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TCL > April 2014 Issue > The Law Club, Women, and the Evolution of Cultural Norms

April 2014       Vol. 43, No. 4       Page  15
In and Around the Bar
The SideBar

The Law Club, Women, and the Evolution of Cultural Norms
by Marion A. Brewer, Gregory G. Garner

About the Authors

Marion A. Brewer is in private practice and has been a Law Club member since 1985. She is the first woman to be elected Law Club president and presided over the Law Club’s Diamond Jubilee in 1989— Gregory G. Garner is an attorney in the Office of the State Controller Central Contracts Unit. A member of the Law Club since 1988, he served as president in 1995–96, directed 1997’s "Bar Wars: the 50th Anniversary Edition," and assembled the millennial edition of The Green Book, the official chronicle of the Law Club of Denver.

The Law Club, a venerable association of sometimes talented and occasionally civic-minded attorneys, celebrates its 100th anniversary on April 25–26, 2014 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Scheduled activities will include reprises of some of the Club’s most memorable (and infamous) skits and songs, memorabilia displays, silly speeches, and assorted tomfoolery. The Law Club Green Book 1914–2014, a formal and anecdotal history of the organization, will be available to all who dare read it. If readers have any Law Club memorabilia to share with the Law Club Centennial Committee (photographs, programs, scripts, costumes, props), or if you were ever a member of the Law Club and would like to reconnect with the Club, please contact Greg Garner at (303) 478-5662 or

In an effort to acquaint Colorado practitioners with the spirited history of a club that has been graced with the presence of so many legal luminaries over the years, The Colorado Lawyer is publishing a series of articles chronicling the evolution of the Law Club over the last century. A compiled history of the Law Club will be found in The Law Club Green Book 1914–2014,1 available in April. This article is the fifth and final part in the series.

The youthful nature of the Law Club has always made it a cutting-edge organization within the legal community. Nowhere is this more evident than in the response of the Law Club’s leadership during the 1980s to the increasing presence of women as members of the bar. Demographic changes in the profession caused a revolution within the Law Club and ultimately resulted in a substantial restructuring of the organization. This article focuses on the changing role of women in the Law Club and the Club’s responses and reactions to the evolution of Denver’s legal culture in recent decades.

Genesis: Women and the Law Club

In the beginning, a century ago, luncheons for two dozen lawyers under the age of 35 did not include women. As the late Professor Thompson G. Marsh queried in his fifth address to the Law Club on September 24, 1979: "Who would want to associate with the sort of woman who would want to attend a meeting of The Law Club?"2

On January 12, 1926, nearly a dozen years after the Club’s inaugural luncheon, attorney Mary F. Lathrop became the first woman to address the gentlemen of the Law Club when she presented on the American Bar Association (ABA) Convention of 1925.3 Her speech must have been memorable, because the Law Club invited her to lunch again—a mere six years later! In this second presentation to the Law Club members, she discussed "Interesting Characters of the ABA."4 However scintillating Lathrop’s presentations on the ABA may have been, she apparently failed to inspire the Club to consider women lawyers for membership or even to invite other women guest speakers—for decades.5

The next time a woman would formally address the Law Club was on October 14, 1974, when Patricia Schroeder would speak to the group on "Issues of 1974."6 Schroeder was a 1964 Harvard Law graduate. In 1972, she became the first woman elected to represent Colorado in Congress.7 Three weeks after her Law Club speech, she was reelected to the House of Representatives for the first time. Her agreement to speak seems particularly gracious, considering the musical welcome she received in the 1973 Law Club Show "Pasta: Man of the Year,"8 which featured these lyrics (to the tune of "Delta Dawn" popularized by strong woman Helen Reddy):

She’s 35 and her children call her congress person
They’re those who’ll say her condition is apt to worsen
But her husband’s there with a dish cloth in his hand
You can’t call him a chauvinist pig type man

In Washington she’s known as M. S. Schroeder
She’s doing what it takes to woo a voter
By taking many a controversial stand
She’s liberal(ly) spreadin’ her name across the land

Tell us oh Patricia
At times do ya kinda wish ya
Had stayed around here on the scene
And led a placid life
As a lawyer and housewife

Where the pastures are not so green
Congress Person Pat
Tell us where your head is at
Will you tell us if you plan to run again
And if you get the call
Would you design to lead us all
Just smilin’ at us with that precious grin

In that same 1974 election, Barbara Holme, a Law Club wife and show participant, was elected for the first time to the Colorado Senate. Holme represented a busy central Denver Senate district in a seat that had been held for many years by Law Club member John R. Bermingham (who served in the Senate concurrently with Law Club members Joe Shoemaker and Dick Plock). Later, this state Senate seat was held by another Law Club wife, Pat Pascoe, who served as a Colorado State Senator from 1989 to 2003.

