2002-2003 Annual Report
The Denver Bar Association made another peaceful transition from one president to another. I took the giant DBA gavel (inscribed with the names of 112 presidents!) from Bill Walters at the 2002 Annual Party and tried to be a good steward for the year I was president. I had the help of a great board and DBA staff. I wish new president Joe Dischinger the very best, and know things will go well because of who he is and the kind of support he will receive.
Being president of an organization like this is always educational—I was told that I would never know how much went on at the DBA until I was president. I am still amazed at the work by our volunteers. The CAN Committee (that used to be Community Concerns and is now the Community Action Network) is a great example. This committee had a proud and active past, but it needed new direction. Two women who shared the Volunteer Lawyer Award at our annual party, Lisa Williams and Rebecca Franciscus, got the committee renamed and then led the volunteers on a charge. Right out of the box, they held a dessert auction to raise money for Work Options for Women. It was elegant and great fun, and will be followed by a second annual auction in November. They took on big and little projects, raised money and awareness and made the rest of us look good in the community. They capped off their season with a "DBA Lawyers Have Heart Run," as part of the American Heart Association run/walk, and 380 lawyers participated.
Some new lawyers may not know about our unique situation in Colorado. We’re the only local and state bar that have combined offices and staff. It allows us to do more, less expensively, more efficiently. Still, the Denver Bar has a distinct community. As I look back at the minutes from this past year, I’m impressed again by the fact that the bar reaches so many lawyers. From the well-attended and joyful Seniors’ Banquet in the spring, to the Coffee Talk breakfast for young lawyers, to another successful Barristers Ball, to great programs put on for Tuesdays at the Bar, to the many new membership benefits we’ve added, to the receptions for minority law students— the bar touches various groups. And then so many of our lawyers touch people in the community: the Young Lawyers MDA lockup that raised $50,000 for Muscular Dystrophy; the Mock Trial Programs that give students some wonderful opportunities; the Volunteer Court Mediation Program that has helped the judiciary.
The only sour note was the budget shortfall for our judicial system. Everyone is hurting during our statewide financial crisis—because the judicial budget is heavy on personnel costs, the people within got hurt. Furloughs were necessary, a hiring freeze was continued. Finally, a filing fee increase was passed, but it isn’t a panacea. Bar members brainstormed about solutions the DBA could offer, but it’s a very difficult problem. We all wish we could personally do something to make things better.
I’ll end by saying I’m glad there is a Denver Bar. Certainly all members don’t take an active role, but it’s available to all, anytime you’d like to become active. It’s rewarding to be around dedicated, caring and honorable attorneys. Sometimes you end up remembering why you choose law as your profession.
Boisterous meetings, yoga poses and a couple of interesting pub visits kept this years’ Docket volunteers busy and looking forward to another successful year.
The Docket’s April issue skipped its annual "April Fools" cover to commemorate The Docket’s 25th anniversary, which was celebrated by Docket aficionados during a reception at the bar offices on May 1. The issue was a wonderful tribute to former Docket committee members, writers and nay sayers.
The Docket committee has some wonderful volunteers, but sometimes they get lonesome. They invite you to join them by writing interesting stories and vignettes, or just to stop by for lunch. Please call Karen Bries at (303) 824-5303 for information.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee has, for the last several years, been meeting jointly with the CBA ADR Forum Section. In February 2001, the two Committees created the Court Annexed Mediation Program (CAMP). CAMP provides low-cost and-no cost mediation services in the Civil Division of Denver’s County and Small Claims Courts.
Under the leadership of Patrick Kenney and Susan Jennings, and with the support of Judges Larry Bohning, Brian Campbell, Herb Galchinsky, the Small Claims Court Magistrates and aided by the guidance of Presiding Judge Ray Satter, CAMP has grown from a grass roots project into a dynamic and efficient tool for lowering tensions in the community and greatly reducing docket pressures. The CAMP staff of 30 trained with experienced mediators to provide a valuable pro bono service to the community and the DBA. Last month, CAMP mediators handled nearly 40 cases, the large majority of which were resolved.
