Denver Bar Association
July 2010
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Insights Into Incoming President Stacy Carpenter: A Profile by Dad

by Willis Carpenter

My subject is Stacy Carpenter, President of the Denver Bar Association. My purpose is to provide a profile that one could not find on Martindale-Hubbell or the website of her firm, Hensley Kim & Holzer.

Willis Carpenter and baby Stacy in 1972.

Who is this person who assumed the DBA leadership on July 1, 2010? As her father, and a 50-plus-year member of DBA, I may be in a unique position to discuss that question.

Normally, one would use adjectives to describe a person. In Stacy’s case, verbs are more appropriate. She moves. She questions. She participates. She advocates. She considers and weighs the evidence. She judges and reveals her opinions and conclusions, but only after due consideration.

You might ask, "But, what experience does she bring to this job?" The short answer is 14 years of intense involvement in Bar activities. From the day she was admitted, fresh out of Northwestern Law School, she took on a full load. I have often wondered how she manages it.

She loves being a lawyer. She has wanted to be a lawyer since college (University of Rochester, cum laude). With father and grandfather both lawyers, she did not blindly opt for a legal career. Since the first day of law school, she’s viewed lawyering as her calling.

How do I know that? Well, first of all, because she has told me so; but, I think, it is obvious to her colleagues in the legal profession, to her supportive husband, Justin Prochnow, a seasoned lawyer and caring father, to her adversaries and to her confederates at the Bar. She is right where she should be.

In response to my inquiry for this profile, Justin told me:

"Stacy is a joiner. She is extremely generous with her time and resources, and she likes to be actively involved in many things at once. When we first met, she was working on numerous bar projects at both the local and state level. She was helping put on a chefs’ event for The Young Fund of Children’s Hospital, and participating in several other volunteer organizations around town. Her generous nature is contagious and spurred me to be more philanthropic with my time. It is commendable that one of her best qualities is not just her ability to involve herself in multiple tasks, but to put the same energy and commitment into each activity and not have any suffer because she is working on another at the same time."

Willis Carpenter, left, and Stacy repeat the
Oath of Admission during her swearing-in
ceremony in 1996.

When she was quite young, 4 or 5, her mother and I predicted: "This kid’s gonna be a lawyer when she grows up." She was verbal beyond her years and quick to respond with another side to the argument, or an entirely new reasoned objection, for whatever burden she felt was unwarranted – like early bedtime or "finish your salad before you start on dessert." And, with that propensity for testing the logical conclusions and summary orders of her parents, there was this element of good judgment, to such a remarkable degree that, as her parents, we discussed it out of her hearing range and concluded: law career.

Let me give you an example of that logical mind at 4 years of age. When asked by the waitress at the pancake house how she would like her eggs, without hesitation, Stacy responded, "on a plate." It was the perfect example of unflinching good judgment, rendered without delay and strictly on subject.

There were other defining moments as she progressed in age and wisdom. She spent many hours horseback riding with her younger sister, Kendra, on their grandfather’s cattle ranch near Hayden. For a few years, she had her own horse and, to this day, she sits a horse like a champion and exhibits confidence combined with experience. Her grandfather would be proud.

She is the good friend of all stray cats and dogs, never hesitating to rescue them from the hazardous streets of Denver and then off to the Dumb Friends League, where she sometimes selects one or more for herself. Her friends tell me that whenever they spot a dog running around solo, they attempt to distract her if she has not yet seen the canine. Otherwise, all plans are suspended while Stacy coaxes the lost critter into the car for yet another rescue operation. You won’t find that on her website, but the motivation is definitely part of who she is.

In court, as a trial lawyer, she is all business. You had best be well-prepared if you are on the other side, because she will be. Yet, behind that intense advocacy with which she often represents her clients, beats a tender heart, a soul of compassion with a rigorous code of ethics. Longtime cohort, Ian Saffer, expresses it this way:

"Ever since we studied for the Bar together, I have always known that if I were in a jam (or in jail) my one call would be to Stacy. She is the kind of friend who would jump in the car at 2 a.m. to help you out, and any lack of experience in the crisis at hand would be more than compensated by her drive, resourcefulness and concern."

She carries quite a load these days, with 6-month-old son Jackson, step-daughter Jordan, age 11, and practicing as a full-time trial lawyer with her firm. In addition to the normal duties of a DBA officer, she serves on the CBA Board of Governors and participates actively on its Legislative Policy Committee. You can read about her many accolades and awards on the Hensley Kim & Holzer website. They are all part of her profile, but too numerous to list here.

From her close friend, court reporter par excellence, Elaine Javernick, my inquiry elicited this response:

"The DBA could not be in better hands than with Stacy as president. As a professional colleague of Stacy’s for approximately 10 years, I have had the honor of observing first-hand her passion and commitment to the legal profession. Her standards are exceptionally high and her accomplishments are vast. Her strength and drive as a leader are unparalled to any I’ve witnessed and are contagious to those around her. Her energy and determination exceed that of the Energizer bunny, because she truly does keep going and going and going — always ready to give of herself in any way she can, both professionally and personally. Stacy is an inspiring attorney, wife, mother and friend. I look forward to watching her lead and succeed as president of the DBA."

For this profile, I asked Stacy what cause or causes she considered most important in the coming presidential year. I had no doubt she had already considered this question, and I liked her response:

"This year we must look forward and not back. Preparing our members for the coming November elections is a critical role for the DBA. With campaigns seeking to vote out judges we must be sure that our members understand the merit selection system, retention elections and judicial performance evaluations. Our members must be out there talking to their friends and neighbors and explaining the role of the judiciary and the problem with voting on judges based on a political evaluation of any particular case holding."

Stacy Carpenter, left, her niece Nadia Brecl, center, and her husband Justin Prochnow with his daughter Jordan ride horses at the Carpenter Ranch in 2005.

Well said, I thought. The current political attack on our Colorado Supreme Court justices in particular, as well as the general "sweep ‘em all out" jargon one hears from time to time, might not be as vital as other national issues, but it is a statewide issue on which the bar associations can make a difference. Any lawyer who practiced before 1966, when judges were elected, knows that we should not regress to those days. Politically sensitive courts were burdened with the necessity of fundraising for election campaigns, and the courts were beholden to a political party for support.

So, more power to you, Stacy. Let them know where you stand, where the Board of Trustees stands, and where the Bar membership stands. I have no doubt you will do just that.

Now, let me end with a few adjectives that define this fourth of my five daughters and the mother of my seventh grandson. Here they are, not necessarily in the order of their importance or applicability: courageous, energetic, wise beyond her years, determined, forgiving and really good with little kids.

Willis Carpenter, DBA President in 1978–79, and Stacy Carpenter are the first father-and-daughter team to serve as president of the bar in the history of the DBA.

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