October 3, 2015

Resolve Client Conflicts Through Narrative Mediation

ADR2015Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from materials written by C. Adam Foster of Hoban & Feola, LLC, who will present “Once Upon a Mediation: The Role of Narrative in Alternative Dispute Resolution” at CLE’s 9th Annual Colorado ADR Conference on October 7, 2015. See below for registration information.

Each person tells themselves a story about how their past experiences have shaped them as a person and how these experiences, along with their goals and values, define what is important to them in life. In other words, personal narrative gives meaning to past experiences, which define the individual’s self-image in the present and in turn circumscribes how they view their relationships with others and how they evaluate their choices moving forward. Individuals create multiple narratives in different contexts that inform how they see themselves in various social roles, for instance as professionals, spouses, parents and friends. These individual narratives stand in dialog with larger social narratives involving class, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and many other aspects of identity. Moreover, the existence of these narratives and their effect on the construction of identity may be more or less consciously acknowledged depending on the individual and their circumstances at any given time. Regardless of whether consciously or (more often) subconsciously, each individual crafts a narrative that reaffirms his or her values and identity. Thus, “[t]he stories that one constructs fit into a wider web of stories relating to other stories created by the same individual, to stories created by members of one’s social network, and even to cultural stories on a societal level” (Hansen, 2003). The notion of interrelated individual narrative and larger scale social discourse has been adopted into the practice of Narrative Mediation. Kure & Winslade (2010) elaborate:

In particular, narrative mediators focus on what can be coined “relational discourses,” which are local systems of meaning that shape the identities of parties in a relationship. These relational discourses map on to larger, more pervasive, discourses, or orders of discourse, but at the personal level, they are manifest through the ‘positioning ’of each of the parties in a power relation.

This idea of individual identity as a product of multiple individual and group discourses and narratives dovetails with the concept of “discursive positioning.” As Winslade (2003) writes: “As people speak, they position themselves not just in immediate relation to other person(s) in the conversation, but also in relation to utterances in other conversations.” Furthermore, discursive positioning occurs not just in relation to past conversations that the parties have had with each other, but innumerable conversations they have had with third parties.

The statement of facts is the most important portion of any legal brief because citation to legal authorities is meaningless unless the decision maker understands the specific factual context of the case. Judges, juries and arbitrators want to achieve a fair outcome. A properly crafted narrative creates moral tension, suggests a proper result and makes the decision maker care about the outcome. Moreover, a great deal of trial strategy focuses on advancing the client’s narrative and suppressing or disrupting the opposing party’s narrative. A compelling narrative has “integrity” in the sense that the facts fit together in a logical fashion and support the party’s message.

Attorneys must recognize that the audience is different in a bench trial, jury trial, arbitration or mediation—and attorneys should tailor this narrative to the appropriate audience while telling the story the client needs to tell. Moreover, each individual—the parties but also the attorneys and mediator, arbitrator, judge, jury, etc.—is trying to make sense of two related, but distinct, narratives: (i) a narrative regarding the facts of case and a desirable outcome; and (ii) a meta-narrative regarding who they are as a person and how case fits in with their life story.

In mediation making sure that the parties feel heard is critical. Parties want to achieve a favorable outcome but also to feel heard and validated in the process, so a good settlement accomplishes both. A party who achieves favorable financial outcome but doesn’t feel heard feels dissatisfied and may try to undermine the settlement when the opportunity arises.

Common sense dictates that it will usually be more important for parties to agree on certain elements of a joint narrative if they will be in a continuing relationship (e.g., in a workplace or parenting time dispute) versus a one-off transaction (e.g., a tort settlement for money damages). But it is often necessary to establish legal and factual stipulations to settle any type of dispute. Litigation will result in a judgment, but may not further agreement on a joint narrative.

C. Adam Foster, Esq., serves as Special Counsel at Hoban and Feola, where his practice focuses on the representation of business owners and mediation of business cases. He received a B.A. in Anthropology in 1998 from the University of Colorado at Boulder and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Adam returned to the University of Colorado at Boulder to attend law school, where he served as the Articles Editor of the University of Colorado Law Review, won the CU-DU Cup Mock Trial Competition, and received the Legal Aid Award for Outstanding Advocate. Adam joined Hoban & Feola in September of 2010 and today focuses on representing small to medium-sized business owners—including entrepreneurs within the burgeoning cannabis and industrial hemp industries—in transactions and litigation. He also mediates cases involving business, partnership and employment disputes. He speaks Spanish fluently and volunteers regularly, providing pro bono legal referrals through the Colorado Lawyers Committee Legal Nights and Project Homeless Connect.


CLE Program: 9th Annual Colorado ADR Conference

This CLE presentation will take place Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. Live program only – click here to register or call (303) 860-0608.