The Awards Committee, chaired by Tom DeMarino, selected the 2003 award winners for the DBA Annual Party, held on June 11 at the Denver Art Museum. The award winners were: Ben Aisenberg, Award of Merit; Rebecca Franciscus and Lisa Williams, Volunteer Lawyers of the Year; Marte Timmers, Young Lawyer of the Year; and Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, Judicial Excellence Award.
Barristers Benefit Ball
Members of the DBA were "Puttin’ on the Ritz" on April 26 at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center. The committee, co-chaired by DBA President Joe Dischinger and Jessica Lee, worked hard to make the DBA’s 15th Annual Barristers Benefit Ball a huge success. More than 750 attorneys and friends of the legal community attended the event. This year the ball raised nearly $100,000 for Metro Volunteer Lawyers. Every year, select attorneys are honored at the ball for their extraordinary efforts and dedication to MVL and pro bono legal services. This year’s honorees were Tony Yuthas, Barbara Chamberlain, Steve McKenna and Jennifer Holt. Holland & Hart was this year’s Law Firm of the Year. Thanks to everyone who helped make this evening possible, especially LexisNexis™, which was the benefactor of the 2003 Ball.
DBA-CLE is the non-profit educational arm of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations. Designed to meet the needs of Colorado lawyers, DBA-CLE presents approximately 75 live programs each year on a wide variety of topics, in various locations throughout Colorado. Many of the programs are co-sponsored by the sections and standing committees of the Denver Bar Association. Programs vary in length from half-day seminars, to multi-day annual symposia and institutes.
CLE also publishes more than 25 handbooks and practice manuals in various areas of the law. These publications are written by practicing attorneys and sitting judges, and are edited and cite-checked by experienced legal editors. DBA-CLE has developed an enhanced electronic and Web presence, including plans for distance education via online CLE programs and a searchable CLE information database. Please visit www.cobar.org/cle for more information.
Community Action Network
The best way to look at the Community Action Network (CAN) is to examine it through numbers. In 2002, CAN gathered:
In all, Denver attorneys and firms raised more than $35,000 and thousands of donations for the community through the Community Action Network, chaired by Lisa Williams and Rebecca Franciscus. This Committee networks with various government offices, non profit agencies and other bar associations to develop projects, programs, and materials to address the serious issues facing the community. CAN strives to pioneer programs and opportunities in an effort to encourage DBA members to fulfill their civic obligations through community involvement.
Educational Luncheon Coordinating
The Educational Luncheon Coordinating Committee, chaired by Craig Eley, had another successful year with its "Tuesdays at the Bar" programs. These weekly workshops are designed for members, and cover hot legal topics. The noon workshops are a great way to get CLE credits, lunch and an informative program. In addition, they allow members to see their bar association as a place to network and learn. Some of the programs offered were: "Avoiding Attorney Grievances," "HIPAA," "Effective Writing for Attorneys," and "Collecting on Judgments." The DBA will continue to host "Tuesdays at the Bar" in the upcoming year.
The Bench-Bar Committee seeks to create enhanced ways for members of the bar to communicate with members of the bench. One way is through planning the Bench-Bar Retreat, which will be held November 1 at the Inverness Hotel. The topic of this year’s program is "Liberty & Justice for All?" Judges and lawyers attend this informal gathering to share ideas and network. Mary Beth Sobel heads the subcommittee in charge of the program.
Legal Fee Arbitration
The DBA Legal Fee Arbitration Committee has continued to mediate and arbitrate fee disputes between clients and their attorneys. In using LFA, each party must first agree to arbitration to start the expedited process. The committee then assigns each side an experienced mediator and an arbitration panel. Either party can decline the mediation step—though both sides often want to work toward resolution.
