August 22, 2017

Rules Governing Admission to the Bar Amended in Rule Change 2017(05)

On Monday, May 15, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court released Rule Change 2017(05), amending Rules 203.2 and 203.4 of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar. The changes to the two rules extend the time in which an applicant may take the mandatory professionalism course prior to admission from one year to 18 months. The amendment was adopted and effective May 11, 2017. A redline of the changes is available here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Congratulations to Colorado’s Newest Attorneys

The Colorado Supreme Court just released the results of the July 2015 bar exam. Congratulations to all the people who passed the bar! Welcome to the Colorado legal community.

Of the 799 test takers, 576 or 72% passed. The University of Colorado had 143 test takers, of whom 126 or 88% passed, and the University of Denver had 225 test takers, of whom 168 or 75% passed. National law schools, including Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Duke, Michigan, Chicago, California Berkeley, Virginia, and Texas, were represented by 41 test takers, of whom 37 or 90% passed.

We at Colorado CLE wish you the best as you begin your careers. We invite you to check out our New Lawyer Edge program, where attorneys in their first five years of practice can get discounts on CLE programs and free attendance at all “Build Your Practice” programs. For lawyers who have been in practice five years or more, we have the CLE Pass, also providing discounts and free attendance on certain CLE programs.

Don’t forget: if you haven’t already, you are required to take our Practicing with Professionalism course. This is a mandatory program and is a condition of admission to the Colorado Bar. Click here to find a class.

The Future of Law (Part Four): The Democratization of the Law

rhodesWe looked last time at the globalization megatrend and its impact on the law. Democratization is another megatrend having similar impact. It’s not just about flash political revolutions, it applies in other spheres as well, particularly technology, information, and — of particular interest to lawyers — knowledge.

The legal profession, like others, has long enjoyed protected status as a commercial monopoly characterized by the specialized knowledge and skill (e.g., professional judgment and the ability to “think like a lawyer”) of its members. Not just anybody can practice law or do so correctly — that’s been the creed, and the non-lawyer public has agreed (they don’t always like lawyers, but they like their lawyer).

Democratization is changing that. The “lawyers know best” ethos has eroded. Non-lawyer legal service practitioners and their customers have stormed the professional citadel, gobbling up free access to legal knowledge and putting it to work for themselves. Lawyers can argue all day that they practice law better than non-lawyers, but we’re talking to ourselves. Knowledge is power, and democratization is on a mission to give that power to the people.

The specialized knowledge that was formerly the sole province of the profession must be transformed under this non-professional handling. To recognize that this is already happening and predict we’ll see more of it is to come late to the party. So I’ll make the only prediction left to make: not only is the democratization of the law going to continue, but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Anything that starts with “Wiki” is at the forefront of the democratization of knowledge. The creation of a common people’s knowledge base is empowering, and there’s been a lot of euphoria over full and free access to information and the creation of a citizen-based common body of knowledge. But second thoughts about all this are surfacing from within the revolution’s highest ranks: Larry Sanger, one of the Wikipedia founders, left to start a competitor he’s calling Citizendium. Why? To provide an expanded role for experts in the determination of what knowledge is worth knowing.

Sanger’s Citizendium manifesto is entitled Who Says We Know: On the New Politics of Knowledge. We’ll let him speak his piece at some length here, since his framing of the issues is spot on for the legal profession:

So today, if you want to find out what “everybody knows,” you aren’t limited to looking at what The New York Times and Encyclopedia Britannica are taking for granted. You can turn to online sources that reflect a far broader spectrum of opinion than that of the aforementioned “small, elite group of professionals.” Professionals are no longer needed for the bare purpose of the mass distribution of information and the shaping of opinion. The hegemony of the professional in determining our background knowledge is disappearing—a deeply profound truth that not everyone has fully absorbed.

The votaries of Web 2.0, and especially the devout defenders of Wikipedia, know this truth very well indeed. In their view, Wikipedia represents the democratization of knowledge itself, on a global scale, something possible for the first time in human history. Wikipedia allows everyone equal authority in stating what is known about any given topic. Their new politics of knowledge is deeply, passionately egalitarian.