The Green Book reveals that in the following year, Mrs. Barbara Sudler was the guest speaker for the luncheon; the topic was "All You Ought to Know About Historic Denver."9 Sudler appears to have been the first woman non-attorney to address the Law Club members. She was, however, the wife of a prominent architect. As the founding mother of Historic Denver, she was a creative character in her own right. On the other hand, there were several non-attorney male guest speakers throughout the Law Club’s early history. The most frequent of these may have been the well-known local business journalist Eugene (Gene) Cervi.10

In contrast to the apparent exclusivity of the Law Club’s membership and speaker policies, Law Club shows gingerly took on the major cultural issues of the politically turbulent 1960s and 1970s. For example, some members of the legal community were dealing with implementation of civil rights legislation of the 1960s. In particular, Law Club member and U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch11 was in the national spotlight due to the prominence of Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado,12 which dealt with segregation in the schools. Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood, home to a number of Law Club families, was a focal point. In the 1971 show "Seamyside Street," the Law Club strode boldly into the fray with its song "When Matsch Ran the Public Schools," featuring a chorus of children and a School Board chorus joining in the following verse:

They’re gonna get to ride the bus
Just like those kids from the rest of town.
A bus from Graland or another rich kid’s school
Is really not all that different, don’t you see?

Wives Take the Stage

Over the years, talented wives graced the Law Club’s shows, as noted in The Green Book’s description of the 1951 performance to which "Mrs. Richard A. Brown (a.k.a. "Ann") brought previously unknown talent, culture and sophistication. . . ."13 Constance Cain made Bob Kapelke’s "He’s My Lawyer" a Law Club classic.14 Marcia Ragonetti shared her talent on stage with both the Law Club and Opera Colorado. Jean Hodges was a star. Show sets were elaborate, thanks to the efforts of talented Law Club wives, including the late Peggy Atkinson.

The Green Book reveals that Law Club shows featured family participation as part of the great Law Club tradition. The "Christmas Goose" program from 1981 even lists "host" families.15 Four decades earlier, the Holme house on Montview Boulevard in Park Hill was a rehearsal venue. The Holme boys, Howard and Richard, grew up watching Law Club rehearsals; both became lawyers and Law Club members, along with William Denious, the late "Chips" Barry, and several other Law Club kids.

Diverse—Up to a Point

The Law Club admitted its first Latino in 1957 when Luis Rovira was elected a member. Twenty years later, Donald Cordova became president of the Law Club. Denver’s future District Attorney Norman Early seems to have been the first black attorney to become a member of the Club, and that occurred in 1974. The late John Kobayashi was accepted into the Law Club with little fanfare in 1977, becoming the first Asian member. The Green Book records that Kobayashi had been a guest speaker on January 12, 1976, presenting on the topic of "Federal Rules of Evidence."16 Later in that bicentennial year, Miles C. Cortez, Jr. and Don Cordova addressed the Law Club, along with future federal Judge John Kane. Cortez spoke on February 9, 1976, on the subject "Advertising for Lawyers: Changes in the Code of Professional Responsibility"; Cordova’s July 19, 1976 topic was "Affirmative Action Hiring at the University of Colorado Law School"; Kane addressed the Club on March 22, 1976 on "History They Never Taught Us."17 Although men with diverse backgrounds were admitted to the Club and discrimination was a topic discussed, Law Club membership remained closed to women.

However, the absence of women Law Club members had long been noted in its written history. In his "Conclusions" to the 1962 edition of The Green Book, Hamlet J. Barry, Jr. observed with characteristic subtlety: "The male and associate members continue to outnumber the active and female."18 In the 1965 Broadmoor production "Rip Van a Go-Go," unseen narrator-in-the-sky and Judge Matsch led the audience through Rip’s adventures, which included an encounter with the "Queen of the Bar," sung to Roger Miller’s famous tune "King of the Road":

My brother said to me,
"Norma, get an LL. B.,
Then we can share the rent
Practice law an’ be content"—I said
"Norm, boy, I’ll be a star—I’ll join
Up with the Denver Bar—I’ll be a
Gal of means, I mean—
Queen of the Bar!"

Now I’m the President
To my brother’s wonderment.
Lawyers around the State
Always seem to congregate—to
What lady lawyers do—I say
"Boys, I’ve got news for you—I’m a
Gal of means, I mean—
Queen of the Bar!"—I draw

Mortgages an’ deeds of trust an’ wills by the score
Scarey hereditaments an’ really much more
Dissolving corporations to make them defunct
Caveating emptors an’ nuncing pro tunc—
But then
I lead a double life
’Cause at home I’m just a wife
Up ev’ry morn at six
Got the ham an’ eggs to fix—I got
Old floors to wax an’ scrub—an’ there’s a
Dirty old ring in the tub—Still I’m a
Gal of means, I mean—
Queen of the Bar!

