Denver Bar Association 2003-2004 Annual Report
I had a terrific year as your president. Thank you all for your support and words of encouragement. I think we can all be proud of our Denver Bar Association.
We have over 7,000 members, of which about 2,100 are members of the Young Lawyers Division. The DBA has an annual budget of slightly more than $1 million. In comparison, the CBA has more than 15,000 members and an annual budget of nearly $2.4 million. The DBA has a staff of 20 (including four people who work exclusively for Metro Volunteer Lawyers). Nearly all of these staff members also work for the CBA, and their salaries and expenses are shared by the DBA and CBA.
DBA staff and volunteers have worked hard this year to make improvements in the DBA website, which can be found at http://www.denbar.org. Among other changes, there is more information about what our 19 committees are doing, and how to get in touch with the right person concerning the work of a committee.
The committees continue to be where the real work of the association gets done. You really have no idea how many things the bar association does for the community and for lawyers until you become president. Space does not allow a description of all the projects completed and ongoing (for that, please go to the website, and see below). Just to highlight a few of the newer projects, DBA committees are working to improve the experience of jurors at the City and County Building, including improving the phone-in system and
In addition to helping with these projects, your DBA
And these are just the new projects and initiatives. Other fine programs we have come to expect, like the annual bench-bar retreat, Tuesdays at the Bar lunches, the Barristers Benefit Ball, and countless other events and projects continue. It has been my honor to represent you this past year, and I wish your new president, Mary Jo Gross, all the best for the coming year.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee continues to run the Court Annexed Mediation Project (CAMP), which provides mediation services to litigants and their attorneys in Denver’s County and Small Claims Civil Courts. The ADR Committee, along with the Ethics Committee, is also developing ethical guidelines for mediators. The ADR Committee hosts quarterly CLE programs for its members. Other projects include working with the CBA Health Law Committee and revising the ADR Employment Manual.
With chair and former president Dave Furgason in charge, the Awards Committee selected a stellar group to celebrate: Brooke Wunnicke, Award of Merit; Megan Bryhildsen, Young Lawyer of the Year; Judge Herb Galchinsky, Judicial Excellence; and Stacy Carpenter, Volunteer Lawyer of the Year. Awards were presented at the Annual Party, Denver Art Museum, on June 9. The party was combined with a Colorado attorney/author sale and signing to raise money for Legal Aid.
Barristers Benefit Ball
The 16th annual Barristers Benefit Ball was held May 1, with more than 830 people paying a "Tribute to Broadway." The committee, co-chaired by Jessica Lee and Mary Jo Gross, worked feverishly to plan the event, which raised over $105,000 for Metro Volunteer Lawyers. This year, four attorneys and one law firm were honored for their extraordinary efforts and dedication to MVL and pro bono legal services. This year’s honorees were Mark Bove, Dee Keller, Jason Cuerdon, Elsa Martinez Tenreiro, and The Harris Law Firm. Thanks to everyone who helped make this great event a reality, especially LexisNexis™, which was the benefactor of the 2004 Ball.
Bench Bar Committee
The Bench Bar Committee has been very busy this past year under the leadership of Judge Jay Breese and Howard Rosenberg. This committee has several subcommittees developing a number of informative brochures about the courts, including information on appealing a case, rights and procedures in traffic court and within the state and municipal Denver County Courts. The Committee has also been actively working with the Denver Jury Commissioner’s office to improve summoned jurors’ experiences. A phone tree of information has been developed, there has been much more information added to the juror web site, and the site is now referenced in the summons. Reduced parking fees for jurors have been arranged, disabled juror parking has been made more satisfactory, a separate building entrance has been authorized for selected jurors, etc. Other ideas are also being pursued.
The 2003 Bench-Bar Retreat was November 1, with 94 judges and attorneys in attendance. The program, titled "Liberty and Justice for All?" focused on assaults on civil rights, the treatment of minorities, national security and rights of the accused. As always, the program provided an opportunity for members of the bench and bar to meet in an informal setting to discuss issues of mutual concern. Plans are underway for the next retreat, to be held April 2, 2005.
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 presented approximately 90 live programs this year on a wide variety of topic areas, in various locations throughout Colorado. Many of the programs are co-sponsored by the standing committees of the DBA. Programs vary in length from half-day seminars to popular multi-day annual seminars.