Today’s Establishment is nervous about Web 2.0 and Establishment-bashers love it, and for the same reason: its egalitarianism about knowledge means that, with the chorus (or cacophony) of voices out there, there is so much dissent, about everything, that there is a lot less of what “we all know.” Insofar as the unity of our culture depends on a large body of background knowledge, handing a megaphone to everyone has the effect of fracturing our culture.

As wonderful as it might be that the hegemony of professionals over knowledge is lessening, there is a downside: our grasp of and respect for reliable information suffers. With the rejection of professionalism has come a widespread rejection of expertise—of the proper role in society of people who make it their life’s work to know stuff. This, I maintain, is not a positive development; but it is also not a necessary one. We can imagine a Web 2.0 with experts. We can imagine an Internet that is still egalitarian, but which is more open and welcoming to specialists. The new politics of knowledge that I advocate would place experts at the head of the table, but—unlike the old order—gives the general public a place at the table as well.

In other words, as cool as the unrestrained democratization of knowledge may be, we may still need experts and professionals after all. At least one Wikipedia founder thinks so.

It’s a fascinating debate, but now that we’ve given it an airing, we’ll turn to further predictions about how the democratization of the law will change it in ways “not everyone has fully absorbed” or — especially for many in the profession — will absorb any time soon.

Kevin Rhodes has been a lawyer for nearly 30 years, in firms large and small, and in solo practice. Years ago he left his law practice to start a creative venture, and his reflections on exiting the law practice appeared in an article in the August 2014 issue of The Colorado Lawyer. His free ebook, Life Beyond Reason: A Memoir of Mania, chronicles his misadventures in leaving the law, and the lessons he learned about personal growth and transformation, which are the foundation of much of what he writes about here.

A collection of Kevin’s blog posts, Enlightenment, Apocalypse, and Other States of Mind, is now available as an ebook. Click the book title to sample and download it from the distributor’s webpage. It’s also available on from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Amazon, and Scribd. The collection includes Forewords from Debra Austin, author of the Killing Them Softly law journal article which has been featured here, and from Ron Sandgrund, author of The Colorado Lawyer article mentioned above.

You can email Kevin at kevin@rhodeslaw.com.

ALPS 411: I Believe First Impressions Matter. Do You?

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the ALPS 411 blog on January 13, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

Mark3By Mark Bassingthwaighte

Like you, I’ve been a consumer for years and the older I get the more I’ve come to recognize the impact of first impressions. They really do matter. I can only speak for me, but these days if I am forced to interact with a pushy sales person when first entering a store, I often leave and rarely return. If I’m shopping online and a website fails to load properly because it’s outdated or it’s simply hard to navigate, I’m gone. If a grocery store is unclean, I will walk out and shop elsewhere. Heck, everyone knows that you can judge the quality of the food an unfamiliar restaurant serves by the number and types of vehicles in the parking lot, don’t they? First impressions matter and I don’t think I’m alone in believing this. If you agree, I would ask if you’ve taken steps to set the right impression at your own firm because it’s certainly going to be easier to establish and maintain an effective and trusting attorney client relationship if a potential new client’s first impression is a positive one.

Consider this. I have walked into more than a firm or two for the first time where I was placed in an unkempt reception area or an absolutely cluttered and dirty conference room featuring broken furniture. Some of these spaces looked more like old storage rooms than the client areas that they were. I have also been kept waiting for 30 to 60 minutes past my appointment time without explanation and on several occasions even forgotten about entirely. I have been the recipient of cold greetings by staff and treated by reception as if I was a bother. Such experiences can’t help but result in setting an impression. That’s normal. Now put yourself in my shoes. What might your response to any of the above experiences have been? If your own clients were to have a similar experience, what might their response be? I can share my initial response was to begin to question the business and even legal acumen of the attorneys who practiced there. Certainly my initial opinions were open to being changed, but it was now going to be an uphill climb.