Learn to Negotiate Effectively – Gain the Edge!®

Everyone negotiates. If you are a lawyer – regardless of your practice area – your ability to negotiate effectively may be one of the most critical skills you possess.

Like any skill we possess, our negotiation techniques will grow and develop as we feed them. Our upcoming Gain the Edge!® Negotiation Strategies for Lawyers seminar with Marty Latz will help lawyers hone their skills and become more effective negotiators. The video clip above shows you just one of Marty’s tips for handling negotiations successfully.

As Marty explained to us “There’s basically a right way to negotiate, and there’s a wrong way to negotiate.” While most of us tend to wing it while negotiating, Marty will share decades of proven expert research to help you sharpen your negotiating skills by navigating away from an instinctive or intuitive mindset towards a more strategic method.

This program has something for everyone. “Everybody benefits. Negotiation is truly a life skill,” as Marty says. Whether you are a litigator, family lawyer, or real estate practitioner, negotiations come into your practice. Perhaps you are trying to close a business deal, encountering discovery disputes, trying to solve a taxation issue, or negotiating your office lease. Whatever it is that you do, this program will provide you tips for negotiating in any professional legal environment. By attending, you’ll gain tools to negotiate more successfully with all of the people you encounter: your bosses, co-workers, employees, clients, and other lawyers.

We hope you’ll join us and Marty for Gain the Edge! ® Negotiation Strategies for Lawyers. You can learn more about the topics Marty will cover by viewing the program brochure. As a bonus, each attendee will receive a copy of Marty’s book, Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want. To reserve your spot now, click here to register online or call (303) 860-0608.

Then mark your calendar and come prepared to improve your skills and have fun at the same time. Marty’s other seminar attendees have told him that they “not only find [the information] useful, practical, and interesting but they also really enjoy themselves.”

We hope you’ll enjoy it too!

CLE Program: Gain the Edge! ® Negotiation Strategies for Lawyers

This CLE presentation will take place Friday, October 2, 2015 at the CLE offices. All class attendees will receive a copy of Marty Latz’s book, Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want. Live program only – click here to register.

Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on the blog of the Legal Education Society of Alberta on July 28, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

Associate’s Mind: Book Review — Writing to Win

keith-lee-birmingham-alabama-attorneyEditor’s Note: This post originally appeared on July 12, 2012, on Keith Lee’s blog, Associate’s Mind. Reprinted with permission.

CLE in Colorado is hosting two half-day programs presented by Writing to Win author Steven Stark; see below for registration information.

Roughly a month ago I received a review copy of Steven Stark’s Writing To Win. It’s taken this long for me to get the review up because A) I’ve been busy and B) I always fully read any book I receive and Writing To Win is long and dense – albiet in the all the best ways possible. Writing To Win now sits next to Ross Guberman’s Point Made as one of my favorite books on legal writing.

In my review of Point Made I stated:

Point Made is not an introductory level book. If you’re not familiar with basic legal writing, you might be better off starting somewhere else. But it might be the best technique oriented legal book I’ve ever read . . . Point Made is a tactical book. Point Made provides granular-level advice that can immediately be implemented in your writing.

Writing To Win is the introductory book I would hand anyone looking to learn about legal writing. If I were to design a legal writing course, it would be the course textbook.

Writing To Win’s strength is in its organization and clarity of purpose. Both of which are what Stark emphasizes again and again as fundamental tenant of strong legal writing. The book is broken into four section:

  1. The Fundamentals of Legal Writing
  2. The Fundamentals of Argument for All Lawyers
  3. Writing in Litigation
  4. Writing in Legal Practice

The first section, The Fundamentals of Legal Writing, begins with a focus on organization. It then moves into the actual construction of text. Like every other good book on legal writing in emphasizes core points:

  • Avoid legal jargon
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it simple
  • Write for the reader, not for yourself

But Stark lays it out in a very effective way. Each topic is broken down, examined, then placed into context of the the larger purposes of legal writing. Each topic also flows directly into the next one while building on top of the previous material. It’s masterfully done – the text is a perfect example of the type of writing Stark is discussing.

The second section, The Fundamentals of Argument for All Lawyers, takes a very different approach to crafting legal arguments than I imagine is taught in most law schools. For example this section:

So any time you compose an argument . . . my advice would be to do enough research first to get a general sens of the law. No matter how complex the matter, this research should never take more than an hour or so. Then put all you research aside ask yourself, if I had to explain to a judge, or another lawyer, or a client why we should win without resorting to any precedent or law, what would I say? In laymen’s terms, why are we right? Then write those reasons down. . .

Outline the argument, research it later.

