April 22, 2019

Emanuel Anton – An Interview with the 2010 Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year

In December 2010, the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division named Emanuel Anton the Gary McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year in recognition of his professional accomplishments and service to the community.  Anton has built a successful law firm – ALG | Attorneys – specializing in aviation and international trade, and he spends his time outside of work advocating for those with Down syndrome.  I sat down with Emanuel in January and chatted with him about his background, his focus on positivity, and how his daughter has inspired his practice.

Emanuel Anton is a passionate expert in aviation and international trade law.  After dabbling in several practice areas at a mid-sized Denver law firm, Anton stumbled into his current line of work by taking on a small pro bono real estate issue for a friend’s father who, unbeknownst to him, was the chief operating officer of an aircraft manufacturer.  At dinner after the pro bono project was complete, this client told Anton that he had earned his trust and offered him his business for aviation and international trade.  Anton confessed that he did not know anything about either subject, but assured his client that he was a quick study and would do his best.  Anton soon fell in love with these two areas of law.

Around this time, Anton had also begun to feel what he describes as an “entrepreneurial itch.”  His father was a small business owner and instilled in him and his siblings a solid work ethic and a mind for business.  Anton branched out on his own in April 2008.  What began with him and a single partner, has expanded to nine lawyers and support staff.  When building his firm, Anton focused on three main ideas: culture, excellence, and attitude.  “I saw how powerful a team could be when everyone worked well together,” Anton says, regarding the importance of building a positive firm culture.  He also encourages the members of his firm to strive for excellence “by being proud of what you do, taking ownership of the work product, and showing others there is value received.”  Anton had also realized how important it was to surround himself with co-workers and clients that are positive.  “Negativity is best kept out of the equation as it feeds off itself.”   “When you do what you love and do it well, boundaries that others place on you are not as limiting.”

Anton has always been a natural at business development.  When speaking to young lawyers about client development, he stresses that everyone is different.  “It takes four to eight months to develop a client relationship and it should be a relationship of give and take.  Selecting the right relationship is half the battle.  It is important to establish trust first.  Once you do, start small, ask for their business on a small project, and build from there.”  He believes a key to his firm’s success has been applying the same focus on culture and attitude with clients as with co-workers.  “Positive people are natural leaders and have a potential for growth.”  Anton wants clients that he would want to see anyway, people that he genuinely appreciates, trusts, and looks forward to spending time with.

His views on positive culture and attitude stem in no small part from his family life.  Anton says that he received a new lens with which to view the world when his daughter was born with Down syndrome.  “This gave me a new perspective on work and relationships – she teaches me, my wife, and my kids regularly.”  As with his approach with work, he makes it a point to surround himself with positive people, seeking out others who will set the bar high for his daughter’s potential.  “If we place limits on her, I will lose, society will lose.”  In the interest of making the world a better place for her, he formed a relationship with the president of Metropolitan ARC, where he was once a board member and now is on the advisory committee.  He is also involved with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, a research and advocacy group committed to making Colorado an ideal place to live for those with Down syndrome.  “Relationships mean so much to me.  I wanted to make it easier for her to have the same network of people that we’re all deserving of.”

This focus on relationships is evident in all aspects of his work and life.  Anton works with many young lawyers and “seeing them gaining confidence and enjoying work is infectious.”  Anton takes time to mentor the young lawyers in his office as a part of building the firm’s culture, but also because others always took the time to mentor him now matter how busy they were.  Early in his career after a hearing, he asked the presiding judge whether he had any advice for a young lawyer.  The judge responded that he’d never been asked that before, but proceeded to invite him back to his chambers for an hour and a half.  The judge advised him to “stay positive and stay focused on the opportunities that exist. . . . Don’t ever compromise your character or your ethics.  There will be many opportunities to do something you know is not right, but the moment you do, you have to start looking backwards.  If you never compromise that, your focus will be forward.”  Anton tries to implement this advice when mentoring others and has also taken it to heart.  “I want to focus on opportunities that lie ahead, not regrets.”

Congratulations to Emanuel Anton for inspiring his fellow young lawyers with his positive attitude, professional accomplishments, and commitment to service.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2011 Gary McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award.  If you know a young lawyer who is inspiring to others, has outstanding professional achievements, and who is committed to public service, please nominate him or her.  Nomination forms are available on the CBA Young Lawyers Division website.