In this inaugural episode of our podcast by young lawyers for young lawyers, host Kevin Cheney of Cheney, Galluzzi & Howard speaks with Denver personal injury attorney Jennifer Chamberlain of Bowman & Chamberlain, LLC. How did you find your groove? What's it like opening a law firm? What advice do you have for up and coming attorneys? Tune in and find out!
Is it okay to get to law school and not really have a direction? It is. Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Development at Colorado University, did everything he thought he was supposed to do in law school only to discover that he wasn’t on the right path. After switching gears as a 3L, he figured it out. Todd talks about the importance of pre-graduation work experience, important things to know about the legal market post Great Recession, the reliance of the Rocky Mountain Region, what’s on the horizon for law students, and how to get a job.
Todd Rogers has led the Colorado Law Career Development Office (CDO) for over eight years. In that time, through the coordinated efforts of students, alumni, faculty, and staff, Colorado Law's percentage of graduates employed in full-time, year or more JD required or preferred positions has improved by over 30%.
Find out more about Todd Rogers
Christina Brown discovered in law school that she wanted to work in the removal defense field of immigration law. Specifically, she wanted to concentrate on the humanitarian work within immigration. Helping asylum seekers, victims of violence and persecution, and obtaining V Visas and U Visas – this is where she found her passion. Problem was, many firms do not want to take on this type of work. So, Christina founded The Law Office of Christina Brown LLC. They warned her that the practice she envisioned would not be successful, they were wrong. Find out what’s involved in a typical immigration case and what it takes to prepare yourself and your client for an asylum trial.
Find out more about Christina Brown
There are so many constructs of law school that weigh on students’ mental health. That is why Johnnie Nguyen and his fellow council members voted unanimously to make mental health their primary policy issue for the 2019-20 year. Johnnie is the first Coloradan elected chair of the American Bar Association’s Law Student Council where he represents the interests of more than 120,000 law students from the nation’s 204 ABA-accredited law schools. Johnnie and host Kevin Cheney discuss the value of the ABA’s Young Lawyer Division, how to navigate law school while connecting with mentors and juggling responsibilities, and what it is like to be a first-generation law student at the University of Colorado Law School (’21).
Find out more about Johnnie Nguyen
Why is reaching out to potential mentors so intimidating? J. Ryann Peyton is the Executive Director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP). CAMP helps Colorado’s lawyers find their people, their place, and their purpose in the Colorado legal community by connecting folks with mentors, coaches, and other professional development opportunities so that they can find who they are and where they want to be in their profession. Law students are eligible as are attorneys currently practicing in other states with the intention of relocating to Colorado.
Ryann discusses her path through the legal profession, her work with CBA’s YLD, and CBA’s efforts to bolster Diversity & Inclusion in leadership roles.
Find out more about J. Ryann Peyton
Find out more about the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program
A career is rarely a straight line. It’s okay to not have a master plan. Be flexible and don’t fear making changes. Honorable S. Kato Crews is a Magistrate Judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, appointed by the District Judges in August 2018. Tune in to find out how he got there and some of the lessons he learned along the way. Throughout his career, Judge Crews has sought-out meaningful ways to impact the community. He has served on the board of directors of numerous non-profit organizations and regularly makes himself an available resource to students for mentoring and guidance.
Find out more about Judge S. Kato Crews
We’re back from our short hiatus with a real truth-teller. Jay Kamlet is part of a new breed of real estate lawyers. Throughout his career, he has engineered $15 billion worth of property negotiation in Colorado and nationwide. But it wasn’t easy to get there. A common theme of our show is that careers are rarely a straight line. Jay Kamlet describes how he got established, navigating multiple economic downturns including the Great Recession, and weathering the many fluctuations the Denver real estate market has experienced in the last 30 years. And he reminds us that it's never too late to "re-market your passion."
Family law can be a challenging practice area with a high emotional toll, but also much emotional reward. Danaé Woody didn’t set out to become a practicing lawyer. She was fascinated by the academics of law and recognized how much a person can do with a law degree. But she figured out what worked for her. Now she owns her own practice, Woody Law Firm, LLC, where she focuses on family law. She was recently the past Chair of CBA’s Young Lawyer’s Division. Find out how she got where she is and her advice for young lawyers.
Denver native Meranda Vieyra has been working in law firms since she was eighteen. When she noticed that most of the law school graduates heading to solo and small firms needed help promoting themselves, she took a chance and decided to fill this hole in the market. In 2016, she opened Denver Legal Marketing, the only legal marketing agency in Colorado that focuses on solo and small firms. A true entrepreneur, today Meranda is innovating the field of legal marketing, making sure that lawyers doing good work get the right type of promotion they need to sell their services.
Much of the stress that law students feel comes from the notion that they must have every step of their journey figured out. A theme of our show is hearing from successful attorneys who all seem to say a variation on the same thing: let that go. As a mentor once told our guest Nicholas Troxel, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” (One of host Kevin Cheney’s new favorite quotes btw) Being open to course-changing opportunities is key to finding your niche. Nick had made up his mind that he was going to law school in Los Angeles, but then he came over the hill and saw Boulder for the first time and decided CU was where he belonged. But one decision made early on has stuck – Nick is a born entrepreneur. He knew he wanted to found his own firm. Today he is co-founder of Troxel Fitch, LLC. In this episode, Nick gets down into the details of what’s entailed when striking out on your own in the legal world.