Which I have found to be an excellent tool in my own writing. It’s just a shame that I had to come to it on my own and was not taught it in law school. I was also pleased to see that Stark gave heavy emphasis to the advertising industry. Like I stated in my post about the writing blogs I follow, I think lawyers could gain a lot my studying the techniques the advertising industry uses to persuade consumers. It’s nice to see it echoed in Writing To Win. 

Also, Stark emphasizes the use of narrative in argument. A well constructed narrative is the difference between a slog of a brief and one that pulls the reader along. Stark quotes Chief Justice John Roberts in this section, which makes the point most succinctly:

Every lawsuit is a story, I don’t care if its about a dry contract interpretation; you’ve got two people who want to accomplish something, and they’re coming together – that’s a story. And you’ve got to tell a good story.

Sorry lawyers, you’ve got to be good authors too. But most of you probably secretly want to do that anyway.

The last two sections, Writing in Litigation and Writing in Legal Practice, provide detailed strategies for tackling a number of styles of legal writing. From affidavits to appeals, from memos to emails, Stark provides concrete methods for making smooth, organized, flowing language that should make the text easier to parse for readers. The sections are littered with tips like study a cookbook or board game to improve your technical writing (taking a complex set of rules and systems and explaining them in a way that anyone can understand). It’s too much to go into here, but it Stark does an excellent job covering the most common writing scenarios lawyers deal with day to day.


Earlier I stated that Writing To Win “is the introductory book I would hand anyone looking to learn about legal writing.” This not because the book is simple or a beginner level book – it’s because it is one of the clearest and most well organized books on legal writing I’ve had the pleasure to read. Any law student or new lawyer looking to brush up on their writing skills would do well to pick up this book. Highly recommended.

Worth noting, the Appendix of the book contains 8 General Rules for Professionalism in Legal Writing. The number one rule?

Never lie under any circumstance. 

Sometimes I think lawyers forget that.

Keith Lee is a lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Associate’s Mind, one of the most popular legal blogs in the US. Associate’s Mind has been linked to by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, ABA Journal, dozens of  blogs and websites, and has been featured as an Editor’s Pick at the Browser. It is frequently featured in the national newsletter, Technolawyer, and many of its articles were syndicated to LexisNexis. Associate’s Mind was selected as one of the “Blawg 100″ by the ABA Journal for 2011. Keith also writes a weekly column for Above The Law.

CLE in Colorado is hosting two half-day programs presented by Writing to Win author Steven D. Stark on October 1, 2015: “Legal Writing in the Smartphone Age” in the morning and “Writing to Win” in the afternoon. All attendees of the afternoon program will receive a copy of Writing to Win. To register, click the links below or call (303) 860-0608.

CLE Programs: Legal Writing in the Smartphone Age AND Writing to Win

These CLE presentations will take place Thursday, October 1, 2015 at the CLE offices. Click here to register for “Legal Writing in the Smartphone Age,” click here to register for “Writing to Win,” and click here to register for both programs. These programs are also available as webcasts.

Search and Seizure Law in Colorado: Update and Overview

Search-SeizureThe Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Since its ratification in 1791, the Fourth Amendment has been examined in myriad fact situations in thousands of cases. Practically every word in the Fourth Amendment has been adjudicated, in cases ranging from the mundane to the insane:

  • Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983): The police received an anonymous letter implicating Susan and Lance Gates in a drug trafficking scheme. Police corroborated details of the anonymous letter and were able to obtain a warrant to search the Gates’ home and car. The search was held to be valid even though the informant was anonymous.
  • People v. Leftwich, 869 P.2d 1260 (Colo. 1994): An anonymous note claimed defendant was an active drug dealer, but the investigating officer was unable to corroborate the details of the purported drug deals. This was held so insufficient to support probable cause that the warrant was not saved by the good faith exception, and all evidence was suppressed.
  • Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165, 173 (1952): Police forcibly entered defendant’s room and saw him put two capsules into his mouth. They were unable to extract the pills and took the defendant to the hospital, where a doctor forced him to vomit. The Supreme Court held the warrantless conduct “shocks the conscience” and offends a “sense of justice.”
  • People v. Thompson, 820 P.2d 1160, 1164 (Colo. App. 1991): Officers doing surveillance for a drug buy saw defendant swallow something as they approached. They got a warrant for an x-ray, which showed a drug-filled balloon. The court ruled that any intrusion from the x-ray was minimal and since police clearly saw defendant swallow an object, the search was reasonable.
  • United States v. Booker, 728 F.3d 535 (6th Cir. 2013): After a valid arrest, defendant was strip-searched at the police station, and officers saw a string sticking out of his anus. Defendant tried to push it in further, and was transported to the hospital where eventually he was sedated, intubated, and paralyzed, and 5 grams of crack cocaine was retrieved from his rectum. The court held that the search, which was initially lawful, went too far without a warrant.
  • Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 917 (1995): While executing a search warrant, officers found the door to defendant’s home open and walked in, unannounced. Defendant argued the search was unreasonable because the officers did not knock and announce their presence. The Supreme Court agreed, reversing the trial court’s order to the contrary and ruling that a search warrant executed without a knock and announce may sometimes be unreasonable.
  • People v. King, 292 P.3d 959, 963 (Colo. App. 2011): Officers executed a valid search warrant for a hotel room and found no drugs, but requested that defendant remove his pants and eventually removed drugs from his anus. The court ruled that even a valid search warrant that specifies a search “on a person” does not authorize a strip search.