First impressions are made at first contact, be it calling for an appointment, looking you up on the Internet, or walking through your front door. They are often set before you even have a chance to meet with a prospective new client. It’s all about presentation and experience. Is there a welcoming greeting? Is the space tidy and inviting? Is your website user friendly and functional on multiple platforms to include mobile devices? With all this in mind, I offer the following as ideas to help get you started in thinking about what you can do to try and make certain the right impression is set at first contact.

  • Train staff to greet every individual as soon as possible, certainly within a minute of their entering the office, and remember that even a sales representative who is turned away today may be a prospective client tomorrow. If your receptionist happens to be helping someone else, have them give a simple “Hello, I will be with you in a moment” in order to acknowledge the individual’s presence.
  • Never allow confidential or personal conversations to be overheard by others, particularly in the reception area. If conversations from an employee break area, a conference room, or attorney offices can be heard in reception consider some type of sound proofing. Periodically remind staff and attorneys that confidential or personal matters should never be discussed within earshot of any visitors. In fact, give staff permission to briefly interrupt a client meeting to perhaps shut a door if voices can be overheard in reception or by visitors elsewhere in the office.
  • Do not allow visitors to view computer screens. The receptionist’s computer screen will often have confidential information on it and thus should never be visible to anyone coming into the office.
  • Occasionally check the waiting area during the day. This is an especially good customer service technique. If anyone sitting there seems bored or frustrated and have been in the reception area less than ten minutes, there’s a problem. The space should be designed to make the wait as pleasant as possible. Remember they don’t like having to wait for you any more than you would like having to wait for them if you were in their office. You might even go sit in your own reception area for 10 or 15 minutes just to see how it feels. For example, does the reading material provided fit the clientele? While Scientific American is probably a great choice for an intellectual property practice, it won’t win any points from clients in a family law practice. If families use your waiting area, make sure there are materials suitable for children. All magazines and newspapers should be current as opposed to displaying outdated ones that have a home address label still attached.
  • Keep the reception area clean and orderly because an unkempt reception area is too easily seen as a reflection of the quality of service offered by the firm. Before the attorney-client relationship has even started, a potential new client may already begin to question whether the attorney has enough time to appropriately deal with their matter simply because it appears the attorney already doesn’t have enough time to pick up the place.
  • In a similar vein, do not minimize the importance of appropriate attire. Staff and attorneys alike need to dress the part whenever meeting potential new clients. This isn’t to suggest that casual Fridays and the like are inappropriate. Just be mindful that people will make initial judgments about someone they are meeting for the first time based upon overall appearance. I can share that I have actually walked into a law firm where I was given a nod by the receptionist who was dressed down, reading a romance novel, and chewing gum with her feet on the desk. Suffice it to say, my initial thought was I would never hire anyone in this firm because tolerance for the sloppy appearance suggests a tolerance for sloppy work. The message was they didn’t care.
  • Client information and documents must be kept confidential at all times. If client file material needs to be in the reception area in order for the receptionist to do his work, make sure that wandering eyes can never land on those materials. Never leave client file material, mail, or anything else that might identify a client on the counter or privacy wall around the reception desk.
  • Try to prevent anyone from having to wait longer than ten minutes. Most people are willing to be reasonable and wait a short amount of time for the right lawyer; but don’t expect them to wait as long for their lawyer as they might for their doctor. While medical emergencies do arise, lawyers can rarely claim a legal emergency. If prospective clients are waiting too long, consider altering your scheduling procedures. If a delay is unavoidable, have staff inform them of the delay as quickly as possible and discuss options. Some will wait and others will need to reschedule.
  • Be mindful of the difficulties the receptionist faces when assigned phone answering duties. Confidentiality can easily be breached in a law office when someone in the reception area overhears a phone conversation or a client name.  The receptionist should have a way of notifying attorneys that someone has arrived or that a client is on the phone without being forced to breach client confidentiality. Statements like “Your two o’clock appointment is here” or “you have a call on line one” as opposed to “John Smith is here and he wants to talk with you about getting a divorce” should be acceptable when necessary. Viable alternatives might include the use of privacy glass, email notifications of a waiting call, or the moving of phone answering responsibilities away from the reception area.
  • If your space permits, have visitor areas and work areas separated by a wall or partition. One never knows what impression potential new clients may have when they observe people working. Some may feel they are seeing energetic and busy staff members and take that as a positive sign while others may feel the staff is overworked or unprofessional and conclude the opposite. A wall with a tasteful picture or two is worth the investment. In fact, some firms place all conference room areas near reception and away from work areas for this very reason.
  • Finally, don’t overlook your Web presence. A poorly designed website, a website that doesn’t display properly on a mobile device, or a website that isn’t kept current can send a message about your competency and priorities as well. After all, who wants their lawyer to be someone who appears to think halfway is good enough or perhaps got started on something and then neglected to follow through?