Ham Barry’s gentle chiding of the Law Club’s exclusionary membership policy proved prescient decades later. The millennium edition of The Green Book reprinted an article from the Rocky Mountain News concerning the impact of the Law Club’s historic exclusion of women lawyers on the career aspirations of a certain member.19 Federal judge nominee Edward Nottingham in 1989 overcame the stigma of having become a member of the Law Club in 1978 by claiming "he had advocated that women be admitted and [had] spoken on behalf of several women hoping to become members." Apparently, the lack of female diversity had not been an issue when Law Club member and 1957–58 Green Book Chair Byron R. White was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962. Times were quite different twenty years later when the Law Club at last addressed its own need to change.

Precedent and Pressure

In late 1979, by the time regulations implementing Title IX20 made clear that it would not be appropriate to discriminate against women in intercollegiate athletics,21 growing numbers of women lawyers were focusing on "equal pay for equal work"; obtaining bench, bar, and board positions; discovering "glass ceilings" at work; and trying to balance career and personal life issues. Organized in 1978, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association (CWBA) began holding annual gatherings that were separate from the CBA conventions at the Broadmoor.

While the Law Club presented the Denver Bar Association’s show biannually at the CBA conventions in Colorado Springs, the CWBA held conventions in other urban and various mountain venues. Because women lawyers were not able to be Law Club members, the CWBA provided an alternative: the "Untimely Motions" (or "Untimelies" for short). This group of women—and a few brave men—assembled to perform for the CWBA conventions and to reprise shows in Denver to raise money for legal and educational charities, primarily for the benefit of women and children.22 Through the Untimelies, the CWBA provided a forum (and stage) for lawyers to communicate their frustration with systemic discrimination against women using humorous songs and dances.

Organized by Pam Hultin and Susan Barnes (who served as a Denver District Court judge), the Untimely Motions attracted attention with a tap-dancing chorus line of lady lawyers who wore fringe, sequins, and fishnet stockings with their tap shoes. A Denver newspaper photo featured the Untimelies, clad as nuns, dancing as Denver Judge Ray Jones sang "She used rhythm" to the tune "I got rhythm."23

The edgy, feminist humor of the Untimely Motions contrasted sharply with the socially acceptable (naughty but nice) humor of the Law Club. On May 12, 1980, CWBA President Leslie Lawson was invited to address the Law Club on the subject of "Discrimination in Private Clubs."24 Lawson’s views extended not only to the Law Club, but also to its favorite luncheon venue over the years, the University Club, and other "male members only" associations around town.25 The notoriety of Untimely Motions was seen by some CWBA members as a contributing factor that prompted the Law Club to reconsider its sixty-nine-year-old male-only membership policy.

By the end of the 1970s, the Law Club leadership decided it was time to accept that the composition of the profession had changed. The Law Club’s active members recognized that their female law school classmates, co-clerks, colleagues at governmental offices, and law firm associates and partners were absent from the Law Club luncheons and shows. Though wives could perform with the Law Club, young women lawyers were not welcomed into membership, which was then restricted to male lawyers under 41 years of age. Moreover, there was a waiting list for membership in the Law Club. Some joked that the Law Club would not admit women until the Supreme Court did, so when Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to the High Court in September 1981 by President Reagan, the time for the Law Club to accept women members had arrived. A solo about Justice O’Connor in the 1981 show "A Christmas Goose" was sung to the tune "Sandra Dee" from the musical Grease:

You must take me for a judge
Don’t ask me to bake your fudge
Patient as Job but I’ll not iron one robe,
Make way for Sandra Dee

I will show that mess o’ gents
How to treat my precedents.
I wear a dress
But I’m no stewardess
And I’ll not pour your tea.

I can’t cook and I can’t knit
But I wield a mighty writ.
Justice is blind but don’t pinch my behind,
You’ll get contempt from me
You see, I’m Sandra D!!

At the same time that Justice O’Connor broke the invisible, unwritten barrier excluding women as members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Denver law firms were getting the message that it was time to adapt, as well. Felicity Hannay shared this vignette:

In 1975 when I went to work there, Davis, Graham & Stubbs had no women partners. I was the sixth woman associate, all of us hired within three or four years. In 1981, I became the third woman partner. Despite these low numbers, or maybe because we were so few that women had not become an "issue" yet, I didn’t really feel any discrimination at the firm myself. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t changes that had to be made!