These are some of the many examples of issues arising from Fourth Amendment cases as highlighted by Attorney H. Morley Swingle, author of CLE in Colorado’s new book, Search and Seizure Law in Colorado. Swingle will discuss these cases and more at his entertaining program, “Search & Seizure Law in Colorado: Update and Overview,” on Friday, September 18, 2015. Click the links below to register or call (303) 860-0608.

CLE Program: Search & Seizure Law in Colorado: Update and Overview

This CLE presentation will take place Friday, September 18, 2015 at the CLE offices. Click here to register for the live program or click here to register for the webcast.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here – CD • Video OnDemand • MP3

Dignity to All Persons: CBA-CLE to Host LGBT Law Institute

LGBTOn June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In reaching this conclusion, the majority relied on four principles and traditions that demonstrate marriage is a fundamental right under the Constitution, and applies with equal force to same-sex couples.

The first premise is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. The second principle in the Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. The third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation and education. Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s cases and our Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of the Nation’s social order. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy stated:

The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it disparages their choices and diminishes their personhood to deny them this right.

What is the case law, legislation and culture surrounding the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender journey to this holding? Attend the Colorado Bar Association CLE’s Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Law Institute on September 24-25, 2015, and hear not only from Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Marquez, but also from Colorado Senator Pat Steadman on the LGBT legal history and landscape in our State and our Nation. Learn about changes in government programs after the Windsor case, and about LGBT issues in both the employment law and immigration contexts. Also find out about how to reach out to the LGBT community and the logistics of navigating through such legal issues as changing one’s name and Social Security if you are a transgender person.

The Institute will showcase many points of view. On August 13, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed a finding from May 2014 from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the Masterpiece Cakeshop’s policy of turning away a same-sex couple’s request for a cake violates Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The speaker at the Institute will address the topic from the perspective of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. Learned legal scholars will also discuss the salient points from both the majority and dissenting opinions in the Obergefell case. Religious freedoms in connection with LGBT issues will also be discussed.

There are many more topics to be found when you register here. We’ll see you in the front row on September 24-25.

CLE Program: Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Law Institute

This CLE presentation will take place Thursday, September 24, and Friday, September 25, 2015 at the CLE offices. Click here to register for the live program or click here to register for the webcast.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here – CD • Video OnDemand • MP3

10 iPad Apps for Use in the Office and the Courtroom

PrintThink of the first courtroom you were ever in. Was there a flip chart? An easel? A projector and slides? Or was there a sophisticated plasma TV screen and electronic system so attorneys could showcase their best evidence through their tablets? That last example may not have appeared in your first courtroom, but it certainly is becoming a common sight today.

Attorney Jason Márquez of Johnson Márquez Legal Group uses an iPad in every courtroom presentation where the judge allows it. Using apps like Adobe, Evernote, and Pocket Scan, he can create a compelling courtroom presentation to highlight favorable evidence while minimizing costs associated with photocopying and creating exhibit notebooks. Márquez believes so strongly in using iPads in his practice that he provides them to every member of his firm. He uses several apps, but suggests these ten apps as must-haves for office use and courtroom presentations:

  1. Adobe Acrobat® is multi-platform, PDF solution that allows you to work with all kinds of documents to: View, Create, Manipulate, Print, Combine files.
  2. GoodReader® is the super-robust PDF reader for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Sync with Dropbox, OneDrive, any FTP or SFTP server. Sync entire folders or individual files separately.
  3. DropBox® is a folder on your computer that synchronizes your files online and across computers. Any files you place within it will be available on your other computers with Dropbox, as well as the web.
  4. Evernote® is designed for note-taking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments.
  5. Pocket Cloud® is a secure and fast way to remotely connect to your Mac or Windows desktop with your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device no matter where you are. Access your files, pictures, and applications like Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop, games or any other program.
  6. Tiny Scan® turns your iPhone/iPad into a portable scanner. Scans are saved to your phone as images or PDFs. Name and organize your scans into folders, or share them by: Email, Dropbox, Evernote, DropBox, Wi-Fi to your computer, Fax (using TinyFax).
  7. Dragon® Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.
  8. Prezi® is a presentation tool that can be used as an alternative to traditional slide making programs such as PowerPoint or Keynote. Instead of slides, Prezi makes use of one large canvas that allows you to pan and zoom to various parts of the canvas and emphasize the ideas presented there.
  9. Casemaker® is an alternative legal research tool to LexisNexis and Westlaw. It allows users to search and browse a variety of legal information such as statutes, regulations, and case law on the Web. Casemaker comes free with your CBA membership!
  10. JuryPad® assists with voir dire in different jurisdictions. Create custom seating charts for any courtroom. Add or modify a juror’s information including age, occupation, education, prior jury service, and much more.

