Denver Bar Association
June 2003
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Our Fearless Leader Says Goodbye


Dear Joe: The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here. On July 1 you will take over the reins as president of the DBA and, let me tell you, you should hold on for a wild ride. It will start out deceptively slow as many people are on vacation and spending time with their families during the summer. But don’t be fooled. Now is when you must check in with each DBA committee and ensure a chairman or chairwoman is in place and everything is a "go" for 2003-04. You will likely find, as I did, that most of the previous chairs were either eager to continue or had groomed their successor.

I think someone flipped a switch on Labor Day because once September was upon us, the mad dash was on. You should have all your own plans in place by then because everyone else is rarin’ to go (Maybe this is why The Docket featured stress management with yoga last September.) The Board of Trustees resumes its monthly meetings and the committees return to their projects in earnest. Metro Volunteer Lawyers doesn’t sleep during the summer, so expect MVL director Sally Maresh to have cases in hand at board meetings for the Trustees to assume beginning in September.

Our treasurer Lenore Martinez and deputy director Greg Martin will amaze you, as they did (and do) me. Not only did they provide the Board with reliable monthly financial statements, they led the annual "soup-to-nuts" budget analysis. Thanks to their tireless efforts and meticulous oversight, the DBA is on very sound financial footing. Thank you Lenore and Greg!

You will, of course, enjoy working with the energetic Young Lawyers Division and their many community outreach programs. Somehow, they found time to continue the successful "After Hours" at the Rock Bottom Brewery.

The Educational Luncheon Committee proceeded apace with the ever-popular Tuesdays at the Bar (how do you all find so many great topics?) and Legal Services had a savory and fun wine-tasting/silent auction fundraiser to benefit the Legal Aid Foundation.

Galloping onward, you will try to keep up with the Bench-Bar Committee (f/k/a/ the Judicial Administration Committee), which sponsored a fascinating retreat this year on "TV Law—Fact or Fiction." Thanks to Mary Beth Sobel, Herb Galchinsky, Larry Manzanares, Howard Rosenbaum and all the committee members who made it such a success.

As you probably recall, early in the year, we changed the name of the Community Concerns Committee to the Community Action Network ("CAN"). I think of them as the "CAN-do" committee, which describes them to a "T." I am not alone in hoping the committee will repeat its delicious (and fattening) program "Just Desserts," which benefitted "Work Options for Women." I also expect to see a second annual "Lawyers Have Heart" 5K, which looks to be a resounding success this June 7. My thanks and congratulations to Lisa Williams, Rebecca Franciscus, Heather Purcell and the entire CAN Committee.

As you charge along, beware of the looming drop-off ahead: city and state budget shortfalls. All of my brilliant (?) ideas to continue the DBA’s work regarding improvements to the justice system and the enhancement of our relationship with the bench were tabled because of the unprecedented budget cuts, which have had a devastating impact on the courts. Michael Valdez and Kim Morss (legal counsel for the Colorado Judicial Branch) worked tirelessly during the 2003 legislative session to manage this crisis. We are deeply indebted to Michael and Kim, who kept the Board of Trustees informed of the day-to-day developments.

Denver District Court Chief Judge Bayless spoke to the Trustees in March about the practical effects of the budget cuts on court. We were stunned at the details and how this is affecting our members and the public. Fortunately, the DBA’s Court Annexed Mediation and Family Law Programs have helped ease the burden of the courts, as has the ADR Committee, which has ensured that we have volunteer mediators at Denver County Court almost every business day. Many thanks to Pat Kenney, Wes Howard, Jim Carr and all those who have worked with them on these great programs.

Joe, this crisis is not going away soon, and has hit the City of Denver (and thus the Denver County Court) hard as well. As a result, you will need to keep in close contact with the Denver Courts and State Judicial to ensure the DBA does whatever we can to help during these difficult times.

I am very sorry you won’t be blessed with the superb immediate past president I had, who capably handled several tough projects. Bill Walters has been a godsend (goddess-send??) whose commitment and dedication to the DBA I deeply appreciate. Bill may now have some quaint thought that he can return to the full-time practice of law and earn a respectable income again. He needs to be disabused of this notion quickly! Whether as auctioneer for "Just Desserts" or liaison to the Legal Services Committee or coordinating the non-YLD volunteers for Law on the Mall, you’ve been terrific, Bill. Thank you.

Also unfortunate for you is that Dave Ells is retiring this month. Dave served as the staff liaison for the three DBA Committees (Public Legal Education, Legal Services and Summer Intern) and has been indispensable in coordinating many of our community projects such as Law Line 9, high school mock trials, the post-bankruptcy clinic, the summer intern program—the list goes on and on. Dave, you’re great and will be missed!

What holds it all together? Our top notch staff, of course, without whom nothing whatsoever could be accomplished. I can’t say enough good things about Lindsay Packard, Karen Bries, Sarah Wagner, Mary Dilworth, and everyone at 1900 Grant who keep this organization humming along. Of course, Chuck, Greg, Dana and Diane—I am indebted to you forever. Not only do you all do your jobs admirably, you also go the extra mile(s) to "Make Leadership Look Good Despite All Mistakes." You will rely on them immensely, Joe, as you should. Frankly, I don’t know what I would have done without them. I think the Immediate Past President’s position is designed in part to help ease the separation anxiety that accompanies the re-entry into a world where one DOESN’T have extraordinarily competent people pointing you in the right direction, saving you from yourself (you probably won’t need that as much as I did), telling you what to say and when to say it, or just generally ensuring the job gets done.

But before you know it, Joe, the ride will be over, you’ll dismount your trusty steed, pass the gavel to Mary Jo and wonder "Where did the time go?" Maybe you’ll want to do a little yoga!


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