As I shared above, all of this is about presentation and experience. At first contact if your presentation is poor and/or the experience of any potential client is bad, then you’re going to start off on the wrong foot if they even decide to let you get started at all. Do first impressions matter? You bet they do.

Mark Bassingthwaighte, Esq. has been a Risk Manager with ALPS, an attorney’s professional liability insurance carrier, since 1998. In his tenure with the company, Mr. Bassingthwaighte has conducted over 1100 law firm risk management assessment visits, presented numerous continuing legal education seminars throughout the United States, and written extensively on risk management and technology.  Mr. Bassingthwaighte received his J.D. from Drake University Law School and his undergraduate degree from Gettysburg College.

Contact Information:
Mark Bassingthwaighte, Esq.
ALPS Property & Casualty Insurance Company
Risk Manager
PO Box 9169 | Missoula, Montana 59807
(T) 406.728.3113 | (Toll Free) 800.367.2577 | (F) 406.728.7416
mbass@alpsnet.com | www.alpsnet.com

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.

The Future of Law (Part One): Beyond the Borg

rhodesWe finished last year talking about the law profession’s cultural ethos, and how new practice models and wellness initiatives are liberating lawyers from its harmful aspects (the Legal Borg). An earlier 2014 series also looked at alternative practice models. Another considered how the law’s cultural ethos can cause stress-induced cognitive impairment and how mindfulness practice can help.

These developments may have sneaked in unnoticed, but now they’ve become the elephant in the room, and it’s time to deal with them. They’re causing a seismic shift in the profession’s ethos, and a new ethos requires a new ethic: i.e., new standards for how to enter the profession and how to behave once you’re in it.

The ABA Journal published a piece on that very topic on New Year’s Day, entitled “Does The UK Know Something We Don’t About Alternative Business Structures?” The article begins as follows:

For two nations sharing a language and legal history, the contrast in the visions at play in the legal systems of the United States and United Kingdom is more than striking. It’s revolutionary.

The debates in the U.S. go on: Should ethics rules blocking nonlawyer ownership of law firms be lifted? Is the current definition of unlicensed law practice harming rather than protecting clients? What about the restrictions on multidisciplinary practices?

And those debates are by no means ending: Witness the newly created ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. Though ABA President William C. Hubbard does not mention ethics rule changes in the commission’s primary task of identifying the most innovative practices being used in the U.S. to deliver legal services, some of those practices have been questioned as possible ethical breaches. Meanwhile, the rules and restrictions stay in place. The situation in the United Kingdom couldn’t be more different: Such restrictions have largely been lifted, and under the Legal Services Act the creation of new ways of providing legal services—including through alternative business structures—is more than simply permitted; it is actively encouraged.

Nonlawyer ownership of law firms, unlicensed practice, multidisciplinary practice… those are big issues. We’ll let the ABA tackle them. If you’ve been following these issues for awhile, you’ll remember the ABA did just that at their summer convention 17 years ago, and again the following year.