Márquez will present on “The iPad Advantage” at the 2015 Colorado Legal & Technology Expo on Friday, August 21, 2015 at the Warwick Hotel in downtown Denver. Entrance to the Expo is free, and Márquez’s CLE program is only $19 for CBA members. Join us at the Warwick on Friday and learn how you can increase your productivity—and your bottom line.

2015 Colorado Legal & Technology Expo

The 2015 Colorado Legal & Technology Expo will take place on Friday, August 21, 2015 at the Warwick Hotel in Denver. Entrance to the Expo is free. Each 50-minute CLE program is $19 for CBA members and $39 for non-CBA members. Register for the event and find more information here.

Business Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) Expanding Exponentially

DroneDrones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV), are not just for hobbyists anymore. Drones are devices that are used for flight in the air without an onboard pilot. Drones can be small and simple, such as remote-controlled aircraft popularized by hobbyists, or large and complex, like the surveillance aircraft used by the military in hostile areas. The military has been using drones for many years to conduct surveillance and deliver weapons in dangerous war zones. However, in the last several years, civilian and business use of drones has increased dramatically.

Non-military drone use is categorized into public aircraft operations and civil operations. Public aircraft operations are uses by public agencies or organizations of a particular aircraft for a particular purpose in a particular area. Public operation uses can include law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, search and rescue, and military training. Civil operations are any operations that do not meet the statutory criteria for public aircraft operations, including business uses such as for agricultural purposes, construction, security, TV and movie industry uses, environmental monitoring, insurance, aerial photography, news media, and much more.

Because they utilize airspace for their operations, drones are regulated by the FAA. In 2013, the FAA issued a comprehensive plan for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the country’s airspace. In early 2015, the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for small UAS. The goal of the proposed rules is to provide a framework of regulations to allow routine use of certain small UAS while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future changes in technology. The public comment period for the proposed rules ended April 24, 2015.

Businesses wishing to utilize drones must obtain a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA. Petitions for Section 333 Exemption must be filed with and approved by the FAA before the drone may be used for business purposes. The FAA can also grant businesses the right to use airspace via Special Airworthiness Certificates. Special Airworthiness Certificates are available for research and development or experimental aircraft.

Attorney Thomas Dougherty, II, head of Lewis Roca Rothgerber’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Industry Team, will discuss drone law at CLE on July 28, 2015. Topics to be explored include potential drone uses, FAA regulations covering drones, required information for petitions for Section 333 Exemption, Certificates of Waiver or Authorization, the FAA’s enforcement authority, and legal issues arising out of state and local laws for the use of drones. Register now by clicking the links below or calling (303) 860-0608.

CLE Program: Drones for Lawyers: The Do’s and Don’ts for Clients

This CLE presentation will take place Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at the CLE offices. Click here to register for the live program or click here to register for the webcast.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here – Video OnDemand – MP3


Let’s Talk About Beer (Law)

BeerColorado loves its beer. Denver is the nation’s former microbrew capital and microbreweries throughout the state continue to thrive. Naturally, because beer business is big business, beer law became a practice area.

Manufacturing and selling alcohol is highly regulated, and microbreweries must comply with myriad state and federal alcohol regulations in addition to standard business regulations. Beyond the regulatory side of beer law, though, are intellectual property concerns. Recently, New Belgium Brewery has been involved in a publicized case about trademark rights to its Slow Ride Session IPA.

New Belgium filed for trademark protection for its Slow Ride IPA, which was granted without opposition by the USPTO. Later, it learned that Oasis Texas Brewing Co. was producing a beer named Slow Ride Pale Ale. According to New Belgium, the Fort Collins brewery offered to resolve the issue amicably in order to allow both breweries to continue to use the Slow Ride name in certain locations, but Oasis refused, instead issuing a cease and desist letter to New Belgium in which it demanded that all products bearing the Slow Ride name be destroyed and profits from Slow Ride given to Oasis. (Oasis claims New Belgium tried to “strong arm” it into accepting a joint use agreement and says that all negotiations with New Belgium have devolved into hostility.) New Belgium eventually filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, seeking exclusive use of the Slow Ride name pursuant to its trademark. Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction over the Texas-based defendants.