The introduction of mediation into the process has been well received. The majority of cases are settled through a session with the mediator. If the case cannot be settled, the panel, with committee review, will resolve the dispute with a quick and semi-painless hearing.
The committee is comprised of both attorneys and lay members, with a mix of long-term and new members. The process is considered a gentle, flexible, quick, informal and effective vehicle for the resolve of disputes between two people who have been in a trusting fiduciary relationship. LFA provides resolution rather than litigation. For more information, contact Charles Welton at (303) 333-8447 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This committee, co-chaired by Marte and Jeff Timmers, made significant additions to the pro se clinics offered by the DBA. In the summer of 2002, Small Claims Clinics and Collections Clinics were started in the Denver County Court, Civil Division, with support from the Civil Division clerks and support staff. Following extensive coordination with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Colorado, the DBA (in partnership with the Bankruptcy Subsection of the CBA Business Law Section) began pro se bankruptcy clinics at the U.S. Customs House. The Denver divorce clinics were re-vamped and re-started in June 2003, at the request of the Denver District Court Self-Help Center and the Family Court Facilitator. A new divorce clinic was initiated at El Centro Bienestar de San Josè in January. This clinic is presented entirely in Spanish. The committee also assisted the Mayor’s Office for Workforce Development by providing a volunteer to instruct clinics regarding parenting time and child support.
Lawline 9 at KUSA-TV Channel 9 continues to be the most popular program, with 150 calls taken each Wednesday night and the 150 Denver attorneys who support the program throughout the year. This year, the Legal Services Committee organized the annual Law On the Mall program. The committee approached four other organizations to take one day and provide volunteers. As a result, the Colorado Hispanic Bar, DBA Board of Trustees, Colorado Women’s Bar Association, DBA YLD and DBA Community Action Network each provided volunteers for "Law on the Mall." In addition, 33 attorneys volunteered for the DBA booth at the 2003 Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods annual People’s Fair, June 7-8.
Membership and Marketing
Membership in the Denver Bar Association continued to increase over the last year, with the addition of several hundred new members. Membership feedback has allowed the marketing department to focus on a variety of new programs, which include: providing more opportunities for members to network (social and business), researching and educating members on timesaving tools, and adding law practice management programs.
The DBA member "Night at the Avs" hockey game was unfortunately scheduled during the week of the "Great Snowstorm of 2003." The game was played the night after the original date, but most people were still buried at home under three feet of snow. The response to the game was tremendous and the committee will plan more events, including a night at the Denver Art Museum and another Avalanche game.
In the fall, the DBA Membership Department supported the DBA YLD Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction by promoting the event and providing door prizes. The event raised over $8,000 for the Legal Aid Foundation.
Membership also worked with the Henry Hall Memorial Golf Committee to attain sponsorships in an effort to make the annual event more affordable for members.
The DBA YLD Professional Development Committee (or you may know it by its nickname "Coffee Talk") had continued success in its second year. The monthly program focuses on topics of particular interest to new attorneys. Topics this year included "How to Deal with the Rude or Unethical Attorney" and "Alternative Careers to the Private Law Firm."
Colorado Legal Directory
Every member of the Denver Bar Association receives a free Colorado Legal Directory as part of his or her membership dues (the only local bar association that provides this). The DBA works with publisher McGraw Hill to produce the directory. The publication is a valuable source of revenue for the DBA; the Membership Services Committee welcomes any comments or suggestions for the directory.
DBA Membership Services helps to organize the spring and fall Admissions Ceremonies for new attorneys, in conjunction with the Colorado Bar Association. New attorneys were welcomed at the ceremonies by leaders in the legal community and sworn-in by Chief Justice Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court. In the fall of 2002, 540 attorneys passed the Colorado State Bar exam and 234 were admitted to practice in the spring of 2003.
One of the goals of the Membership Department is to partner with law schools and students to provide mentoring and networking opportunities. The DBA co-sponsors the University of Denver "Fall New Student Orientation," a time for DBA staff to meet with new students, answer questions and provide direction.