CLE also publishes more than 35 handbooks and practice manuals in various law practice specialties. These publications are authoritative because they are written by practicing attorneys and sitting judges, and they are edited and cite-checked by experienced legal editors. Our books are practitioner-oriented as well, and include essential forms, helpful checklists, organizational tabs, a subject index, tables of authorities, practice tips and sample language to save you time and make your services more economical.
DBA-CLE has developed an enhanced electronic and Web presence, and is developing plans for an online distance education and searchable CLE information database. Please visit http://www.cobar.org/cle for more information.
We continue to offer "Working with the Media" workshops regularly, and specifically, anytime someone thinks it’s needed. We offer "personal brainstorming" when someone has a public relations problem—we don’t have all the answers, but based on experience, can give you some options. We keep in touch with reporters and editors in Denver, trying to educate in areas that are complex. For instance, several years ago, we took four water lawyers to The Post and had a two-hour session with a roomful of interested reporters and editors. This year, as part of a state-wide effort, we’ll hold another seminar on water at the Denver Press Club. Also, we have joined with the Colorado Press Association and the State Court Administrator’s Office in offering "conversations" between judges, reporters, lawyers and public officials. The one in Denver was Aug. 13. We try to call and e-mail reporters all the time—offering praise for a good job, or suggesting stories, sometimes criticism. Mostly, we want everyone to know we’re reading about the issues. The department tries to respond to what’s going on in the legal community—producing papers on why term limits (or impeachment for rulings) is a bad idea. If there’s something in the media that concerns you, call us in case we haven’t seen it. We also encourage members to write letters to the editor or call reporters directly.
Community Action Network
In fiscal year 2003, the Community Action Network (CAN) organized many community service activities, collecting more than $15,000, which benefited dozens of individuals and non-profit organizations throughout the Denver-metro area. CAN was responsible for the following events:
A new feature this year was the CAN Community Service Awards, awarded to firms, in various size categories, to recognize the achievements of those firms who excelled in their commitment to community service.
Democracy Education Committee
The Democracy Education Committee has been busy this past year under the leadership of co-chairs Jim Carr and Wesley B. Howard. For the first time in a number of years, the DBA and the committee hosted its own Denver regional mock trial tournament in February 2004. Five schools participated in the regional tournament, hosted at the Arapahoe County Justice Center. Kennedy, Career Education Center, Manual’s Arts & Cultural Studies program and The Denver Academy, all located in Denver, participated, as well as one team from the Weld/Larimer region, Fort Collins High School. Kennedy High School and Fort Collins High School advanced to the State Tournament. Many Denver attorneys volunteered to assist with the regional tournament as well as the State Tournament, held in Jefferson County. The Committee is working with the regional coordinator, as well as DBA members to continue the increase of interest in the Denver Mock Trial program.
The Democracy Education Committee is also revitalizing several law-related educational programs that have not been actively promoted in years past. Three subcommittees were formed to reevaluate and reorganize the Court Tour, Speakers’ Bureau and In-Class Mock Trial programs. The Court Tour subcommittee involves a number of court administrators from the Sheriff’s Department, the Mayor’s office, the City Council’s office, the Jury Commissioners’ office, and both court administrators. The Speakers’ Bureau will revive a program in which attorneys can volunteer to speak to classrooms on their topic of specialty. Finally, the In-Class Mock Trial subcommittee is developing a mock trial teaching unit that elementary teachers may use in their classrooms, with the assistance of an attorney as needed. Denver elementary school teachers are working with the attorney members to develop materials for implementation.
The Committee also continues to work with the CBA Public Legal Education Committee (formerly known as the Law Education Committee) to update publications, such as "The Law in Colorado," "So You’re Eighteen Now—A Survivor’s Guide for Young Adults," and an informational brochure on "Becoming a Lawyer."
Exhausted from celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Docket Committee rested comfortably on some laurels. Still, to the credit of chair Marshall Snider, eleven issues were created (some from whole cloth), edited and published. The meeting minutes couldn’t be published in a family newsletter (well, okay, nobody takes minutes), the food was excellent and the talk raucous. We invite all members to participate—in the writing, the suggesting of topics, the taking of pictures, in the bar reviews and even in the meetings.
Educational Lunch Coordinating Committee
The Educational Lunch 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 the Bar Association as a place to network and learn. This year the TAB programs saw over 500 members.