The Slow Ride dispute is far from the first trademark dispute to arise from craft beer. Ohio-based Great Lakes Brewing agreed to change the name of its Alchemy IPA as a result of a trademark conflict with the Craft Beer Alliance. Innovation Brewery, a small craft brewery in North Carolina, was accused by Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery of infringing on its trademarked slogan, “bottling innovation since 1985.” Boulder-based Kettle and Stone Brewing Co. agreed to change its name after contact from California’s Stone Brewing Co. Lagunitas Brewery in California dropped its lawsuit against Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. after public outrage at its comparison of the two beer companies’ IPA logos. The list goes on and on.

Later this month, CLE will host its annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property Institute. The plenary session, “Innovation & Disruption: How Crafty Micro-brews are Shaking Up the Beer Industry,” features attorney Michael Drumm of Drumm Law Group, LLC and Chris Hill of Odyssey Beerworks Brewery & Taproom in Arvada. The Rocky Mountain IP Institute will also feature a beer tasting this year. To register, click the link below.

CLE Program: The 13th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property Institute

This CLE presentation will take place from Thursday, May 28 through Friday, May 29, 2015. Click here to register.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here – CDMP3


New Legal Technology: Reduced Risk, Increased Flexibility, Automated Systems—Better for Lawyers

tech-lawIt’s estimated that 90% of lawyers use mobile to check email; 34% of lawyers use tablets in the courtroom; 27% of law firms have legal blogs; 10% of individual lawyers have blogs; 48% use a tablet at work (and the tablet is capturing laptop share); 17% use litigation support software; 39% of blogs resulted in clients or referrals; 40% of solos and 30% of all lawyers use cloud services; and 58% use Dropbox to transfer and store files. Technology (including legal technology) moves fast, with new products and updates arriving at a dizzying pace.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this burgeoning technology resulted in less time in the office and an increase in billings? Many attorneys are finding this to be the case. Automating systems and keeping better track of files and cases has actually resulted in more flexibility and peace of mind for attorneys, even those having to juggle more responsibilities. In addition, smaller firms have discovered by using new technologies they are able to better compete with larger firms.

This year’s first Colorado Legal Technology Expo is October 27-28, 2014, at the CBA-CLE offices in Denver. The Legal Technology Expo is free and the place for the technology and legal communities to interact and to mutually benefit.

Not only will there be legal technology companies exhibiting, but short, educational seminars offered on the latest in technology for the legal community. Legal technology tips and best practices will be shared by experts with topics that include: Managing Interruption and Info Overload; Cloud Security; E-Recording; Using the Latest in Technology to Market Your Law Firm; and 5 Technologies Every Lawyer Should be Using Today.

We invite you to drop by, even for an hour or two, to the free Legal Tech Expo. Click here to find out more and to register for the 20-30 minute educational seminars.

CLE Program: The 2014 Colorado Legal Technology Expo

This CLE presentation will take place from Monday, October 27 through Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Click here to register.


Colorado Supreme Court Reverses Years of Precedent in Softrock and Western Logistics

It is advantageous to employers to retain the services of independent contractors when possible. Contractors are not required to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance and employers need not pay unemployment tax out of the contractors’ wages. However, classifying workers as contractors has its risks; after an audit, the employer may be found liable for back taxes on workers who are found to be employees rather than contractors.

That is precisely what happened to Carpet Exchange in 1993, when the Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Carpet Exchange of Denver v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 859 P.2d 278 (Colo. App. 1993). The court of appeals analyzed C.R.S. § 8-70-115(1)(b) and, after applying the factors, decided that the workers in question were employees rather than contractors because they were not “customarily engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession, or business related to the service performed.” Since then, courts have relied on this one-factor test to determine whether long-term workers are employees or contractors.

Industrial Claim Appeals Office v. Softrock Geological Services, 2014 CO 30 (Colo. May 12, 2014), reversed that precedent. In Softrock, the Colorado Supreme Court rejected the outside employment test as dispositive of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, ruling instead that the totality of the circumstances must be considered and no single factor can be dispositive in deciding whether an individual is customarily engaged in an independent business or trade.

Michael Santo, lead counsel in Softrock, will present a lunchtime program on Friday, August 22, 2014 at the CLE offices to discuss Softrock‘s impact on employment law. Santo will also discuss Western Logistics, Inc. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 2014 CO 31 (Colo. May 12, 2014), a related opinion that the supreme court delivered the same day as Softrock. Employment attorneys, business attorneys, and in-house counsel should attend this informative lunchtime program.

CLE Program: Independent Contractor or Employee? Softrock‘s and Western Logistics‘ Effect

This CLE presentation will take place on August 22, 2014. Click here to register for the live program and click here to register for the webcast. You can also register by phone at (303) 860-0608.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here — MP3 audio downloadVideo OnDemand

6 Ways To Overcome Fear of Failure

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the ALPS 411 blog on August 11, 2014. Reprinted with permission.

