August 24, 2019

J. Ryann Peyton Named Colorado Bar Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year

RyannPeytonIn recognition of her exceptional contributions to the legal profession and the community, J. Ryann Peyton has been named the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year.

Peyton, 32, is currently Special Counsel to The Harris Law Firm. She received her J.D. degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and an LLM in Taxation from the University of Denver. Peyton is the current chair of the board of The GLBT Community Center of Colorado, and a founding member and current President of the Colorado GLBT Bar Association Foundation. She is also a Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors member.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my colleagues and peers to receive this award. As a diverse attorney, I approach my practice and community engagement with a passion for recognizing and meeting the needs of underserved populations,” Peyton says. “It is a privilege to work with and lead extraordinary organizations and individuals who are working each day to advance opportunities for these often under represented communities.”

The Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award is given annually to a young lawyer with an outstanding record of professional success, community service achievements, and a strong commitment to civic participation and inspiring others. McPherson was honored with the award in 1993; he went on to serve three terms in the state legislature. The award was renamed in his honor following his death in 2000.

“It is my privilege and honor to work alongside Ryann Peyton each day in our family law practice. She exemplifies the best of the noble profession of lawyering,” Rich Harris, President of The Harris Law Firm, says. “Ryann is that rare individual who balances her law practice with her important charitable work. She is truly making a difference each day for her clients and for the community.”

Peyton will be honored at the Colorado Bar Foundation’s Annual Bar Fellows Dinner on Friday, Jan. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Denver.

2014 Colorado Assembly of Lawyers and New Attorneys Sworn in at Fall Admissions Ceremony

groupoathMany of the 632 new attorneys who passed the Colorado bar exam in July of this year were admitted to practice law in Colorado on Monday, November 3, 2014, at the Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver. Preceding the admittance ceremony was the 2014 Colorado Assembly of Lawyers. The annual assembly culminates October’s Legal Professionalism Month, during which members of the Colorado legal profession rededicate themselves to the highest standard of professionalism and integrity. This year’s assembly featured a panel discussion about professionalism in the 21st century. Following the assembly, the new attorneys took the Oath of Admission, and were welcomed to practice by Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marcia Krieger, and CBA President Charley Garcia. The keynote address was given by former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender.

The University of Colorado, University of Denver, and the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division all held receptions immediately following the fall admission ceremony. CU’s reception for their alumni was held at Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House and DU’s reception for their alumni was held at Rock Bottom Brewery. For the first time, CBA YLD held a reception for those just sworn into practice from out of state schools. The CBA YLD reception was held at Pizza Republica where more than 50 new attorneys and their family enjoyed drinks and appetizers.  

What to Do Now That You’ve Passed the Bar Exam

dba logoEditor’s note: There are several ways to become a licensed attorney in Colorado. This article is targeted to those Class C applicants who passed the Colorado bar examination.  If you are waived on a motion or have taken the Uniform Bar Exam and been cleared, click here for more information on your next steps.

Congratulations! You’ve passed the bar! Here are some next steps you should take while you wait to be admitted to practice law.

Complete your admission requirements and become familiar with helpful resources available to you

Even though you’ve passed the bar, you’re not quite a lawyer yet.  You still have a few more steps before you can become a full-fledged ESQ.

Visit the Employment Ads

You’re (almost) a lawyer! Time to find a job and start your legal career. New jobs from around the state are posted daily to the Colorado Bar Association’s employment webpage and via CBA’s twitter account. You can search for jobs and set up alerts so that new positions go straight to your inbox.

If you’re hoping to hang your own shingle, be sure to check out the CBA’s Law Practice Management Department’s resources and sign up for the Solo Small Firm Section.

Start Networking

Denver’s legal community is large, but there are many ways to network.  Check out the Denver Young Lawyers Division to join a smaller community of attorneys new to the practice of law, or attend DBA events to meet attorneys from different practice areas. DBA also offers 16 committees and myriad volunteer opportunities, which makes connecting with people in your practice area easy. Don’t forget to connect with DBA members and other new attorneys on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

Write for The Docket and the DBA Young Lawyers blog

Be an active voice in the legal community! We know you have something to say, and we invite you to say it in The Docket and the Young Lawyers blog. Send an email to with your ideas. Writing for The Docket or the blog is a great way to get your name out there and to show knowledge on your résumé and  LinkedIn.


Now is the time to begin celebrating. Spend some time with your dog! Call your mom! Toast with some friends! Cheers to you—passing the bar exam is a huge accomplishment, and you did it!

