John T. Lee was honored last night with the 2022 Richard Marden Davis Award at a dinner in his honor. The award recognizes his outstanding service to the legal community, along with his civic and charitable leadership.
The Davis Award is presented annually by Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, the Denver Bar Association, and the Davis family “to a Denver lawyer who is 40 years old or younger and combines excellence as a lawyer with civic, cultural, educational, and charitable leadership.” DGS and the DBA created this award in memory of Richard Marden Davis, one of the firm’s founders, who devoted himself tirelessly to the profession and the community. Each honoree “best exemplifies the character and promise of Richard Davis at that stage in his career.” Lee follows a long line of past winners who have continued to serve the Denver legal community.
“John’s achievements and brilliance extend far beyond his distinguished appellate advocacy,” said DGS Co-Managing Partner Chad Williams. “He is a deeply engaged civic leader whose dedication to serving the public has been the cornerstone of his legal career from the beginning. We are delighted to honor John with the Davis Award and wish him continued success in all his endeavors. We anticipate great things for him as his career continues to progress.”
Lee, who received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center, is a First Assistant Attorney General at the Colorado Department of Law in the Criminal Appeals Section, where he reviews all constitutional challenges of criminal statutes and municipal ordinances statewide. He has served as lead counsel in over 750 appeals and argued over 140 times before the Colorado Court of Appeals and Colorado Supreme Court. His notable success has resulted in 88 published criminal, constitutional, and civil law decisions, many of which encompass favorable results in the state’s highest-profile criminal cases. Previously a Senior Assistant Attorney General, he assisted cross-sectionally with a broad range of labor and employment, civil litigation, and education-related matters. During his tenure at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in Denver, he received four Colorado Attorney General Awards of Exceptional Performance, and he most recently shared the inaugural Champion of Diversity Award with his DEI co-chairs. Lee’s achievements and potential have not gone unnoticed outside his office. He has been honored by the Asian Pacific American Bar Association with its Governor Ralph Carr Award for outstanding public service.
Throughout his career, Lee has become increasingly involved in DBA and CBA leadership, including the Diversity on the Bench Coalition, which seeks to make the judiciary more reflective of Colorado’s population. In 2020, Lee spoke at “A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Legal Profession, Justice Goodwin Liu and Leading Asian American Lawyers,” a symposium discussing the difficulties Asian lawyers face in the legal profession, illuminating the need to address inequities and better open doors for all historically underrepresented groups. Currently, Lee co-chairs the Colorado Attorney General Office’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Impact Team, where he helps lead 80-plus team members, including several working groups, all dedicated to changing the structures and policies to make the office a safe and welcoming place for everyone to work.
Lee has leveraged his abilities as a charismatic lawyer and altruistic leader to benefit the legal and broader communities. He has been involved in multiple bar committees, including the CBA/DBA/CBA-CLE Joint Management Committee and the Waterman Fund for attorneys experiencing financial hardship due to age. Lee is also devoted to education and mentorship. He acts as the vice president and president-elect for CBA-CLE, often serves as a guest lecturer on ethics in public service at CU Law School, and coached a moot court team participating in a national moot court competition. Lee also fulfills duties on the Georgetown Law Interview Committee as an alumni interviewer for the law school and completed a term on the CBA Board of Governors, a position appointed by the DBA.
Lee uses his creativity to enhance his leadership. His extensive volunteerism has shown his commitment to enriching Denver and Greater Colorado communities. He is a longtime member of the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, where he serves on the board of trustees. Lee recently piloted a partnership between the Arts Center with the DBA, CBA, and CBA-CLE, in which those offices house a curated collection from the Arts Center, sharing Pueblo’s vibrant art and culture and building lasting connections among Pueblo leaders and the bar associations.
“Reaching this level of appellate service before age 40 while maintaining dynamic community involvement is exceptional,” said DGS partner and Davis Award Committee member Chris Richardson. “As residents of Colorado, we are all beneficiaries of John’s efforts and commitment, and we are so pleased that he was selected to receive the Davis Award.”