Carlos & the Giant Beard: Why One Lawyer is Throwing Away His Razor for Charity
by Courtney Gibb
His Legal Journey
Carlos Migoya’s story starts in Florida, back before the beard was a tangible possibility. He was born and raised in Miami and West Palm Beach, then attended Florida State University for undergrad.
Migoya grew up treasuring tales of his great grandfather, who was a judge exiled from Cuba for policies made in his courtroom when a different government took over. These honorable ideals from his past influenced his desire to impact the law, leading to his legal profession. Plus, he adds wryly: "I used to bartend – lawyers don’t have to stand as long."
So, Migoya left Florida and ventured out to Colorado for law school, earning his law degree in 2004 from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He started his own practice from his best friend’s basement in Denver – and the rest is history.
The Migoya Law Firm LLC is no longer an office in a basement. It’s a successful solo firm specializing in criminal defense work and tailored around modest means clients. This suits Migoya, who explains: "I get to fight for the constitution every day."
"When I say ‘Ok, I believe you,’ I’m often the only one who does," notes Migoya with pride. "It’s nice to fight for clients like that; to take on the ultimate bully."
Along with being a part of the CBA Modest Means Task Force, Migoya is also the Immediate Past Chair of the CBA YLD. After getting to know many people involved with the CBA and attending numerous events, Migoya found that he wanted to give back. His experience made him appreciate the sense of community cultivated within YLD.
"There’s always been great leadership at the top of the YLD," Migoya says. "It’s a great opportunity to get out there and meet other people, and the CBA gave me a good platform to help out other young lawyers."
Outside work, Migoya is an avid duck hunter who loves the outdoors, his two dogs, beers, cigars — and testing the limits of his facial hair growth.
His Bearded Journey
After watching motivating videos of people taking action to help others, Migoya was spurred to make a difference as well. He started thinking about what he could do to raise money and make an impact — which, of course, led him to his hair.
"I’ve always been able to grow hair like a chia pet," Migoya says. "And I wanted to help our local community, so I instantly connected that with Weecycle."
Weecycle is an organization that provides new and gently used baby gear to low-income families in the Denver metro area. It was founded by Jayme Ritchie and Sunny Heydorn, two attorneys who had previously worked together at a downtown firm and were pregnant at the same time. They wanted to make the most out of their time on bed rest; thus, the successful Weecycle concept was born.
Migoya knows Ritchie and Heydorn, and wanted to contribute to their inspiring organization. He began his bearded journey in February 2013, with the idea that he wouldn’t shave until he raised $10,000 for Weecycle. He figured it would be easy — a quick couple of months away from the razor for a good cause.
"Apparently people don’t feel that sorry for me because it’s still on my face!" Migoya laughs. "I thought it was a reasonable goal; that I could raise it in three or four months and we’d be done. But I’m very stubborn."
Weecycle co-founder Ritchie is proud of Migoya’s efforts to raise money for the organization, but does admit she was surprised when Migoya first proclaimed his goal.
"I thought $10,000 sounded like a ton of money, and it would be a challenge," Ritchie says. "But we are so thrilled he’s doing this. It opens up a lot of potential and spreads the word about Weecycle to people who may not know about it otherwise."
And almost eight months later, Migoya’s beard is still growing for charity. Nearly $6,000 has been donated so far –—60% of his goal. On his Colorado Gives website, he explains that $10,000 translates roughly to "250 Car Seats, 45,500 diapers, or 1,000 conainers of formula." He isn’t shaving until that becomes a reality for low-income families in our community.
Of course, Migoya’s positive persona and philanthropic ways are not side-effect free. He has a lot more grooming to do now — like combing and oiling his abundant facial hair. Plus, throughout his bearded adventure so far, some clients have been convinced he’s a professional duck hunter — not a lawyer.
"Judges give me funny looks," Migoya says. "People can’t believe they seriously let me into court."
If you’re still not convinced that you should help Migoya "Shear the Beard" by contributing to his Weecyle campaign, donate for no other reason than to impact his love life: "Let’s just say that it’s not the easiest style to pull off for a single guy," Migoya says. D
Courtney Gibb is the communications and marketing specialist for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations and editor of The Docket. She can be reached at email@example.com.