Candidates who took the July 2014 bar exam will learn whether they passed the exam in early October via the Colorado Supreme Court’s website.


By Heather Clark, the communications and marketing director for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, and managing editor of The Docket. She can be reached at

Margrit Lent Parker Named DBA Young Lawyer of the Year


This is Part 3 of a series of posts about the DBA Award winners (for Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here). The article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Docket.

Margrit Lent Parker isn’t sure why she’s been crowned Young Lawyer of the Year. In fact, her first reaction was confusion. And that’s exactly why she’s the best choice—she continuously gives her time to the bar association while working tirelessly at her firm, expecting nothing in return.

Now, Parker is gaining recognition for all of those times in which she says “I just saw something that needed to be done and did it.”

Take the Colorado wildfires and floods, for example. Parker volunteered to be the District Representative for the ABA Young Lawyers Division, and decided that their old disaster plans needed reworking. So, she put together a committee to draft a new one. Just a few months later, the Colorado wildfires began. Parker helped to set up a legal helpline and find volunteers. Then, the Colorado flooding occurred, and they had the basis to put more of a plan in place. Along with the helpline and call for volunteers, they created a website. Their efforts served more than 600 flood survivors.

Parker is very involved with the DBA and CBA, and also has thrown much of her time into the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP). “Working on that was so rewarding,” she says.

A recent transfer to the new Childs McCune firm, Parker is a down-to-earth attorney who loves to ride horses in her (rare) free time. In college, she started out on the veterinarian track and graduated with a double degree in Equine Science and Zoology. She loved the year she spent after college working in Kentucky on a Thoroughbred farm and at an equine hospital, but decided that law was her calling. She now mixes her passion and profession by working with the veterinary and equine industries.

One thing is certain when it comes to Parker’s future in the legal profession: She’ll continue to do what needs to be done—then more.

Creative Solutions in the Legal Profession

“Creativity is the soul of the scholar.” -Nnamde Azikiwe, First President of Nigeria

The practice of law is filled with complex problems, and clients frequently ask their attorneys to present creative solutions. Likewise, new attorneys are often tasked with finding creative solutions by senior attorneys. Creativity can be liberating, but it can also be risky—how far is too far to stray from the tried and true path?

Creative filings can lead to sanctions designed to prevent frivolous proceedings. Frivolous proceedings can lead to disciplinary proceedings for violations of Colo. RPC 3.1, which states that a lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding unless there is a basis in law or fact for doing so that is not frivolous. So how can a lawyer develop his or her creativity without violating any rules?

CLE is hosting a panel discussion on June 4, 2014, between Byeongsook Seo, a litigation attorney; Jonathan H. Steeler, a transactional attorney; and Hon. Jim S. Miller, a judge. These three panelists have very different backgrounds, but all three exercise creativity in their practices. They will present several scenarios in order to develop creative case strategies from their unique perspectives.

Creativity can open doors for new attorneys and experienced attorneys alike. Join us on June 4 for this interesting panel discussion about the benefits of creativity and the bounds of duty. Click the links below or call (303) 860-0608 to register.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” -Steve Jobs

CLE Program: Creative Solutions in the Legal Practice

This CLE presentation will take place on June 4, 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

IAALS: Let’s Stop Choosing Law School Like It’s 1999


This post originally appeared on IAALS Online, the blog for IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, on April 29, 2014.

By Alli Gerkman

I was preparing for a presentation to prospective law students last month when I realized it has been 15 years since I was standing in their shoes, trying to make the right decision about law school. I wanted to tell them about resources they should be looking for—beyond law school rankings—but as I tapped into all the resources I know of, one thing became very clear: we’re still asking prospective law students to make one of the most important decisions of their lives almost the same exact way we were doing it in 1999. And probably 1989, for that matter.

Which is pretty funny (and tragic), if you think about everything else that has happened in the last 15 years. “Google” became a verb. Our smart phones let us talk to anyone at any time—by video. Cars drive themselves. And, more relevant to the concept of choosing law school, all of our decisions have been made easier through individualized recommendations. When I go to the New York Times, it recommends articles based on my usage. My Amazon home screen recommends books based on past purchases. And Spotify introduces me to new music based on what I play. All of these used to be dominated by generic recommendations—newspapers were driven by “front page” articles, booksellers touted bestseller lists, and Billboard charted the top hits in the country. These generic recommendations persist (and provide some value), but they have been richly supplemented by individualized recommendations that drive our choices.