One of the first two women partners, Andrea Williams, had a startling experience that helped DG&S realize that a new era had arrived. Soon after she became a partner (1978?), there was a partners’ meeting held, as usual, at the University Club. As the story is told, as Andrea was walking up the "U Club" stairs in conversation with some other partners, she was stopped by a staff member and told that she would have to go back down and use the fire-exit stairs; the main stairway was reserved for men only (as was membership in the U Club, of course). Trust me, Andrea was not someone who would laugh something like that off! Davis, Graham & Stubbs did not hold another partners’ meeting there until the membership (and stairway) policies had been changed to admit women.26

The Times They Were A-Changing

At last, during his 1981–82 term as Law Club President, Frederic (Fred) Rodgers took action, nominating for membership Elizabeth (Beth) McCann and Felicity Hannay. Of course, the Club’s policy of discriminating against women lawyers was not official policy, and it ceased when the Law Club voted in the two prominent young women lawyers in the spring of 1982. At the time, McCann was serving as Denver’s Chief Deputy District Attorney, and Hannay was a new partner with Davis Graham & Stubbs. Norm Early seconded McCann’s nomination and Howard Holme seconded Hannay.

Before being elected to membership, Hannay had objected when a partner at her firm promoted the Law Club to its summer associates.

I knew that a number of the Davis, Graham & Stubbs partners were members of the Law Club and enjoyed attending the monthly lunch meetings. Several of them had been involved in the Law Club’s musical plays—Dick Holme, for example, was known for performing comedic "patter songs" à la Gilbert and Sullivan, and Jim Bunch lent his deep baritone/bass voice to several renowned solos ("Ol’ Man Winner" was memorable: "he just keeps judging all wrong!").27

But when I heard a DG&S partner recommending the Law Club as a worthwhile activity to the firm’s . . . new associates, half of whom were women, I had to object. I thought the firm’s Law Club members owed it to their professional colleagues not to actively promote a club that would not even consider membership for some of them.

Unbeknownst to me, there were several then-leaders of the Law Club who had been talking and strategizing for a while about beginning to allow women into the Club. One of them was Jim Bunch; when he heard what I had said about the firm not promoting an organization that would categorically exclude women, he asked if I would be willing to be a "test case" nominee to the Club—and I said, "Sure, why not!?" . . .

I was told that the proposal to invite two women to be members was very controversial, leading to several heated meetings on the subject. I understand that several older . . . members of the Law Club quit the club after Beth and I were narrowly voted in—but I don’t recall who they were. I do remember that everyone I encountered once I became a member was very friendly and welcoming, and that many of the monthly luncheons were informative and often hilarious.28 I also remember that it was great fun to take part in the musical shows at the Broadmoor; I think I was a member of the chorus in two of them, and in one I even had a speaking part—one line!29

McCann said her admission into the Law Club was "an amazing experience."30 She and another of the early women Law Club members, Eileen Lerman, had been two of the "founding mothers" of the CWBA in 1978.31 McCann recently described the CWBA as "a group of women lawyers who recognized that discrimination still existed (and exists) in the legal and judicial professions."32 Although McCann was an experienced trial lawyer, attending her first Law Club event as one of the first two women in the Club was stressful:

As the night approached, I got more and more nervous about this event. I was practicing in the District Attorney’s office at the time so I did not know many of the big firm lawyers and was nervous about the reception I might receive.

I arrived at the University Club and found that the event was in the lower section of the second floor where many events are held. To get there, you have to go down some steps into a large room. I distinctly remember standing at the top of the stairs and looking down and seeing a room full of gray, blue, and black suits. . . . It was intimidating for a young woman attorney, let me tell you! So I took a deep breath and told myself I could do this, and walked down the stairs. Just as I got to the bottom, Justice Luis Rovira came up to me and welcomed me with such a wonderful smile, I was immediately relieved. He told me he wanted me to sit at his table, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his warmth and assistance. I was forever grateful for the understanding he displayed in making sure someone welcomed me . . . and I would never forget the graciousness of Justice Rovira.

I had great admiration for the men who nominated us and the members who had the courage and determination to shepherd through our nominations as members. It was exciting to be a player in such an important moment in the history of the Law Club and the legal profession. Of course, as you know, the Law Club now has many women members and is a stronger organization for it in my opinion. The Club did not cease to exist as some thought it would.33

The Law Club’s action in ending discrimination against women in membership was important for both the legal profession and the broader community. One cannot understate the courage and leadership required of the men who sought to change almost seventy years of male-only membership. Though many predicted the demise of the Law Club due to the admission of women, in fact, it was the Untimely Motions34 that ceased to exist several years after the acceptance of women lawyers as members of the Law Club.