The DBA Membership Department offers discounts for members on everything from office supplies to business attire. DBA members also receive discounts to several Denver-area health clubs!
The DBA Marketing Department is also responsible for selling advertising space in The Docket. Despite cutbacks from some advertisers due to the economy, advertising revenue remained steady and the Department was able to find additional advertisers for the publication.
Metropolitan Conciliation Panel
In late 1995, the Denver Bar Association Conciliation Panel was created in an effort to facilitate complaints about professionalism disputes between lawyers. Although the Denver Bar Association Conciliation Panel was originally established for DBA members, the panel has addressed professionalism disputes involving lawyers from Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas and Denver Counties. In December 2002, the Bar Associations of Denver, Adams County, Broomfield County, and the 1st Judicial District (Jefferson and Gilpin Counties) established the Metropolitan Conciliation Panel (MCP).
The MCP consists of a diverse group of 25 well-respected lawyers from local bar associations and is administered by a five-member coordinating council. The MCP intervenes in conflicts between attorneys over issues of professionalism and civility, as defined in the "Denver Bar Association Principles of Professionalism" and the "Colorado Bar Association Standards of Professionalism." All work of the MCP is confidential and voluntary. "Interventions" often consist of a panel member simply acting as a sounding board for an attorney involved in a professionalism dispute with another attorney. An intervention can also involve the providing of conciliation services between the disputing attorneys. All matters where the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct apply or control and all requests for intervention by consumers are excluded from the jurisdiction of the MCP. Requests for intervention and referrals are accepted from attorneys, judges, magistrates and the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Regulation Counsel. For more information, contact MCP Chair John Baker at (303) 329-3855.
Metro Volunteer Lawyers
Metro Volunteer Lawyers has provided 36 years of pro bono service. MVL’s staff includes Heather Richmond, administrative assistant; Patricia Trujillo, legal services coordinator; Pamela Faris, legal services coordinator; and Sally Maresh, attorney/director.
This year, approximately:
MVL provides civil legal assistance to clients throughout the Denver metropolitan area. Almost half of its funding comes from the DBA-sponsored Barristers Benefit Ball, with the remainder coming from COLTAF, individual contributions, and per capita contributions from its sponsoring bar associations: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Douglas/Elbert Counties, and First Judicial District.
Democracy Education Committee
This committee (formerly titled the Public Legal Education Committee) was co-chaired by Jim Carr and Wes Howard.
In 2003, Denver Public Schools doubled the number of high schools participating in mock trials—to two. Two teams from J.F. Kennedy High School and one team from the Career Education Center each competed in the Arapahoe/Denver Regional Mock Trial Competition in February, hosted by the Arapahoe County Bar Association and held at the Arapahoe County Justice Center. The committee has set a priority for 2003-2004 for motivating additional DPS high schools to participate in the mock trials competition. Several committee members coordinated the Denver regional and state tournaments and many judges and attorneys judged trial rounds at the regional and state tournaments.
The Democracy Education Committee continues to help the CBA Law Education Committee with the "Survivor’s Guide (So You’re 18 Now—A Survival Guide for Young Adults)" and "The Law in Colorado," which is an addendum to "Street Law—A Course in Practical Law."
DBA staff and volunteers visited more than 12 Denver Public high schools last year in an effort to encourage participation in mock trials and to promote the integration of law-related education programs into school curriculum. The Colorado addendum is also available on the CBA website at www.cobar.org/lawinco.htm. DBA members also volunteer to present law as a career at elementary, middle and high school career days.
Summer Intern Commitee
The Summer Intern Committee recruits law firms to participate in its intern program each summer. Last year, 20 students were placed in summer positions. Employers included the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, local firms and the DBA. Students receive nearly 50 hours of training prior to beginning their summer job, in order to transition them from being a student to being a professional employee.
Participants are closely supervised and mentored over their eight-week position, and many are retained in part-time positions after school begins (upward of 40 percent are retained in some years). As a result of their summer experiences, many interns that hadn’t previously considered college enrolled in some sort of university setting.