In the world of choosing law schools, we have the generic rankings and recommendations—including US News & World Report, and a number of others that have popped up over the years—and these provide a certain value, but they hardly give the whole picture and they certainly don’t provide prospective students with individualized information about a decision that, in the end, is very personal.

We’re trying to help with that. Last year, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers launched Law Jobs: By the Numbers, an employment calculator that allows you to review school employment numbers based on the criteria you care about most. With the American Bar Association’s release of the 2013 employment numbers, we made the tool easier for prospective students to use by adding a Q&A tool that walks you through each factor, explains what it is, and lets you decide whether you want to include it in your final calculations. At the end of the Q&A, you get a personalized list of schools based on your personal selections (here’s one example). Lots of groups will tell you which law schools are best, but only Law Jobs: By the Numbers lets you decide for yourself.

This is just the first step, but we think it’s a step in the right direction. Perhaps US News & World Report rankings won’t go away anytime soon. And perhaps that’s okay, so long as, like other industries, we find ways to supplement the generalized rankings with individualized information that allows prospective students to make choices about where to go to law school that are, in the end, right for them.

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.

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

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

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

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

Practice Area Preview: Tax Law—Tuesday, Feb. 25

Please consider joining the CBA Tax Law Section and the DBA YLD for Practice Area Preview on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Rock Bottom Brewery. Everyone is encouraged to attend! The free event includes an informal discussion, complimentary drinks, appetizers and networking. Trevor A. Crow from Dufford & Brown P.C., Tyler C. Murray, President of The Law Offices of Murray & Wright, P.C., Lani A. Payne from KPMG, and Olena Ruth from the Merriam Law Firm will provide insight to attendees on what it is like to work as a young lawyer in the field of tax law. The  networking starts at 5:30 p.m. RSVP online or to or call 303-860-1115, ext. 727.

Benjamin E. Currier Named Colorado Bar Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year

BenCurrierRecognizing his leadership and service in the legal community and the community at large, Benjamin E. Currier has been named the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year.

Currier, 35, has been a leader in both the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations. His focus within the organizations has been on access to justice and the ongoing endeavor to meet the needs of those who cannot afford traditional legal services. In 2011, Currier helped establish the Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans program, a statewide pro bono legal services initiative that assists Colorado Veterans, some active duty service members, and their families. The Clinics provide free legal advice by allowing veterans to meet with attorneys who explain legal processes and forms, and distribute resources covering veteran benefits, taxes, housing and family law.

“In my practice and community involvement, I try to keep in mind the need for honesty, integrity, hard-work, and the responsibility to give back to the community on a consistent basis,” Currier said. “As an attorney, I continue to make efforts to be a good steward of and role model for our profession. I am  honored to be recognized by my peers.”

Currier is a shareholder and partner with Miller & Steiert, P.C. in Littleton. He litigates criminal, family law, and general civil disputes.

He is President-elect of the Arapahoe County Bar Association, a graduate and executive committee member of the Colorado Bar Association Leadership Training program, an executive council member and past chair of the CBA Young Lawyers Division, and an Associate Judge for the City of Littleton.  In 2007, the ACBA awarded him with its Young Lawyer of the Year award.

The Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Lawyer of the Year award is given annually to a young lawyer with an outstanding record of professional success, community service achievements, a strong commitment to civic participation and inspiring others. McPherson was honored with the award in 1993; he went on to serve three terms in the state legislature. The award was renamed in his honor following his death in 2000.

“Ben is a humble leader who works hard to promote fairness and justice and to improve the legal profession. He is beyond dedicated to his clients, the bar association, and the community,” said Emma Garrison, chair of the CBA Young Lawyers Division.

Currier will be honored at the CBA YLD holiday party on Dec. 11 and at the Colorado Bar Foundation Annual Bar Fellows Dinner on Jan. 10 at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center.

Floodgates: Riding the Wave of New Immigration Practitioners

KatharineSpeerBy Katharine Speer

Comprehensive immigration reform looks more promising now than at any time in the last 15 years. Approximately 11 million unauthorized immigrants—your neighbors, co-workers, and classmates—could benefit from the proposed changes. More immediately, the Supreme Court just eliminated DOMA’s barrier to same-sex spousal visa petitions, and about a third of the U.S. population now lives in a marriage-equality state.

What does this mean for young lawyers? A lot of prospective clients in a frequently overlooked area of the law and the chance to put your law degree to work making dreams come true!

Corny, perhaps, but true.