Setting Sail With New Members and Traditions

The Law Club’s 1983 production of "The Law Boat" marked another milestone when new Grievance Committee member Pam Hultin invited her non-member lawyer spouse, Paul, to join her in the cast.35 With predictable self-mocking aplomb, the Intermission Notes for this show stated for the first time:

The Law Club does not discriminate based on sex, race, creed, religion, or tolerance level. However certain discrimination remains with the Club in two specific areas. First, the Law Club does not now and has no current plans to admit penguins. Further discussion of this issue has been limited by Judge Kane’s gag order in 143 Unnamed Mammals of the Genus Penguin v. The Law Club of Denver, et al., pending in the US District Court for the District of Colorado. Second the Law Club has not announced a position on whether, if requested, it would admit either Ann Gorsuch Burford or her husband, Bob "Set Me Free" Burford. Otherwise, the Law Club remains a bastion.

Although increasing diversity in the legal community demanded change, the transition was not without a cost. Women members of the legal profession could finally become members of the Law Club, but the tradition of the shows as an opportunity for family fun at the Broadmoor declined for non-lawyer wives (and ceased altogether when the CBA stopped holding its annual conventions exclusively in Colorado Springs).

An act to enfranchise women lawyers by allowing them to join the Law Club initially appeared to disenfranchise non-lawyer wives who had worked for dozens of years to make the Law Club’s shows so successful. The "women’s work" provided by Law Club wives included everything from great performances on stage to providing homes for rehearsals, meals for hungry performers during rehearsals, choreography, costumes, and sets, as well as serving as stage hands during the shows. Sometime after the Law Boat set sail, apparently non-lawyer wives were simply advised "they weren’t needed anymore." However, within a few years, participation by non-lawyer spouses, children, and friends (especially those with talent) became an accepted practice, if not a dominant one.

Discriminating Against Venue Discrimination

One issue remained after women joined the Law Club in 1982. Meetings were being held at the University Club, which still did not admit women members. Like many private clubs, the University Club maintained certain discriminatory rules and practices. In due course, the Law Club leadership decided to move the luncheon and annual meetings to venues that did not discriminate. The Brown Palace and the Warwick Hotels were alternatives. Although the Law Club had been seen by some as a University Club "feeder" organization over the years, the Law Club took its business elsewhere until the University Club would accept women members.

In 1989, the Law Club selected the Denver Athletic Club (DAC) for its seventy-fifth anniversary celebration—the Diamond Jubilee. The DAC admitted women and most of its facilities were open to women (aside from a men’s-only bar and locker rooms). The Matron of Honor at this storied event was none other than the first female President of the Club, Marion Brewer. Here was an opportunity to smooth ruffled feathers and invite all Law Club members, young and old, to rediscover the irreverent soul of the organization through, as the event program put it: "a loosely connected conglomeration of old songs, skits, sight gags, tired jokes and lame routines from the past 40 years of Law Club Shows."

Prof. Thompson Marsh, founder of the Law Club Show, and wife Susan congratulate Marion Brewer, first woman President of the Law Club, at the 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee, held at the DAC in February 1989.

Madam President fulfilled her role spectacularly, sporting a vivid, sequined dress as she shared the stage with the notables of Law Club history, starting with founder of the Law Club Show, Professor Thompson Marsh. Professor Marsh put all at ease as he came to the podium, faking a stumble with due wit, and then welcoming Brewer to the ranks of the Law Club presidents. With an arm about her shoulder, he signaled that this new era of the Law Club would be a great one! As a brand-new member sitting in the audience, Greg Garner, having no idea of the turmoil that had so recently stirred the venerable Club’s foundations, knew these lawyers truly enjoyed being with one another and would be a source of relief from the tensions of legal practice throughout his career.

The University Club ultimately yielded to history and began admitting women members in the 1990s. Perhaps a small part of the campaign to effect this change came from the Law Club’s 1990 production called "Legal Tender." A female chorus sang the following dirge to the tune "As Long As He Needs Me" from the musical Oliver, which ended with the women turning their backs to the audience:

As long as they bar me
Oh yes they do bar me
There’s no equality
While the U Club bars me

Why don’t they want me in
A gal can be their friend
As well as any men
Even so they bar me

As long as it’s all men
I’ll fight hard to get in
And someday I will win
The U Club will take me

In 1992, the Law Club returned to the now friendlier confines of the University Club to host its annual meeting, where such meetings have been held every year since.

Law Club officers and directors, (left to right) Barbara Laff, Josiah Hatch, David Lichtenstein, and Brenda Taylor, conduct the Club’s annual meeting at the University Club.

