Justice Gregory Hobbs: Relentless Advocate for Access to Justice, 0222 COBJ, Vol. 51, No. 2 Pg. 54

PositionVol. 51, 2 [Page 54]

51 Colo.Law. 54

Justice Gregory Hobbs: Relentless Advocate for Access to Justice

No. Vol. 51, No. 2 [Page 54]

Colorado Lawyer

February, 2022


Justice Gregory Hobbs

Relentless Advocate for Access to Justice


Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs was famous for his poetry and photography, his bolo ties, and his love of the water. But he will also be remembered as a visionary and a quiet pioneer whose relentless energy and tireless commitment to access to justice fundamentally transformed the state's legal landscape. Justice Hobbs understood that "[a]ccess to justice is the single most compelling reason for a legal profession," and he dedicated himself to spreading that message.

Birth of the ATJ Commission

One of the lasting results of Justice Hobbs's dedication to this mission is the existence of Colorado's Access to Justice Commission (ATJC). The ATJC, established in 2003, was one of the first in the country. Justice Hobbs recognized the need for a statewide entity committed to promoting measures that would increase the ability of people of limited means to access the justice system.

He also understood it was essential for the ATJC to be independent—not a creature of the Supreme Court, the General Assembly, Colorado Legal Services, or the Colorado Bar Association, but instead a partnership reflecting the commitment of each of these entities to improving the legal system. "This vision of independence but connection was always really important for him," explains former ATJC chair Fred Baumann. "He knew the Commission had to be an independent place of synergy to be most effective."

Justice Hobbs's approach to creating the ATJC was emblematic of his strategic approach to a range of access to justice solutions. He was, as Commissioner Emeritus John Zakhem recalls, the "first true champion on the Colorado Supreme Court for increasing access to justice," and he understood that lasting change requires effective partnerships and community support.

Shaping Pro Bono Policy

With that understanding, Justice Hobbs led a wave of rule changes that opened up new opportunities for attorneys to provide pro bono representation to people who could not afford to pay for legal advice. His advocacy was instrumental in the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to (1) authorize limited scope representation through Colorado Rule of Professional...

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