Constantly improved and updated, members can surf the DBA Web site or get answers to specific questions. The Legal Resource Directory as well as articles and photos from The Docket are available on the site. It’s easy to keep bar association events in order by putting the joint CBA/DBA calendar online with links to meeting notices. Under the "Public Interest" section, information can be found about DBA-sponsored clinics, the small claims handbook, the child support handbook and other educational materials. Find out more about Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) and the Family Law Court Program. Also on the site are the DBA policies and procedures, DBA governance and committee information.
Young Lawyers Division
The year started off in fine fashion for the DBA YLD with the third annual Law Suit Day. During this event, Denver lawyers contributed gently used professional clothing, which was donated to charities that provide clothing for job interviews.
In November, a formal "Court Orientation" provided new members with information on the ins and outs of the Denver courts. Presentations were also made by local judges.
YLD again demonstrated its commitment to the community and the future through its "Christmas in January" event. This is a party for foster children 12 and under that includes presents, pizza, candy, games and a chance to get a picture with Santa Claus. The children are given presents donated by the community and include at least one book, one sports item and one video. This year the event gained even more recognition as it was attended by two of the local news stations and over 300 children.
In February, the YLD helped sponsor the annual MDA "Lock-Up." This year was again a tremendous event, raising almost $50,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
YLD also provided the public with access to legal resources and information during Law on the Mall, an annual event on the 16th Street Mall during Law Day/Law Week. During Law Week, the committee gave a presentation on legal careers for the Law Explorers program. A panel of attorneys from different aspects of the legal profession discussed legal careers with area high school students.
The YLD also continued its networking and member outreach happy hour held monthly. The "Barristers After Hours" has been successful in bringing together young lawyers and has also served as collection points for charity donations and a way to recruit volunteers for YLD and DBA events.
You may know us best as The Docket, the newsletter that informs, amuses and sometimes surprises. Surely, you disagree with it sometimes. In case we haven’t said it enough, we invite you to e-mail or write us with your opinions. Yell and scream or compliment us—it’s your newsletter and we’d love to hear from you. Also, please contribute news of your promotion, new firm, new hires, civic activities, weddings, proud moments—we really are a community.
That’s one of three missions.
The second is to handle media calls (they ask us questions, we send them to you for answers . . . ). We get local, state, national, sometimes even international calls and since we (the Communications Department) aren’t attorneys, we need your help. We are developing a list of attorneys willing to field calls, write letters to the editor (and more) when a critical or just-plain-wrong article appears in the paper. Call if we can put you on the list—or email email@example.com with your name, e-mail and what you’d be willing to talk about. We offer "Working with the Media" CLE workshops every month and would love for you to come have fun with us—see your Docket for details.
Third, we can be your Publicity Store. When your committee is having an event, we want to help. We publicize the Barristers Ball, the DBA Annual Party, the Bench-Bar Retreat, mock trials, community forums, etc. We send out announcements of our new officers. We also send The Docket to reporters and editors at both Denver dailies. If we can help you with getting the word out, let us know.
We do work with lots of bar groups—the Seniors Committee, the CAN Committee (great Lawyers Have Heart race!), the awards committee, the Board of Trustees, Tuesdays at the Bar (if you haven’t tried it, it’s in its fifth year of offering a CLE, lunch and a speaker every Tuesday at noon), the Young Lawyers (a very active bunch) and more.
We welcome your suggestions for getting out the good word about attorneys.
The Denver Bar Association finished the 2002-2003 fiscal year with income exceeding expenses. The staff needs to be commended for keeping expenses down, while expanding programs and services.
The DBA is still in an excellent financial position, with adequate reserves to allow it to plan for future member needs. The Budget and Planning Committee will continue to work with the Board of Trustees to plan and budget for the future. A complete audit will be available at the bar offices after October 1. The following page outlines the financial figures in greater detail.