Resulting Changes: Romance,
Family Life, and the Law Club

Inevitably, after the admission of women to Law Club membership, "things" changed. Shared interests in the law and Law Club activities brought people together. Although only the parties involved know of romantic moments that may have occurred since the admission of women to the Club, there have been several weddings (and a few divorces). A "Side Note" in The Green Book chronicles the union of Law Club members (and Past Presidents) Fred Rodgers and Valerie McNaughton.36 Other Law Club lawyer couples include Michael Canges and Past President Nina Iwashko; former Secretary and Treasurer Judge Ken Laff and Past President Barbara Laff; and the current Treasurer Richard Arnold and Jean Arnold (Richard’s wife and partner at Arnold & Arnold). Mayor Doug Tisdale and the late Pat Tisdale and Past President Craig Eley and Cynthia Eley had been Law Club couples before women were permitted as members. Law Club kids following in the tradition of the Holme brothers and others37 now exist in great numbers, and several have performed in shows since women lawyers became Club members. Around the millennium, a cast of Law Club kids empowered a biting parody of the Harry Potter phenomenon that had swept the globe. The Law Club’s "Channel Surfing USA" show featured the following ditty sung to the tune of "Que Será, Será":

Parents all the world around
Love to see children
Reading a book
Kids won’t be frightened
By witches and ghosts
Come on and take a look.

He’s a sorcerer.
He flies and he casts a spell.
He battles Lord Voldemort.
And he does it well.

"Going Over the Hill"
Eliminated as "Age Discrimination"

The Law Club was established in 1914 to meet the needs of young Denver lawyers for networking within the legal community long before the concept of a "network" was recognized as a useful thing to have. Bylaw changes to deal with the Law Club’s founding policy of age discrimination did not occur until 1995. By the 1990s, it had become apparent that "young to the profession" did not necessarily mean young in age. Increasingly, "new" attorneys included those who selected law as a second or third career.

In 1995, President Gregory Garner proposed the maximum age for active membership be raised to 45, to allow several members then over the age of 40 to serve as officers of the Law Club. Ultimately, the Law Club decided to eliminate the process of "going over the hill" to accommodate a woman who had been selected as vice president in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium. Valerie McNaughton described how her nomination prompted the change in the Bylaws to end age discrimination:

I first realized that I was over the hill when Brian Stockmar yelled out "How old IS she?" when I was nominated for Vice President at the 2006 or so annual meeting. I clocked in at 56, so you can well understand my sniffy reply that that number was unlisted. Shortly thereafter, President David Sesserman proposed an amendment to the Bylaws getting rid of the rule excluding lawyers over 45. That change, and the blessed coming of the Ethics Revue, has ensured the continued viability of the Club. We reasoned that people don’t become less talented or funny as they get older.38

Court of Appeals Judge Diana Terry is a Law Club Girl (and past president and director of many shows).  

Indeed, Court of Appeals Judge Diana Terry presented this little ditty (to the tune of "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend") at a Roast to demonstrate the appreciation an aging woman attorney feels for the community created by the Law Club.

Law Club is a Girl’s Best Friend

I’ll sing a few words, but don’t wax sentimental
Tho’ you have been a girl’s best friend
To my sense of youth this award’s detrimental
Like nothin’ could
You shoved me into geezerhood

With hair dye I’ll work the lie
That I’m still in the flower of youth
And bifocal glasses
Young lawyers can detect the truth

So thanks to the Laffs, hey it’s nifty just seein’ ya
You all have been a girl’s best friend
And thanks for the shows and the fun times with Nina
And most divine
Those lyrics by Dave Lichtenstein

Can’t quit now, the dropping Dow
Says I’ll still have to work ’til I’m dead
Since we still gotta outlive guys
Hey where’s our next gig guys?

Law Club
Law Club
Law Club’s been this girl’s best friend!39

The Ethical Secret Savior

McNaughton’s reference to the "blessed coming of the Ethics Revue" speaks to the impact on the Law Club of the demise of the CBA’s annual conventions at the Broadmoor. The "Secret Savior" of the Club has been CBA Executive Director and Law Club member Chuck Turner, who, together with Gary Abrams, Executive Director of Continuing Legal Education in Colorado, Inc., provided support and a forum for the Law Club’s antics—er, talents. Since the advent of the Ethics Revue in 2005, the Law Club has had to adapt anew. The current focus of the Law Club’s musical exploits is promoting the ethical behavior of the Denver legal community. These shows, for which attendees receive three CLE ethics credits, are as irreverent and humorous as any of the great shows of the past, but as Bill Cosby might say, "If you don’t watch out, you might learn something."40

The Future of the Club

Common characteristics are found in those associated with the Law Club, whether they are the women lawyer members of the last three decades, the men who founded many great Denver law firms, the famous and the notorious judges, or the Law Club spouses. These people are multifaceted and multitalented multitaskers. They play well with one another (usually), perform well under stress (sometimes), and manage multiple responsibilities while giving of their talents and themselves in service to their families, friends, the legal profession, and the broader community.

