Denver Bar Association
April 2013
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From the President: Senior Attorneys Offer Words of Wisdom

by Jim Benjamin

Jim Benjamin

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his year, Colorado Bar Association President Mark Fogg recognized members who have been with the association for 50 years or longer at his visit to the Denver Bar Association. Due to the number of members to recognize, Fogg afforded me the privilege of assisting in recognizing our golden anniversary guests. To do them justice, I contacted these powerhouse lawyers of Denver and chatted with them in advance of the ceremony.

I asked each to give me a "one-liner" of advice to new lawyers — either how to persevere for a half-century of practice or how to build a successful practice. The following are some of the treasures they delivered.

Carl F. Eiberger spent the first years of his life living in condemned buildings off of Colfax and Welton, and he was on his own at age 14. He encourages young lawyers to "keep a proper perspective, put family first, and always think there will be a brighter day to come."

Dick Laugesen, who is the renowned expert in civil procedure and a most favorite son of the CBA (receiving its highest honor, the Award of Merit, in 1991), advises young lawyers to "work hard. Live by the Golden Rule. Participate with and enjoy the wonderful people involved in this great profession."

Tom Grimshaw went to work in 1956 for H. Hal Calkins, a great mentor. Several years later, Grimshaw formed one of the first water districts and as a result became the king of special districts. These two events are the basis of his words of wisdom: "Have the good fortune to work for an outstanding mentor and then be fortunate to find an area of practice that no one else is doing."

Neil Quigley is most beloved for the cartoons he drew for many years for The Colorado Lawyer. His advice for success is to "return phone calls, whether good or bad news or no news," and "prior to trial, you cannot do too much preparation."

Kenneth Hubbard tells young transactional lawyers to remember the adage that "The client is always right as to what needs to be done. When the client says ‘this is what I want,’ you do what they have asked for. If you cannot do exactly what they have asked, you find a way you can do it."

Don McMichael, the chair of the DBA Seniors Committee, instructs members of the bar to "care about the client. Have a sincere, honest concern for the well-being of your client, putting the client above yourself."

Speaking of the DBA Seniors Committee, Mary Jo Gross and I will be on hand at the Seniors Spring Banquet, set for June 4 at the University Club, where we’ll recognize members of the DBA who have practiced for 50 years. More details to come in the May issue.

Update on Office Digs

When I started this term, one of the business matters facing the CBA, DBA, and CLE of Colorado was the expiration of the lease for its current space. Because market conditions were at that time favorable to renters and purchasers, the Joint Management Committee of the DBA and CBA, together with CLE of Colorado, undertook efforts to determine the options for their long-term homes.

A consultant has analyzed more than 90 locations, including locations for rental as well as purchase. The consultant narrowed down the prospective office spaces; however, nothing has been found that is available to purchase in the geographic area determined to be most desirable, or which will be ready for occupancy by the time the current lease expires.

The present investigation pertains to leasehold space. Before publication, several members of the building selection committee toured the short list of buildings, including our current location. They will determine which will meet the needs of the bar affiliates and request proposed term sheets from the landlords. Look for further updates in the next couple of months.

Initiative Introduced Requiring Readmission Every Five Years

In the last five election cycles, citizen groups have introduced proposed constitutional initiatives, designed to place term limits on our judiciary. Although the DBA thought the proponents were solely focused on the judiciary, one group has now expanded its interests to all attorneys.

Our legislative relations director has learned that the group will file its initiative, which seeks to limit attorneys’ bar admission to five-year periods, with the Secretary of State’s office on April 1. Under the title and summary for the proposed initiative, lawyers would be required to reapply for admission at five-year intervals, including re-sitting for the bar exam at the time of each reapplication. According to the sponsors of the initiative, lawyers have become so removed from basic knowledge of the law that to ensure competency to practice they need to demonstrate continued understanding of all areas of the law sufficient to pass the same bar examination that all recent law school graduates are required to pass.

A joint committee of the CBA and DBA has been formed to contest the initiative. The proponents will soon start work on obtaining signatures of registered voters to get the initiative on the ballot. The bar-formed committee is looking for volunteers to man tables that will be set up adjacent to initiative signature gatherers, explaining to voters why they should not sign the initiative petition. CLE of Colorado is in the process of setting up classes designed to educate volunteers on the arguments to be used; the classes will be at reduced tuition fees for DBA members. D


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