Legal Fee Arbitration
The DBA Legal Fee Arbitration Committee has continued to mediate and arbitrate fee disputes between clients and their attorneys. The committee received hundreds of inquiries on legal fee arbitration, most of which were resolved prior to an arbitration hearing. The committee remains one of the most active of all bar committees with daily stacks of mail and on-going phone calls from both the public and attorneys. The free service allows attorneys to resolve fee disputes while maintaining respect for the fiduciary duty owed to the client.
In using LFA, each party must first agree to arbitration to start the expedited process. The committee then assigns each side an experienced mediators and an arbitration panel. Either party can decline the mediation step—though both sides often want to work toward resolution and agreed closure. Most cases are settled through a session with the mediators. If the case cannot be settled, the panel, with committee review, will resolve the dispute with a quick and informal 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 resolution of disputes between two people who have been in a trusting lawyer and client relationship. LFA provides resolution of disputes without liigation.
The committee thanks dedicated member Don Alperstein for his service above and beyond in defending our process during litigation, which is now on appeal. Thank you, Don, for your continued hard work and affirmation of the important process of arbitration.
For more information or to join the committee contact staff liaison, Kari Brandt, at (303) 824-5340 or email@example.com; or contact the chair, Charles Welton, at (303) 333-8447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Services Committee
This committee, co-chaired by Marte Timmers and Ilene Bloom, has enjoyed significant success with its pro se clinic programs, in partnership with the numerous courts where they are held each month. Over 862 people were served in 2003-2004. The breakdown of clinic attendance is as follows: Doing Your Own Divorce–261; Bankruptcy–193; Small Claims–256, and Collections–152. The committee decided to offer the Collections clinic, previously offered every other month, on a monthly basis. The committee lends volunteer support to a family law clinic offered by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development by recruiting instructors for this monthly clinic, which was attended by 242 people. This year, the committee implemented an evaluation procedure where clinic attendees complete evaluation forms, and volunteer to participate in a follow up evaluation procedure six months later.
The Spanish-speaking divorce clinic offered at El Centro Bienestar did not have a high level of attendance, so it was relocated to the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, where it is marketed among 31 different social services organizations. The committee will monitor the attendance at this clinic to measure the need and interest from the Hispanic community.
Lawline 9, at KUSA-TV Channel 9, continues to be a popular community program with over 7,000 calls taken in the last year. Over 100 attorneys volunteer to staff this event every Wednesday evening. The committee once again organized Law on the Mall this year. The DBA Board of Trustees, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, the Community Action Network and the DBA Young Lawyers Division all staffed a day to provide legal information and resources to the public. Thirty attorneys volunteered to staff the 2004 CHUN Capitol Hill People’s Fair. Finally, over 20 attorneys staffed the 2003 Veteran’s Stand Down event held at the National Guard Amory at 52nd and Franklin.
The committee is busy developing new programs including the provision of pro bono training for young attorneys, legal education programming for immigration issues and the development of an estate planning and/or probate clinic.
Membership and Marketing
Membership in the Denver Bar Association continues to increase and we’re up to almost 7,500 DBA members! The DBA membership department provides opportunities for members to network (social and business) and other membership benefits.
The DBA held two member "Night at the Movies," featuring screenings of the legal-themed movie, "The Laws of Attraction," and the romantic movie, "The Notebook." Each had great turnout, with many DBA members and guests attending. The movies were seen at the Denver Pavilions Theater. In the fall, the DBA Membership Department supported the LAF Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction by promoting the event and providing door prizes. The event raised money for the Legal Aid Foundation. The 2004 Annual Henry Hall Memorial Golf Tournament was a great success and the weather even cooperated this year. DBA members played at the beautiful Inverness Golf Club and received lots of goodies and prizes, in addition to a great day of golf. Membership works with the DBA Golf Committee to raise money through sponsorships to make the event affordable.
The DBA YLD Professional Development Committee (better known as, "Coffee Talk") continues its success in the third year. The monthly program focuses on topics of particular interest to new attorneys. Topics this year included: Managing all that Debt, Rainmaking, Jury Instructions, and Voir Dire.
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 the publisher, McGraw Hill, to produce the directory. The publication is a valuable source of revenue for the DBA, and the Membership Services Committee welcomes any comments or suggestions for the directory.
DBA Membership Services helps organize the spring and fall Admissions Ceremonies for new attorneys, in conjunction with the Colorado Bar Association. New attorneys are welcomed at the ceremonies by leaders in the legal community and are sworn-in by Chief Justice Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court. In the fall of 2003, 534 attorneys passed the Colorado State Bar Exam and in spring of 2004, 241 were admitted to practice in the state of Colorado. One of the goals of the Membership Department is to partner with law schools and students, providing mentoring and networking opportunities.