At the same time, immigration law is notoriously complex; equal parts rewarding and frustrating.

Remember your administrative law class? Your favorite subject? Yeah, me neither.

Where does a young lawyer begin when faced with such a challenge? First, why not talk to some immigration lawyers to see if the practice area interests you? We don’t bite, and you can find a bunch of us at If this piques your legal interest, consider taking a pro bono case through the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network. You will be matched with a client in desperate need of your services and an experienced mentor.

Okay, so you’ve finished your pro bono case, and now you’re hooked. How do you become a competent immigration lawyer? One way is to land a job as an associate at an immigration firm, but these scarce positions can be highly competitive and may require years of experience. Another way is to start your own firm or an immigration practice within an existing firm. If you choose one of these options, the following could be your life raft.

  1. Reach out ~ Join the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Immigration Section of the Colorado Bar Association. Meet all the immigration lawyers you can. They will be your best resource.
  2. Don’t reinvent the wheel ~ Ask about the best treatises and research tools for your immigration niche. Check out free resources from the National Immigration Project, American Immigration Counsel, AILA (which you joined, right?), and other non-profits.
  3. Address language and cultural differences ~ No one can be proficient in every language and culture. Learn to work with translators and interpreters. Understand that your clients may see the judicial system differently and take time to talk through their fears, expectations, rights, and responsibilities.
  4. Expect the unexpected ~ Each immigration case is unique. The stakes for your client may range from career advancement, to family unity, to protection from torture. Take time to assess (and re-asses) every case to be sure you are safeguarding your client’s immediate and long-term interests.

Don’t stop here. Your curiosity, sense of adventure, and willingness to admit what you don’t know will serve you well as an immigration practitioner. When the wave of new immigration lawyers hits, your preparation will help you ride the tide to an intellectually and personally rewarding career.

Katharine Speer is a solo immigration practitioner in Denver. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Colorado Chapter of AILA, chairs the Spanish Speaking Lawyers Committee of the Colorado Bar Association, and participates in Denver Legal NightGreeley Legal Night, and Ya Es Hora De Ciudadanía. She hopes to see you there! In the meantime, she can be reached on her homepage, by email, on Twitter, orLinkedIn. She also writes for the DBA Young Lawyers Division blog, where this post originally appeared.

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.

Charity Fundraiser to Benefit Denver Urban Scholars to be Held at Space Gallery

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 11.34.17 AMThe CBA Young Lawyers Division will host its 2013 Annual Charity Fundraiser and silent auction at Space Gallery on Friday, May 31, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. This year’s benefiting charity is Denver Urban Scholars, a nonprofit that provides financial, academic, and emotional support to students experiencing risk factors that reduce their odds of graduating high school. 

Denver Urban Scholars is a Denver nonprofit committed to helping metro-area high school students graduate high school, enter higher education, and develop a life-plan for success. They serve students with great potential who are at high risk for dropping out. Each youth in Denver who drops out incurs an estimated $524,000 in lost wages and public services over his or her lifetime. Youth who drop out of school have higher arrest rates, less chance for employment, lower incomes as adults, and have poorer health outcomes.

Denver Urban Scholars has helped over 400 disadvantaged students graduate from high school. Over the past four years, an average 84.2 percent of students who entered the program as freshmen graduated while in the program; 92 percent of our graduates have gone on to college.

Join the CBA Young Lawyers Division on Friday, May 31, from 5:30 to 9 pm at Space Gallery to help support the Denver Urban Scholars and the important work that they do. For more information about the event or to register, click here. For information about the CBA Young Lawyers Division, click here.

Wee Give Children’s Charity Drive Being Hosted by CBA and DBA Young Lawyers Divisions

Thursday, February 21, 2013, marked the kick-off of the 3rd annual Wee Give donation drive to benefit WeeCycle, a local organization that collects gently used baby gear and donates it to needy recipients throughout the city. The Wee Give drive will run through March 31.

WeeCycle is in need of high-demand baby items, such as cribs manufactured after 2011, car seats manufactured after 2008, strollers, pack-and-plays, swings, high chairs, breast pumps, bouncy seats, and unopened formula and diapers. They also accept monetary donations or gift cards to retailers of baby gear, such as Target or Walmart. They do not accept clothes.

Donations may be dropped off at the CBA offices in the Wee Give barrel, or checks can be made out to CBA YLD with “Wee Give” in the memo line. If your firm would like to host a Wee Give barrel, contact Denise Lynch or Carlos Migoya.