lawyers, to the Colorado Bar Association, and to the legal profession, until his death in 2004 at the age of 72.

Sterling was skilled in the law, but he also excelled at writing, debating, and refining statutory language and ideas. He worked on many legislative proposals and willingly considered new ideas and developments in the law. His diplomacy and insights were often useful in bridging differences among lawyers, sections of the Bar, and the legislature. He was selfless in advancing the law as a whole over his own personal interests. Sterling Ambler will be remembered for his sense of humor, his quiet unassuming way, and his willingness to accept help from others and to freely share his wealth of knowledge of the law.

Criteria for eligibility for the Sterling Ambler Award include significant years of contribution to the Trust & Estate Section and the legal profession, as well as multiple areas of contribution, including but not limited to building connections between sections of the CBA, helping advance the legislative agenda of the CBA, participation in Trust & Estate Section committee meetings, assisting less experienced attorneys, and participation in professional organizations.

The nomination form is available here and must be submitted no later than April 30 to Melissa Schwartz, secretary/treasurer of the Trust & Estate Section, or Andrea Mueller Arias of the CBA.

Save the Date—The 9th Annual Attorneys’ Night Out is Thursday, May 15

On Thursday, May 15, 2014, the Denver Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and The Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People will host the 9th Annual Attorneys’ Night Out at the Blake Street Tavern. The event will take place from 5:30 pm to 9 pm.

All members of the community are welcome to enjoy drinks and appetizers while benefiting The Legal Center. Tickets are $25 ahead of time or $35 at the door, and each attendee receives admission to the event, a drink ticket, and delicious appetizers. Click here to purchase tickets online.

For information on sponsorship activities for the Attorneys’ Night Out, contact Julie Busby, Director of Development for The Legal Center, at (303) 862-3507

In Memoriam: Denver Probate Judge Field C. Benton

Former Denver Probate Judge Field C. Benton passed away last week at the age of 87. Judge Benton received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Colorado, and he was admitted to practice in Colorado in 1951. Judge Benton’s true calling was the law, and he served as a lawyer, judge, and senior judge for over 40 years. Additionally, he served in both the U.S. Army and the Navy. He was passionate about fly fishing and enjoyed spending time outdoors.

A memorial service for Judge Benton will be held on Thursday, February 20, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington St. in Denver. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Denver Dumb Friends League, Brookdale Hospice, or a charity of your choice.