The DBA co-sponsored the University of Denver "Fall New Student Orientation." DBA staff had a chance to meet with new students, answer questions and provide direction.
The DBA Membership Department offers discounts for our members on everything from office supplies to business attire. Through your membership in the DBA, you can also receive discounts to several Denver-area health clubs, promoting wellness among our members!
The DBA Marketing Department is also responsible for selling the advertising in the Docket and advertising revenue remained steady this year.
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.
In December 2002, the Bar Associations of Adams County, Broomfield County, and the 1st Judicial District (Jefferson and Gilpin Counties) joined with the Denver Bar Association and established the Metropolitan Conciliation Panel (MCP). The MCP now consists of a diverse group of 25 well-respected lawyers from all of the 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 Co-Chairs John Baker at (303) 329-3855 or David Furgason at (303)861-8013.
Metro Volunteer Lawyers
Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) has provided pro bono legal services to residents of the Denver area for almost 40 years. MVL’s staff includes Sally Maresh, Executive Director/Attorney; Patricia Trujillo, Legal Services Coordinator; Pamela Farris, Family Law Coordinator; and Codi Raymond, Program Assistant. This year, over 1,500 clients were provided advice or brief service, and attorneys represented 1,204 indigent clients. Approximately $4,816,000 worth of services were provided on a pro bono basis.
MVL provides civil legal assistance to clients throughout the Denver-metro 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 J. D.
This group of attorneys "privileged to be 65 or over," have four big events. There’s a Christmas meal at the bar office which is just for schmoozing and camaraderie, a golf tournament in mid-summer, for essentially the same reasons. The fall roast this past year honored past DBA President Garth Grissom—his whole family and lots of friends turned out for the event at the DAC. Before he was honored, we all sang happy birthday to Winston Howard on the occasion of his 95th. Then there’s the Seniors Spring Banquet—what most call the best party of the year. This past May, the committee honored 29 attorneys who had been attorneys for 50 years. You could hear echoes of "I haven’t seen you in . . ." They filled a room at the DAC and made some more memories.
Summer Intern Committee
The Summer Intern Committee again supported the Goodwill Industries of Denver, which took over the program in 2003 from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. The committee has assisted with the recruitment of law firms to participate in Goodwill’s Earn ‘n Learn summer employment program (formerly called Youth at Work) that is offered each summer to Denver at-risk youth. This year, five law firms offered youth summer jobs in their offices, simultaneously teaching the students about the legal industry and career opportunities available to them. The Denver Bar Association has been affiliated with this program since its inception; the Denver Board of Trustees recently voted to sunset this committee since the Bar’s involvement has been minimal in the last few years. The DBA will continue to support Goodwill Industries’ Earn ‘n Learn program by making available meeting rooms and promotional support through The Docket and the DBA Listserv.
Not only does the DBA’s website have a snazzy new look but underneath that pretty face is a new dynamic, database-driven website. The dynamic site will help keep content fresh and up-to-date. It will also allow members with the appropriate security rights to modify, add, and even delete web content. The Legal Resource Directory has been updated and new issues of The Docket are added to the site before they arrive in your mailboxes. It’s easy to keep your bar-related events straight with the joint CBA/DBA online calendar. The "Public Interest" section offers educational materials such as brochures and handbooks. Also on the site are the DBA governance and expanded committee information.
Young Lawyers Division
The year started off when DBA YLD sponsored the fourth annual Law Suits Day. 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 made by many local judges.
YLD continued its commitment to the community with their annual "Winter Festival," formerly known as "Christmas in January." This party, for foster children ages 12 and under, includes presents, pizza, candy, and a chance to have their picture taken with the Cat in the Hat. The children received presents, donated by the community, and each included at least one book, one sports item and clothing. The event was again a huge success and served over 300 children.
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/Week.
YLD also continues its legal services push by working with Centro Bienestar San José to provide legal resources once a month at Legal Night. This program helps people in West Denver gain access to legal information. The program is always looking for help with this service, especially from Spanish-speaking attorneys. Look in The Docket for information on how to volunteer.
YLD continued its monthly networking and member outreach happy hour. "Barristers After Hours" has been successful in bringing together young lawyers and also served as a way to bring in volunteers.
The Denver Bar Association finished the 2003-2004 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 charts outline the financial figures in greater detail.