This blog won’t try to keep pace with the pros on that debate’s current version. We will, however, do some guessing of our own about how current trends in law practice and lawyer wellbeing might change not just lawyers and law practice, but our very stock and trade: the law itself. A new cultural ethos in the law will do precisely that. It is already. We’re going to talk about that, and speculate about what it might look like going forward.

According to Wikipedia, futurology is an “attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present.” We’re not going to be systematic here. Instead, we’ll engage in some moderately-well-informed-but-we-don’t-know-what-the-insiders-know curiosity.

Should be fun. So draw the shades and polish up your crystal ball (maybe you prefer this kind, or maybe that) and let’s take a look!

Kevin Rhodes has been a lawyer for nearly 30 years, in firms large and small, and in solo practice. Years ago he left his law practice to start a creative venture, and his reflections on exiting the law practice appeared in an article in the August 2014 issue of The Colorado Lawyer. His free ebook, Life Beyond Reason: A Memoir of Mania, chronicles his misadventures in leaving the law, and the lessons he learned about personal growth and transformation, which are the foundation of much of what he writes about here.

A collection of Kevin’s blog posts, Enlightenment, Apocalypse, and Other States of Mind, is now available as an ebook. Click the book title to sample and download it from the distributor’s webpage. It’s also available on from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Amazon, and Scribd. The collection includes Forewords from Debra Austin, author of the Killing Them Softly law journal article which has been featured here, and from Ron Sandgrund, author of The Colorado Lawyer article mentioned above.

You can email Kevin at kevin@rhodeslaw.com.

IAALS: Integrating More Professionalism and Ethics into Law School Curriculum

This post originally appeared on IAALS Onlinethe blog for IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, on February 10, 2014.

Alli_Gerkman_bw_2014By Alli Gerkman

In his Voices from the Field interview, Bill Walters, Partner at Heizer Paul and former president of the Colorado Bar Association, suggests that law schools need to expose students to the various career options they have following law school, which extend far beyond the traditional big firm practice of law. For example, dual degree programs, like dual J.D./M.B.A. programs, allow law students to use the skills they’ve learned in combination with business skills to potentially and more successfully run a business after graduating.

As to better preparing law students for practice, Walters suggests that the first year curriculum should remain largely traditional through use of the Socratic method and fundamental courses. However, in the second and third year of law school, professors should use different pedagogical methods to teach students, like experiential course offerings. Walters also underscores the importance of having practicing attorneys teach students.

Finally, Walters advocates for integrating more professionalism and ethics into law school curriculum to help produce law school graduates that are better prepared for the practice of law and serving clients. He suggests that schools need exposure to these issues beyond the Rules of Professional Conduct. By “infusing” the curriculum with ethical issues, students can better understand the issues in the context of practice. Walters suggests that a student who attends a law school that emphasizes professionalism by modeling ethical behaviors will have an advantage interviewing with law firms and will increase the potential for the student to get hired.

Hear more of Bill Walters’ suggestions for reforming legal education in his Voices from the Field interview below.

William E. (“Bill”) Walters, III, has practiced law for more than 36 years in Denver, Colorado. His practice focuses on advising nonprofit organizations, trade and professional associations, and for-profit business entities. Bill also has expertise in antitrust and trade regulation law. 

From 1978 to 1981, Bill was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Colorado. He was President of the Denver Bar Association from 2001 to 2002 and is a former Chair of the Colorado Lawyers Committee. He was President of the Colorado Bar Association from 2008 to 2009 and served on its Executive Council and Board of Governors for many years. 

Alli Gerkman became the first full-time Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, a national initiative to align legal education with the needs of an evolving profession, in May 2013. She joined IAALS in June 2011 as Online Content Manager, developing and managing all IAALS web properties, including Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, and became IAALS’ Director of Communications in August 2012. She brings significant professional development experience to the initiative, having spent five years in continuing legal education, first as a program attorney organizing multi-day conferences for a national provider and then as program attorney and manager of online content for Colorado Bar Association CLE. While at CBA-CLE, she developed an online legal resource that was the recipient of the Association of Continuing Legal Education’s 2011 Award of Professional Excellence for use of technology in education. She has written and presented nationally to continuing legal education providers, bar executives, and lawyers. Prior to her work in continuing legal education, she was in private practice.

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.

Michael H. Berger to Receive Colorado Bar’s Highest Honor

6113Michael H. Berger will be honored with the Colorado Bar Association’s highest honor, the Award of Merit, at the Colorado Bar Foundation’s Annual Bar Fellows Dinner on Friday, Jan. 10.

In the numerous letters of nominations that were received by the awards committee, the overwhelming praise was to Berger’s intelligence, analytical skill, and commitment to professionalism. Many described him as the definition of a “lawyer’s lawyer,” an extraordinary lawyer and person.  His almost 40 years of service to the profession have been done quietly, without fanfare or self promotion.

“The CBA is comprised of many talented and dedicated lawyers who tirelessly work to improve our system of justice,” Berger said. “To receive this award from such an organization is a tremendous honor.”

Berger is a member of Husch Blackwell’s Financial Services team where he focuses on financial litigation while also handling commercial, appellate, employment and intellectual property litigation matters. He acts as a consultant in legal ethics matters and frequently serves as an expert witness, and is a frequent presenter of CLE programs in the areas of litigation and legal ethics and has authored a number of articles in the area of legal ethics. Berger is a past chair of the CBA Ethics Committee, current chair of the CBA Amicus Brief Committee, and a member of the Colorado Supreme Court Standing Committee on the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. He was recently appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to serve as a judge for the Colorado Court of Appeals.

“Each lawyer who has received the CBA’s Award of Merit has been astonished:  Why me? ” said Past Award of Merit winner Anthony van Westrum.  “But I am sure there is no one — with Mike as the possible exception — who doubts that Michael Berger is entirely deserving of this Award.  Everyone who knows him knows of the constant, quiet, thoroughly competent services he renders to the Association and for the good of the law and the legal system in Colorado.  Even the Governor knows that, for he has just elevated Mike to the Court of Appeals.”

The Award of Merit, the association’s highest honor, is given annually to a member for outstanding service to the association, the legal profession, the administration of justice and the community. Berger and CBA Young Lawyers Division’s Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award recipient Benjamin E. Currier will be honored at the Colorado Bar Foundation’s Annual Bar Fellows Dinner on Friday, Jan. 10, at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center.

Resolve to Be More Civil

becky_byeBy Becky Bye

October is a bit of a new year for attorneys. The month marks a time when the Colorado bar admits hundreds of new attorneys, wide-eyed and anxious to begin practicing law. It is also a time where many law firms and other entities hire new attorneys to allow more senior attorneys to eventually transition out to retirement or other opportunities beyond their current practice.

I suggest, given that this is a time for new beginnings for all attorneys, that all attorneys also assess their practice and make some professional resolutions. One resolution I propose is for attorneys to practice with more civility and add camaraderie to their everyday practice.

The inherent adversarial nature surrounding the practice of law can easily polarize opposing counsel, opposing parties, and other people involved in any legal matter, whether it be a transactional matter or in the course of litigation. Many unfortunately interpret the language that “… a lawyer must act … with zeal in advocacy upon a client’s behalf…” to include unwarranted viciousness toward the opposing counsel, opposing parties, and even attorneys’ own office colleagues and peers. Subsequently, any negativity that results in the course of practicing law can create a negative perception of attorneys by the public and help trigger a general lack of civility within the practice of law.

Over the course of my legal career (which is relatively short in comparison to many others out there), I have often heard people complaining about how mean attorneys can be to each other. I also have heard more senior attorneys lamenting about their observations of newer attorneys being rude and unprofessional. In sum, many attorneys do not take the privilege of practicing law seriously.

Many of these attorneys believe that they cannot reconcile advocacy and respect with getting along with the opposing counsel, or even common decency. However, I beg to differ based on my own observations. All of the most respected legal minds of the Denver community and lawyers known nationally have several things in common. Of course, they were excellent, smart, and diligent legal scholars, but they also were known for their professionalism in all of their interactions.

Additionally, when I recently received the honor of an American Inns of Court Pegasus Scholarship, I was able to witness barristers (masters of the art of “advocacy” on behalf of clients in the United Kingdom) for six weeks in England. One of my foremost observations from this experience, which still resonates with me today, is that in spite of being known for their advocacy and legal eloquence, the barristers, even on opposing sides of a legal matter, worked together to the point where they coordinated a case before a tribunal. I was shocked when I attended breakfasts, lunches, and other meetings, between barristers of opposing parties, to discuss the next chain of events in their trial or hearing and what types of questions they would be asking their witnesses. In the courtrooms themselves, the barristers were pleasant and displayed a substantial amount of fellowship toward each other. It was soon very clear that this was the most effective way to represent clients, as courts and parties in legal proceedings were not bogged down in an unproductive exchange of communications with the intention of bullying the other party. The parties and courts could cut through that superfluous, tangential aspect of legal representation to get to the real issues at hand.

Although I understand the British legal system differs from ours in many respects, and not all aspects of it translate over to our legal system, all attorneys can still learn from trying to resolve small issues among attorneys in a courteous, respectable way. When things get too heated between opposing attorneys, ego and anger can unfortunately drive a case to go in the wrong direction, which is ultimately detrimental for clients and the legal system as a whole.

One of Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary definitions for “professional” is “exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.” I urge you to take this definition to heart as a legal professional, and to conscientiously resolve to be sincerely courteous to everyone you encounter.

This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of The Docket.

Becky Bye is a public attorney. She received her J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2005. Bye is actively involved in the legal community, including serving on the University of Denver Law’s Alumni Council and the DBA Docket Committee. She is a past chair of the CBA Young Lawyers Division. Bye may be reached at beckybye@gmail.com. 

February 2013 Bar Exam Results Released this Morning

The Colorado Supreme Court posted the results of the February 2013 bar exam this morning. Congratulations to the 275 people who passed the bar! Welcome to Colorado’s legal community.

Of the 275 people who passed February’s bar exam, 36 were from University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, and 12 were from CU Law School. There was a 65 percent pass rate from University of Denver and a 57 percent pass rate from CU.

There were 23 people who took the February bar from “national” schools (Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Duke, Michigan, Chicago, California  Berkeley, Virginia, and Texas). The pass rate for students from “national” schools  was 100 percent. The pass rate for all others was 68 percent, or 204 out of 301.

We at CBA-CLE wish all of you the best of luck on the beginnings of your careers. We hope to meet you in our classroom soon. (Don’t forget: if you haven’t stopped by already, you are required to take our Practicing with Professionalism course. This is a mandatory program and is a condition of admission to the Colorado Bar. Click here to find a class.)

John T. Baker Named Director of New Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program

BakerJohnOn Tuesday, February 5, 2013, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced that attorney John T. Baker was named the director of the new Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) in the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. The CAMP program is designed to increase training of new lawyers and provide them more support in order to further one of the main goals of the Chief Justice’s Commission on the Legal Profession.

Mr. Baker is currently a sole practitioner in Denver, concentrating his practice on complex litigation and public interest law. Prior to that, he worked at Bragg & Baker, a plaintiff’s personal injury firm, where he specialized in products liability. Mr. Baker is active with the Denver and Colorado bar associations, and he was president of the DBA in 2008-2009. He also teaches frequently on the topics of professionalism and litigation.

As the director of CAMP, Mr. Baker will partner new lawyers in their first three years of practice with experienced attorneys in order to foster pride in the profession, excellence in the courts, and strong relationships between the bench and bar and the public. Mr. Baker will begin as director on February 25, 2013.

Bennett S. Aisenberg Honored with Award of Merit at Colorado Bar Foundation Annual Dinner

AisenbergFogg

By Sara Crocker

Colorado Bar Association Award of Merit honoree Bennett Aisenberg is more than a great attorney, according to a colleague; in fact, he’s a skilled horticulturist and his garden always bears quite a bounty – it’s one that people can see in law offices across the state.

“[Aisenberg] has germinated seeds in the hearts and minds of many folks who were in the early days of their learning how to practice law,” Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Dick Reeve wrote in his letter of support for Aisenberg to receive the Award of Merit, which CBA President Mark Fogg relayed at the Colorado Bar Foundation Annual Dinner on Jan. 11.

“Those seeds have sprouted into individual professionals who today bring balance, ethics, objectivity, professionalism, and their humaneness to their legal work,” Reeves wrote. “Simply put: Ben has found a way over the years, through his various positions of service to the legal community, of connecting with and mentoring, to varying degrees, what I believe to be hundreds of Colorado lawyers.”

Aisenberg, was strongly impacted by the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird,” knew from a young age that he wanted to be a trial attorney. He said that receiving the association’s highest honor had nearly left him without words, but only nearly.

“I love and admire this profession so much that to be honored by its members is one of the greatest gifts an attorney can get,” he said.

The long-time sole practitioner served as a president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association from 1984 to 1985, president of the Denver Bar Association from 1991 to 1992 and president of the Colorado Bar Association from 1998 to 1999. In 2003, he received the DBA’s Award of Merit — that association’s highest honor. He also has been honored by the Sam Cary and Asian Pacific American Bar Associations.

Aisenberg has been a long-time supporter of the Colorado Bar Foundation, and in 2004 he donated $10,000 to the foundation, which promotes the advancement of jurisprudence and the fair and equal administration of justice through grants that help educate the public and by providing assistance to Colorado’s legal institutions. In recognition of this generous donation, the foundation board created the Aisenberg Society for fellows who donate $10,000 to the foundation over 10 years or less.

Aisenberg has been a luminary on the CBA’s Ethics Committee, comprised of approximately 90 attorneys who offer ethics advice to colleagues and write formal ethics opinions on general ethical conundrums.

“I have found it one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in the legal profession,” he said.

BrownFoggGary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Loren M. Brown also was honored at the dinner.

Brown said after it was announced that he would receive the award he got a flood of emails.

“I think the best one I got said, ‘Congratulations on still being young,’” he said.

The award is given annually to a young lawyer (those under 37 years old or who have been admitted to the bar for less than three years) with an outstanding record of professional success, community service achievements, a strong commitment to civic participation and inspiring others.

Though he is still young, the shareholder with Donelson Ciancio & Grant, P.C. has already accomplished much. He is a former president of the Adams-Broomfield Bar Association, a fellow of the Colorado Bar Foundation, a member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and a graduate and executive committee member of the Colorado Bar Association Leadership Training program, known as COBALT. This year, he was recognized with members of the 17th Judicial District Access to Justice Committee by the Adams-Broomfield Bar Association with its Liberty Bell Award as citizens of the year. In 2011, ABBA awarded him with its Volunteer Attorney of the Year award.

Brown is a part of a local bar association that is on the cutting edge of access to justice in Colorado, Fogg said.

“When I traveled across the state to my local bar associations we talked a lot about access to justice. All of the access to justice committees said we want to be like Adams County. Adams County sets the bar in this state on access to justice programs in this state,” he said.

Brown said he was humbled to receive the award and thanked his mother, who raised him and his sister alone, and his mentor Gene Ciancio.

“I take this as a charge to do more,” Brown said.

Conducting a Client Intake — A Five-Minute Mentor Video

In celebration of Legal Professionalism Month, the Colorado Bar Association is issuing weekly five-minute mentor videos on topics related to professionalism. This week’s video is presented by Peter Goldstein, the co-chair of the CBA’s Professionalism Coordinating Counsel. In this video, he discusses the client intake and potential areas of concern for practitioners.

Client Intake by Peter Goldstein from Colorado Bar Association on Vimeo.