It’s amazing the things you can discover at a lunch and learn. Philip Nickerson had his sights set on B2B sports marketing, but while studying the business of sports at Baylor, he became interested in negotiating principles which led to his aha moment – what about law school? Now Philip has recently concluded his two-year federal clerkship for Judge S. Kato Crews where he was the only black clerk. Discover what brought him to this amazing experience and hear his advice for other attorneys of color who may be seeking clerkships or even just looking for mentors. For more information about federal clerkships and open positions, check out oscar.uscourts.gov
What role does a lawyer have in social justice? A significant one. Not only are attorneys able to effectuate change, but they can also help educate and empower non-lawyers to speak for themselves. As a family law attorney, Raquel Hernandez has been on the front lines in the battle for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11), we are proud to bring you Raquel’s personal parallel journeys to becoming an attorney and to understanding her identity as bisexual.
Please Note: This episode contains a detailed description of one person’s journey to coming out as LGBTQ. Part of that story depicts an episode of bullying which includes offensive language. The CBA does not condone the use of this language; however, we have not edited it out in an effort to remain true to this personal story.
If you are interested in connecting with other out attorneys, contact the Colorado LGBT Bar Association. If are questioning your sexuality and are looking for assistance, please contact the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program (COLAP) at 303-986-3345 or the LGBT National Helpline at 888-843-4564
Sometimes law schools have a difficult time helping students find their career path. Laura Wolf knew that she wanted to work in civil rights but wasn’t quite sure how to get there. After extensive research in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, she landed a federal clerkship with Judge R. Brooke Jackson. From there she worked for prominent Denver civil rights firm Rathod Mohamedbhai where she became Partner. Now she has co-founded Wolf Guevara LLC where she is “committed to ensuring that each and every person in our community is afforded the right to dignity, equity, and opportunity.” Laura has also founded Spark Justice Careers where she helps individuals on their path to careers in civil rights. Laura Wolf is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Gary McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer award which recognizes a young Colorado lawyer for his or her outstanding contributions to the legal profession and the community.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started out? Denver civil litigation attorney, Tanya Sevy, gives practical advice on how keeping an open mind can get you to your dream job a lot faster than tunnel vision. From her clerkship with Judge Ross B.H. Buchanan to her current position as a member of the Trial Section at Moye White, Tanya details her career path, the highlights of her clerkship, and walks us through the day-to-day of a civil litigation attorney.
Linda Chalat began her career with a degree in chemical engineering. Handling hazardous materials during her first job piqued her interest in RCRA law (the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Ultimately, she was inspired to go to law school to better understand RCRA laws and “why they were written so badly.” A self-described math and science nerd, she was delighted to discover the union between the technical and the legal aspects of what she was doing in the realm of chemical engineering.
So what does any of this have to do with Personal Injury Law? Well, it’s all part of the journey to discovering what really makes you tick. When asked how she went from RCRA law to personal injury, Linda says it was “a clear-cut case of love at first sight.”
Linda’s advice to young lawyers: Personal injury practice is rewarding emotionally, but not necessarily financially. At least not in the beginning. But the diversity of cases keeps it engaging.
Linda also has valuable words of wisdom on how technology is now and will continue to impact the practice of law, how to find case management software that is the best fit for you, being a woman in male-dominated industries, and why volunteering is so important and what you can do to help organizations such as Metro Volunteer Lawyers and the Legal Aid Foundation.
There are a lot of misconceptions, particularly among young lawyers and law students, around what mentorship is and isn’t. Mentorship doesn’t have to be formal or exclusive or just a status symbol for sycophants. Mentorship is a means to help build a better you both professionally and personally.
In smaller communities where there are fewer lawyers and fewer opportunities to network, finding mentors is especially important. Today Kevin Cheney speaks with two all-stars from Grand Junction, Judge Lance Timbreza and attorney Lauren O’Dell, who offer practical advice on the how, why, and when of mentorship.
A mentor doesn’t have to be older and wiser or have every answer. Seek out a variety of mentors with specific strengths. Even a peer or colleague who you can trust to tell you the truth could be considered a mentor. And finding a mentor can be as simple as “Hey, I saw you in court today. You were great. Can we grab a coffee sometime?”
Both Lauren and Judge Timbreza share their career journeys, the benefits of having diversity in your experiences, and emphasize the wealth of knowledge, connections, and assistance that can come from being involved in the Young Lawyers Division.
Colorado native, but child of the military who has lived all over the world, CBA President-Elect Joi Kush always knew that she wanted to be an attorney and represent those who need a voice. In 2014 she joined the CBA YLD Executive Council with the goal of bringing a greater Colorado perspective to the group. Law school may teach students how to think like a lawyer but often stops short of teaching students how to practice law. That’s where Joi says the CBA continued her education and helped her become a better attorney. Hear about her journey from study abroad to JAG training to finding her path to family law and how the “big bar” (CBA) helped her get to where she is today. Joi also describes the ins and outs of how the CBA works and the value of being a member.
Today we are thrilled to have a member of the Colorado Supreme Court, Justice Carlos Samour. Before being appointed by Governor Hickenlooper in 2018, Justice Samour was a judge in the 18th Judicial District. For eleven and a half years during his tenure as District Court Judge, Justice Samore presided over criminal, civil, domestic relations, juvenile delinquency, and dependency and neglect cases. Before his appointment to the District Court bench, Justice Samour worked as a prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney's Office for approximately ten years. Prior to becoming a prosecutor he worked in a civil practice for about five years at Holland & Hart LLP and his first job out of law school was a one year clerkship with the Honorable Robert McWilliams in the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit.