June 17, 2019

Hon. Richard Gabriel Awarded Highest Honor from Denver Bar Association

This is Part 1 of a series of posts about the DBA Award winners. The article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Docket.

GabrielLawyer. Judge. Trumpet Player. These are just a few of the words that describe Richard Gabriel—and none of them comes close to doing him justice. The two-dimension descriptions don’t catch what makes Judge Gabriel so unique—because he’s also the kid from Brooklyn with big dreams, an avid music lover, a grateful mentor, a social enthusiast, a proud family man, and most of all, a consummate professional.

“As a lawyer, you have your credibility and integrity. Once you lose that, you can’t get it back,” Gabriel says. “It’s critically important to take the high road regardless of what your opponent does.”

Gabriel is clearly the rare example of someone who lives by his words. He was the first generation in his family to attend college—at Yale, no less. After graduation, he went on to law school at the University of Pennsylvania. Gabriel spent more than 18 years at Holme Roberts & Owen before being appointed a judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have people and opportunities that opened doors for me,” Gabriel says. “And that’s something, as a mentor, I’ve tried to do for others—it’s part of giving back.”

Citing Dan Hoffman as one of his great mentors, Gabriel says that he gave him the “case of a lifetime.” He worked with Hoffman on a Michael Jackson copyright case, in which a Denver woman claimed she had written Jackson’s hit “Dangerous.” This led to more opportunities for Gabriel to mix his two passions: the law and music. After working on another case for Sony years later, Gabriel was asked to be Local Counsel for Colorado, and later became the Lead National Counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America in its lawsuits against illegal file-sharers.

A strong sense of discipline makes Gabriel successful not only in the law, but also in music. He stills plays his trumpet an hour every day, and can often be found around town playing gigs with groups such as the Colorado Wind Ensemble.

Throughout his impressive career, Gabriel has been a consistent voice advocating for increased professionalism and civility. He explains: “On this side of the bench, I can confirm that Rambo lawyering doesn’t work. You just lose credibility.”

If you need proof that the highest levels of professionalism and civility build a lasting career, look no further than Award of Merit winner Judge Gabriel. He has impacted the legal community in countless ways, from his involvement in the bar association to his renowned work ethic and reputation.

“I’m very surprised and very touched,” Gabriel said of the honor.

Surprised, Judge Gabriel? We can’t think of anyone who is more deserving.



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