Leadership in a Year of Crisis and Growth, 0621 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 6 Pg. 4

PositionVol. 50, 6 [Page 4]

50 Colo.Law. 4

Leadership in a Year of Crisis and Growth

Vol. 50, No. 6 [Page 4]

Colorado Lawyer

June, 2021



This is it: My final President's Message. What a year this has been. It seems like a lifetime ago that my "leadership mentor"1 Patricia Jarzobski encouraged me to apply for this role. Patty had preceded me as president of the Colorado Women's Bar Association (CWBA) and went on to serve as CBA president in 2016-17. Notably, she was the first female CBA president in 10 years and only the fifth female president in the Bar's then 119-year history. These statistics were compelling to me, and I decided to try to follow in Patty's footsteps—again. I hoped that by throwing my hat in the ring, I might inspire other women to lead, just as she has inspired me.

I was honored when the CBA Nominating Committee chose me as president-elect in 2019, and I quickly went to work on my presidential theme. With help from my other leadership mentor, Attorney General Phil Weiser, I selected Lawyers as Leaders. This was well before any of us had ever heard the terms "COVID-19" and "social distancing" or the names George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. So when things changed rather dramatically last year, I briefly considered whether I needed a theme that was more reflective of the times. But I concluded pretty readily that a leadership theme was more appropriate than ever—to get through these crises, we would need lawyers to step up and lead in so many ways.

Spreading the Message

The need for strong and effective leadership became even more evident as the year unfolded. In addition to a worsening and prolonged public health crisis and continued racist brutality, we faced unprecedented levels of unemployment, "100-year" wildfires, a divisive election, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a surge in hate crimes targeted at the Asian-American Pacific Islander community (including the Georgia shooting spree), allegations of sexual and gender harassment against the Colorado Judicial Branch, and amass shooting at King Soopers in Boulder.

Despite (and because of) these many challenges, I promoted the Lawyers as Leaders theme to groups of lawyers and potential leaders all over the state. I talked about leadership at my 25 virtual local bar visits, at my only in-person bar visit in the mountains, in more than 20 meetings and programs (including CLEs and symposiums), on three video messages, and during one podcast.[2] In addition, because I had collaborated with our community leaders to develop leadership-themed CLE programs at most of my local bar visits, I put together a Lawyers as Leaders spring series of free CLE programs for CBA members across the state.

During my presentations, I frequently borrowed from Stanford Law School Professor Deborah Rhode's book Lawyers as Leaders, noting that "no occupation in America supplies a greater proportion of leaders than the legal profession," a field that naturally attracts people with the "ambition and analytical capabilities to lead."3 Indeed, lawyers sit at the top of many organizations—law firms, corporations, universities, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, to name a few. Yet the legal profession "has done little to prepare lawyers to lead"4 through tangible leadership skills development.

This rings true for me: In my 26 years at a large international law firm, I have attended and conducted countless training programs relating to skills development (taking depositions, writing summary judgment motions, etc.) and marketing/ client development. These courses have been worthwhile, but none focused on leadership, and very few provided management training. It may be assumed that lawyers have these skills naturally or will learn them through the course of their work That might be true for some lawyers. But for many of us, management and especially leadership training is an untapped avenue for growth that could help advance die legal profession and our broader community objectives.

Lawyers Stepping Up to Lead

Fortunately, bar associations, including local, diversity, and specialty bar associations, are ideally suited to provide leadership training and experience. In addition to offering opportunities to serve on and lead sections and committees, bar associations offer formal and informal leadership training. For example, the CBA has a first-rate leadership training program called COBALT, and it's working on a YLD-led initiative to create another statewide program called the Colorado Diverse Attorneys Community Circle (CODACC). CODACC's goal is to provide diverse attorneys with an avenue to connect with other diverse attorneys throughout die state, but it also includes a leadership component. One of its objectives is to facilitate diverse attorneys taking more leadership positions in their workplaces and in bar associations.

Bar association CLE programs and networking opportunities also help lawyers and law students develop substantive expertise and build relationships, both of which are valuable to aspiring leaders. Bar associations also offer opportunities to lead by participating in various efforts and initiatives, such as legislative reform and access to justice. Leading is not about having a certain title, such as managing partner or committee chair. All lawyers have opportunities to lead.

Below are some of the ways the CBA and its members have been leading this past year. I urge all lawyers (who are able5 ) to participate in one or more of these activities.

1. Provide pro bono assistance/or individuals and small businesses that are struggling.

I wrote about pro bono service in my October President's Message6 because the need was so significant in light of the pandemic, and that continues to be the case. We also highlighted pro bono service at our San Luis Valley Bar visit. There, Colorado Outward Bound Director Lauren Schmidt talked with Court of Appeals Judge Christina Gomez and Melanie MacWilliams-Brooks about opportunities to perform appellate pro bono services, and with former CBA Program Attorney Leslie Kelly about the Federal Pro Se Clinic. In May, Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix led a similar program with Judge Gomez, as well as Magistrate Judge Kato Crews and Danae Woody, who discussed the Federal Limited Appearance Program (FLAP), and Connie Talmage, who talked about Colorado COVID Legal Relief (CCLR). I also invited Senior Court of Appeals Judge Daniel Taubman to join the panel at the El Paso County Bar Association visit to highlight lawyers' ethical responsibility to do pro bono work.7 During that visit, we recognized some pro bono stars, including Allen Ziegler and 50-year CBA member Steven Barr.

2. Reach out to friends and colleagues who have struggled mentally or emotionally during this difficult year.

Mental health problems are a significant challenge for our profession even in "normal" times, and both pandemics (COVID-19 and racial violence and injustice) have exacerbated this issue. My November Message addressed this subject in depth, outlining both sources of stress and solutions.8 The Northwest Colorado Bar Association visit likewise focused on attorney wellness, with presentations from Ryann Peyton, director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP), and Amy Kingery,assistant director of the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT