Leading with Empathy: A Message from Our Attorney General, 0221 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 2 Pg. 4

PositionVol. 50, 2 [Page 4]

50 Colo.Law. 4

Leading with Empathy: A Message from Our Attorney General

Vol. 50, No. 2 [Page 4]

Colorado Lawyer

February, 2021



If you've read any of my previous President's Messages or have heard me speak in my capacity as CBA president, you probably know that (1) the theme for my presidential term is Lawyers as Leaders, and (2) Attorney General Phil Weiser is the inspiration. As Colorado's 39th Attorney General, AG Weiser is not just a leading lawyer. He's the leading lawyer in our state. And in my view, we are very fortunate to have him in this role.

Serving as our Attorney General is a big job, and of course AG Weiser is very busy. Nevertheless, in his "spare time," he is and has been amentor to hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other lawyers in Colorado. He has helped lawyers and law students connect with other attorneys, pursue their passions, advance their professional goals, and secure employment opportunities. As head of the largest law department in Colorado, he has hired many of these lawyers and law students himself. He surrounds himself with the best people—mosdy lawyers but also his physician wife of almost 20 years, Heidi Wald. With his high ideals, natural optimism, endless energy, and genuine interest in and meaningful relationships with others, AG Weiser draws people in. And when he asks diem to work with him or collaborate on some project, it is almost impossible to say no.

Maybe that is partly because AG Weiser never seems to say no. He is always willing to collaborate. I have found that to be the case since I first met him when he was dean of the University of Colorado School of Law (CU Law), a role he served in from 2011 to 2016. During those years, I was on the CBA's Committee for Balanced Legal Careers (CBLC) and also the board of the Colorado Women's Bar Association (CWBA), ultimately serving as CWBA president. Dean Weiser worked with me on a number of programs relating to equity, diversity, and inclusivity, including a CBLC program on work/life flexibility, a dean's leadership luncheon and first-year orientation discussion at CU Law on gender diversity and leadership, a CWBA program on die "confidence gap" between men and women, another on alternative metrics for evaluating attorneys, and—after becoming AG in 2018—a program with Gibson Dunn, diversity bar associations, botii local law schools, and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) on what different legal employers look for in new attorneys.

In addition, AG Weiser encouraged and supported my application for CBA president, brainstormed with me in a meeting at his office while I was president-elect, and has accompanied me on two of my presidential visits to local bar associations, where he spoke on panels along with District Attorney Beth McCann, Senator Pete Lee, andformerlegislator Cole Wist on the topic of alternative careers for lawyers as leaders in government.

All this collaboration over many years has led me to view AG Weiser as a "leadership mentor," meaning someone who helps and inspires me to be willing to step up and lead—to give back to others and our profession. After all, AG Weiser has been giving back his entire career. As mentioned, before becoming AG, he served as a professor of law and dean of CU Law, w here he founded die Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, andEntrepreneurship. He also served in senior leadership positions in die Obama Administration and was appointed to serve as a deputy assistant AG in the U.S. Department of Justice and as senior advisor for technology and innovation at the White House's National Economic Council. Earlier in his career, AG Weiser co-chaired the Colorado Innovation Council and served in President Bill Clinton's Department of Justice. After graduating from law school, he clerked in Denver for Judge David Ebel on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and then held two clerkships at die U.S. Supreme Court, for Justices Byron White and Rudi Bader Ginsburg.

AG Weiser continues to be inspired by former Justice Ginsburg's example.1 As he wrote in tribute to Justice Ginsburg, citing the well-known example of her relationship with former Justice Antonin Scalia, "Justice Ginsburg was a model in how to befriend and engage diose who might not always agree with each odier."2 AG Weiser is a model for how to do diis as well. He has been described as "both very progressive and also verypragmatic."[3] He works "with attorneys general of both parties" to "advance solutions."4 He is a "big advocate of an open door for affected parties to share their perspectives."5 He has even been criticized by some, but lauded by otiiers, for "his willingness to bring industry to the table."6 But perhaps Katie Reill·y of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell said it best...

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