Liz Starrs really believes in her profession.
by Lindsay Packard
"I went to lots of Rod Stewart and Jefferson Airplane concerts. I got caught up in the politics and trends of the ’70s, but still managed to go to class and get good grades."
Liz lived in a sorority house.
"It wasn’t the coolest thing for a hippie to do, but I made a lot of friends through my sorority house; I am still friends with many of them today."
Liz went to college during the Vietnam War, in a time of heightened racial and national tensions.
McDonald's Manager Turned Lawyer
"I think what was going on in the world while I was in college has continually influenced my perspective. I have always appreciated the existence of radical organizations because they push the envelope. I may not always agree with their methods, but I understand their goals and the changes that arise as a result make this a much better world."
After graduation, Liz headed for Boston. Once there, she went through a myriad of jobs in an effort to pay the bills and gain some real-life experience. After two years of substitute teaching, selling life insurance and managing a McDonalds, Liz attended law school.
"Friends I have grown up with say I always talked about being a lawyer and, of course, my father was a lawyer, so I was exposed to the profession all through my upbringing. I had considered pursuing law off and on over the years, and since I always believed I could do anything, I just applied."
Liz received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1980. During law school, she was an intern at the Massachusetts State House, for the Ways and Means Committee when Michael Dukakis was governor. For two years, she clerked for a Boston firm.
"Of course I was looking to become an associate after I finished clerking. When the senior partner told me ‘we don’t hire women lawyers here’ I realized that I needed to look elsewhere. Ironically, when I was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers (only the third Colorado woman ever), I ran into my old employer. He was also a "fellow" of the ACTL, and his latest partner was a woman!"
By fall 1981, Liz was an associate at a small Boston law firm, but the firm’s ethics failed to match her expectations of the practice of law. After attending a friend’s wedding in Denver, her friends encouraged her to quit the job she hated and move to Denver.
"I told myself ‘If I pass the bar exam, I move; if I don’t, I stay.’ I passed, and here I am."
In December 1982, Liz met a senior partner at Cooper & Kelley (which was later renamed to Kennedy & Christopher, her current firm) and the two clicked immediately. The firm offered her a job, and in Feb. 1983, Liz started as an associate.
Over the last 20 years, Liz has tried more than 50 civil cases and has immersed herself in her firm and community. She was president of Kennedy & Christopher from 1994-2000 and a director from 1994-2002. Her firm, she believes, is one of the driving forces behind her success.
"Not only are my partners some of the greatest people in the world, they are excellent lawyers. They are like family to me. Having support is an important factor in an attorney’s success."
Liz is a member of the DBA and CBA, Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, ABA, Association of Professional Respon-sibility Lawyers, Defense Research Institute and the American Trial Lawyers Association. She is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates and was recently invited to join the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Currently she serves on the Denver District Court Nominating Commission.
For her presidential year, Liz wants to become an ambassador for lawyers, not only to the public, but among the various lawyers’ associations.
"We need to build bridges and relationships with each other as well as with our clients and the community."
Liz believes that lawyers are often portrayed negatively by the media and society and she would like to change the image of a lawyer from someone who "tries to run the meter up" to that of "a person who takes the extra time to solve problems."
"I have represented lawyers for 19 years. I think that they are some of the smartest, nicest, hardworking and most generous people that I have ever met."