Members of the Law Club quietly keep fighting for justice and equity for all. An example from a recent rehearsal springs to mind. Performing parents often need to bring their children to rehearsals. During one autumn evening at the Denver Musicians Union, Christine Thornton presented her songs and lines on cue, kept an eye on her son, and managed to take time to deliver a dinner plate filled with food to a homeless person who had dropped in to watch the rehearsal. That’s what many Law Club families have done for decades: balancing careers, parenting, and great performances with acts of compassion and kindness.

With no gender restrictions, no age limitations, and a standard "gig," thanks to the support of Gary Abrams and Chuck Turner, the Law Club looks forward to a bright and productive future, entertaining our fellow attorneys while always being sure to entertain ourselves. On April 25 and 26, 2014, all surviving Law Clubbers are invited to meet and sing and laugh at the old stomping grounds: the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. In the fall of 2014, the Club will mount a full scale "Law Club Show" at a venue to be determined in the Denver metro area. Thereafter, we anticipate at least another 100 years of mirth and camaraderie, always true to our motto: "As adversaries do in law, Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends."41


1. The Green Book has been published irregularly—but reverently—since 1925. It was last issued in 2000. A limited number of copies of the 2000 edition are available for free to those who contact Greg Garner at (303) 866-2862 or The new Centennial volume will be available in April 2014 in hard copy and multimedia editions.

2. Marsh, "Introduction to the 1983 Edition of the Law Club" (from a speech delivered on Sept. 24, 1979), The Green Book 1914–2000 at 11 (Spark Publishing LLC, June 2000) (The Green Book). The Law Club seemed to fancy hearing from its own members, repeatedly inviting Marsh to speak (April 15, 1931; Oct. 24, 1934; April 20, 1938; April 7, 1943; and Sept. 24, 1979); as well as entertaining addresses from future Tenth Circuit Chief Judge Jean S. Breitenstein (Oct. 10, 1934; May 8, 1940; June 11, 1945; and Jan. 9, 1950); a future chair of the Denver Water Board, Monte Pascoe (May 8, 1967; Sept. 16, 1968; Nov. 23, 1981; March 14, 1983; and May 21, 1984); and Denver’s District Attorney Dale Tooley (March 22, 1971; Oct. 23,1972; March 12, 1977; and Feb. 28, 1983). Id., passim.

3. "Speeches Delivered at Meetings of the Law Club," The Green Book at 125, 129. Interestingly, Clarence Darrow addressed the Law Club later that year, on September 29, 1926; his topic is listed in The Green Book as "No Title." Id. at 130.

4. Id. at 132.

5. Even during the war years (World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War), when many women had opportunities, it seems that no women were called to the Law Club podium. Id., passim.

6. Id. at 151.

7. Other candidates on the ballot that autumn included Richard Lamm, who was elected Governor; Gary Hart, who became a U.S. Senator; and Timothy Wirth, who joined Schroeder in the House. The new governor’s majordomo was Law Club member L. Richard Freeze, who addressed the members on March 24, 1975, in a speech entitled "Lamm on the Run—The First Seventy Days." Id. at 152. At the end of his first term, Governor Lamm spoke to the Law Club during his reelection campaign on August 21, 1978. Id. at 153.

8. Certainly before the term was even coined, the Law Club was not "politically correct"; however, its tradition of parody was always sharp and pointed at the major events of the day. In any case, Schoeder had the last laugh, winning reelection eleven times.

9. Id. at 152.

10. Id. at 139 (one of Cervi’s speeches was entitled "The Lawyer and the Public Relations Counselor—Friends or Foes" (July 28, 1947)); id. at 147 (another was entitled "Twenty five Years Later and I Still Don’t Know Anything About Art, but I Know What I Like" (July 20, 1964)).

11. Id. at 146 (of course, Judge Matsch had proved his ability to handle difficult issues by the time of his Law Club address on October 23, 1961, entitled "Denver, The Twentieth Amendment, and Annexation").

12. Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado, 413 U.S. 189 (1973).

13. The Green Book at 61.

14. The Kapelke creation from 1979’s "Friday Night Live" was reprised for the Law Club’s seventy-fifth anniversary, with Kapelke as lawyer prop and music stand. Cairns, "The Law Club, 1964–89: The Law Club Matures(?)," 42 The Colorado Lawyer 27, 31 n.18 (Dec. 2013). Repeatedly since that time, "He’s My Lawyer" has been presented by chanteuse and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Taylor.