SusanCartierLiebelBy Susan Cartier Liebel

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone ~ Neale Donald Walsh

We’ve all been there. We are so morbidly afraid to fail. So afraid, in fact, we find ourselves paralyzed and simply can’t take the next step forward. Not one. And when it comes to starting a solo practice or taking on a legal matter one grade level above our expertise or leaving the Big Law job you hate, you name it, it can cripple us and severely limit our futures.

This fear is quite possibly the single strongest force holding people down far below their professional and personal potential. In a crazy world full of uncertainty, a roller coaster economy, the myriad of unexpected disasters that could happen to anyone at any time, isn’t it easy to see why most people will take the safest route possible, the tried and true?

But this is where the joke is on us: playing it safe has risk as well. If you never give yourself permission to fail, your success in life will have clear self-imposed limits. Most people grossly underestimate their recuperative powers if they don’t succeed. This underestimation leads them to pass on valuable opportunities that come knocking. And we’ve all read with awe and longing the stories of those who failed often, failed big and then rose to the top with incredible success. It’s part of our business folklore!

If you are reading this, chances are you want to open a solo practice. Here are a few strategies that can help you put risk and reward of opening up your own business in perspective. It may even help you to challenge the fears which have been holding you back from taking the plunge.

1. Missed opportunities don’t happen without a cost – Without taking risk, you can’t take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. While a steady paycheck may sound appealing, a pink slip can hit you upside the head without warning, too. But, even in with this possibility, your life can still be pleasing and predictable, quiet and reasonably fulfilling. However, the odds of you creating something original are very low and most likely you will not leave any lasting mark on the world. (And that’s not to say that’s a bad thing.) But the reality is today’s careers are dynamic, not static and you may not have the luxury of a pleasing and predictable life. Career planning is less about planning and more about being continuously alert to opportunities that present themselves to you spontaneously. You need to be able to respond. Therefore, the ideal career is one where there is a wide range of opportunities (some more risky, some less) that together form a relatively safe career choice with a high upside for growth. Taking some of these high risk opportunities is essential because at the end of the day, they offer the greatest upside for reward.

2. Banish Ignorance – What we don’t know is the source of most fear. Eliminate the paralyzing power of fear by learning and understanding what you are up against. Research and be aware of all the possible outcomes (both the good and the bad) so you can get both a macro and micro picture of the benefits of success and the risks of failure. This analysis will help you see beyond the fear and help you make a more reasoned and dispassionate decision. Learn what it really means to run your own business as a lawyer. Talk to lawyers who are doing it; talk to lawyers who have done it and now are doing something else. Educate yourself. It is the most powerful antidote to fear.

3. And if you fail? – Know how long it will take you to recover if you fail. Odds are it will be less time than you think and not as financially disruptive as you fear. Is the fear of a few potentially difficult months so strong it can keep you in a mediocre or miserable situation indefinitely?

4. Understand the benefits of failure – While I say there is no such thing as failure if you try (only not trying is failure) others believe you can fail and should fail and should fail often. So if you are in this category know that every failure is an experiment and an opportunity to grow. Sometimes, even if the failure impacts you financially, oftentimes the knowledge you accumulate from the experience can be worth the financial downside. It can even position you for the next opportunity which will help you not only recoup the losses but take you further in your life than you would have gone otherwise. In the corporate world, it is well known that managers prefer to hire someone who tried to start a company and failed than someone who has always been strictly corporate. It is true in the legal world, too. Many who have gone solo have been offered jobs because they showed initiative, took risks, showed they could wear multiple hats and hustle. That the solo practice wasn’t a raging success didn’t matter to the hiring lawyer. The initiative, chutzpah and self-taught education the lawyer received is what mattered.

5. Have a Plan BContingency plans (or a safety net) are yet another way to minimize risk. If Plan A doesn’t work out you always have Plan B. Sometimes just knowing there is a Plan B makes it easier to move forward with Plan A. I find, depending upon the situation, having contingency plans allows me to take more risks and take them with greater confidence simply because I know it’s not ‘do or die.’

6. Start Moving – Sometimes the best way to climb the mountain is not to look at the mountain peak but down at your feet and put one foot in front of the other. As soon as you take the first step you begin to gain experience and education. We’ve all been there. Everything is or seems hardest the first time we do it quite simply because we’ve never done it before. So, you just put one foot in front of the other, build up momentum and rhythm and as you get closer to your goal, the fear of not succeeding seems less overwhelming.

How have you addressed your fears?

Susan Cartier Liebel is the Founder & CEO of Solo Practice University® (solopracticeuniversity.com), the only educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students designed for those who want to create and grow their solo or small firm practices.