15. The Green Book at 81.

16. Id. at 152. Kobayashi was invited to address the group again as a member on November 27, 1978, on the topic of "Colorado’s New Rules of Evidence." Id. at 153.

17. Id. at 152.

18. Id. at 22.

19. Id. at 162 (quoting MacPherson, "Judicial nominee closely questioned," Rocky Mountain News 32 (Nov. 16, 1989)). MacPherson noted that following fifteen minutes of questioning, the chief minority member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Strom Thurmond, found the Law Club member "well qualified" to fill one of two federal district court vacancies in Colorado.

20. Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. No. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241 (July 2, 1964).

21. More than seven years after enactment [Education Amendments of 1972, Pub. L. No. 92 318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), 20 USC §§ 1681 to 1688] during the Carter Administration, the Department of Health Education and Welfare explained that the law regarding discrimination against women in education would apply in the context of intercollegiate athletic competition. This was quite a development. "A Policy Interpretation: Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics," 44 Fed. Reg. 239 (Dec. 11, 1979).

22. In 1985, for example, the CWBA sponsored the "Untimely Motions Salute: Moms and Other Mothers" at Bonfils Theater on Mother’s Day Eve. The event was a benefit for the Colorado Coalition for Justice for Abused Women and the Jonathon L. Olom Trial Advocacy Scholarship Fund, in memory of a young Denver lawyer who performed in three shows with the Untimely Motions.

23. The Green Book at 23.

24. Id. at 154.

25. These included the Denver Club and the Denver Country Club.

26. E-mail from Felicity Hannay to authors (Feb. 6, 2014).

27. It should be noted that Fred Winner, as a Law Club member, addressed the June 11, 1951 luncheon, in a speech entitled "Recent Condemnation Proceedings in Denver." The Green Book at 141. However scholarly Winner’s condemnation presentation might have been in 1951, it did not save him from the Law Club’s condemnation two decades later when he was lampooned for his impatient judicial temperament and controversial decisionmaking.

28. Hannay recalled:

I had heard one of the objections to women members was that the club would no longer be a friendly place to tell dirty jokes. I tried to allay those fears in my "Maiden Address" by including a couple of the filthiest jokes I could find! [CBA Executive Director] Chuck Turner came up to me after the presentation to tell me I had actually made him blush.

E-mail from Felicity Hannay to authors (Feb. 7, 2014). Hannay’s subject for her maiden address on November 8, 1982 was "Acquisition of Water Rights for Development." The Green Book at 155.

29. E-mail from Felicity Hannay to authors (Feb. 6, 2014).

30. E-mail from Beth McCann to authors (Nov. 17, 2013).

31. The first president of the CWBA was Natalie Ellwood. In addition to McCann and Lerman, her inaugural Board comprised Kathy Bonham, Janice Buchanan, Carole Dominguin, Cathlin Donnell, Frances Koncilja, Shayne Madsen, Sandy Rothenberg, and Jo Ann Weinstein.

32. McCann also noted:

One of the issues we actually discussed was the fact that the University Club did not admit women nor allow them to come in the front door—even federal judges! We also were frustrated that the Law Club did not admit women lawyers as members although wives of male members were allowed to participate in the shows.

E-mail from Beth McCann to authors (Nov. 17, 2013).

33. Id.

34. In 1985, in addition to McCann, the Untimelies troupe included Margaret Brewer, Marion Brewer, Marjorie Ett, Amy Greenfield, Liz Guillen, Pamela Hultin, Judith James, Helen Knoll, Eileen Lerman, Susan Martin-Neef, Lynda McNeive, Brenda Taylor, Sandy Waters, Jo Ann Weinstein, and Marla Williams, the majority of whom became early women Law Club members and some of whom later helped alter the sexual balance of University Club membership. "The Untimely Motions Salute Moms & Other Mothers," Program Notes Inside Front Cover (May 11, 1985).

35. The Green Book at 81. Hultin also joined the Law Club in 1982, shortly after McCann and Hannay, and was shepherded through the membership process by Bob Kapelke, who was apparently at the time "going over the hill." See John F. (Jeff) Welborn’s September 27, 1982 address, entitled "Tax consequences of Exploratory Drilling (Over The Hill Tribute to Bob Kapelke)." Id. at 155.

36. Id. at 9.

37. To our knowledge, no recent Law Club kids have followed in the Holme/Barry/Denious tradition by choosing law as a profession, but there is still time!

38. E-mail from Valerie McNaughton to authors (Nov. 27, 2013).

39. E-mail from Valarie McNaughton to authors (Nov. 20, 2013).

40. "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (1972). See

41. Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act I, Scene ii (1593–94).

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