A coach/consultant for solos and small firms, an attorney who started her own practice right out of law school, a Member of the Suffolk School of Law – Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation advisory board charged with guiding the Institute’s future, an Entrepreneur Advisor for Law Without Walls, an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law for eight years teaching law students how to open their own legal practices right out of law school, a columnist for LawyersUSA Weekly, the Connecticut Law Tribune, The Complete Lawyer, and Law.com, she has contributed to numerous online publications such as Forbes.com, legal publications and books on this topic as well as the issues facing women in the workforce. She speaks frequently to law schools and professional organizations around the country on issues facing solos, offering both practical knowledge and inspiration. She can be contacted at: susan@solopracticeuniversity.com.

CLE is hosting Hanging Your Shingle this weekend. If you are ready to overcome your fears and hang your shingle, this program is for you. Order the homestudy below.

CLE Program: Hanging Your Shingle

This CLE presentation will take place on August 14  through 16, 2014. Click here to order the CD homestudy – click here to order the Video OnDemand homestudy – click here to order the MP3 Audio Download homestudy. You can also order by phone at (303) 860-0608.

Walking the Talk: An Interview with Judy Mares-Dixon

JudyMaresDixonJudy Mares-Dixon, M.A., is well experienced in conflict resolution. Since 1986, she has been working in the dispute resolution field as a trainer, mediator, coach, facilitator, consultant, and dispute resolution systems designer. We are honored to have Judy return to CLE for our 40 Hour Mediation Training beginning on August 11, and are excited to present an interview with Judy.

CLE: Thank you for allowing us to interview you. First, what brought you to the field of conflict resolution?

Judy: I was working full-time as a contract negotiator for the state. I really enjoyed the high-energy interaction and the relationship with customers from around the state. I’ve always been fueled by negotiations. I found out that the City of Boulder was looking for mediators to help resolve landlord-tenant and neighbor-neighbor disputes, so I went through their training course — it’s similar to the 40 Hour course I teach at CLE — and absolutely loved it. I continued working full-time for the state and would mediate for Boulder’s program at night. Some nights, I would return home at 9 o’clock or later and could not sleep because I was so charged up from the excitement of the mediation. The interaction between people who start out so far apart, and their capacity to find intelligent solutions, is fascinating to me.

CLE: What is your favorite part of doing dispute resolution?

Judy: My favorite part is assisting people who have not been able to get through their conflicts to analyze their situation and come up with smart solutions. I love being able to effectively analyze situations and find the pros and cons of a variety of ideas and really assist people in finding the best solutions for everyone, especially in situations where one or more parties think it’s hopeless. I love really thinking about what it’s going to take to solve the problem.

CLE: How do you apply the techniques you teach to your day-to-day life?

Judy: There is always an exchange in business. My colleagues and I are always looking at our projects to decide who is going to do which project, whose skills match best with the job at hand, and we negotiate. I think one of the keys to being a successful mediator is that you have to walk the talk – it is critically important to the job. I work with a small number of associates and we’ve been together for several years. The reason we work so well together and have such a fun, respectful relationship, is that we all walk the talk. We expect high quality work — we expect perfection and are hard on ourselves — but we are good at what we do because we walk the talk. It’s critically important to success as a mediator.

CLE: You mentioned situations where one or more parties think it’s hopeless. Can you share with us a story of a conflict that seemed impossible that you helped resolve?

Judy: I once did a mediation for five physicians who co-owned a practice. Two of the physicians were very senior and three were very junior — new to medicine and new to the practice. Three of the physicians had serious conflicts with each other. There were concerns as to whether everyone was doing their fair share — bringing enough business and revenue to the practice, contributing the right amount. They came to me because they were not sure if they should try to work together or if there should be a buy-out of some of the partners. They felt hopeless and frustrated to say the least — they weren’t getting what they wanted from one another. Ultimately, they decided to stay together in the practice. We developed a monthly evaluation tool so the partners could evaluate who was bringing in revenue and how the work load was shared.

One other thing they were quick to identify was how poorly they responded to conflicts. Three of them would duck and run, one would try to bring the issue to the table, and the other would get aggressive. We worked out a plan for how they could address their concerns when conflicts arise in the future, and expected time frames for resolution of future conflicts.


CLE is honored to have Judy return for our 40 Hour Mediation Training. Join us on August 11, 12, 13, 18, and 19 for our 40 Hour Mediation Training with renowned mediator Judy Mares-Dixon. To register, click the links below or call (303) 860-0608.

CLE Program: 40 Hour Mediation Training

This CLE presentation will take place on August 11, 12, 13, 18, and 19, 2014. Click here to register for the live program. You can also register by phone at (303) 860-0608.