Through the Colorado Supreme Court’s pro bono program, DGS has committed to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono and related legal community service per attorney each year. For example, in 2014, DGS lawyers accumulated more than 12,000 hours of this type of work, an average of more than 90 hours per attorney. Many of these attorneys represent clients who cannot afford legal services, and would otherwise not be able to access the judicial system.
For example, DGS is a founding member of the Colorado Lawyers Committee (CLC), a consortium of Colorado firms who work together to undertake significant pro bono cases. DGS has twice been named CLC Law Firm of the Year for its pro bono contributions. Some of this work has included a historic Colorado voting rights case that resulted in the re-drawing of legislative districts in the San Luis Valley to give Hispanic voters a stronger voice in the selection of their legislators. We also participated in a class-action lawsuit against state agencies and two Denver metro counties that successfully challenged a state welfare reform program that unlawfully cut off cash benefits to some welfare clients.
In another case, DGS attorneys successfully represented children, their families, and school districts in Lobato v. State of Colorado, during a five-week trial in District Court. The Lobato plaintiffs alleged that the State of Colorado was not providing the resources for a “thorough and uniform system” of public education as required by the Colorado Constitution. The case, which was originally filed in 2005 and has required thousands of hours of free legal services by more than 20 attorneys from eight law firms representing the plaintiffs, is one of the most important public education cases in the history of Colorado. After 180 depositions and 80 trial witnesses during the five-week trial in the fall of 2011, the trial court ruled that the public school finance system is unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court ultimately reversed that decision. Regardless, the case highlighted the lack of resources in the vast majority of our public schools and the Legislature reversed its history of spending cuts to actually increase monies for schools.
DGS has also partnered with the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, a unique nonprofit organization that has protected abused and neglected children for more than two decades. The RMCLC is devoted to the preservation of safe and healthy families, and to systemic reform and legal representation. More than 20 DGS lawyers provide pro bono legal services to RMCLC clients, and the firm provides both financial and training support to the organization to help it expand its reach in the community. Recognizing this exceptional effort, the Colorado Bar Association named one of its top annual pro bono awards after one of our former partners, Donald W. Hoagland.
DGS lawyers play an important role in Denver’s legal, business, civic, and cultural communities – both as individuals and as representatives of the firm. The firm, its lawyers, and its staff sponsor and participate in a wide variety of worthy events each year and are involved in leadership roles in legal professional organizations, law schools, leading charitable and civic organizations, governmental agencies, boards, and commissions.
A DGS partner was president of the Colorado Bar Association (CBA), two attorneys have served as presidents of the Denver Bar Association (DBA), and another served as chair of the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado. Partners and associates of the firm serve or have served as presidents or board members of many local specialty bar associations and numerous others participate in CBA and DBA practice specialty committees.
DGS lawyers also serve their profession and the community by teaching. One of our attorneys created the first courses in oil and gas and water law at the University of Colorado School of Law. In recognition of these and other contributions to his profession, he was named the school’s 1999 alumnus of the year. DGS attorneys have taught environmental, bankruptcy, antitrust, and tax law at local law and business schools, and many other DGS attorneys share what they’ve learned through specialized bar associations and continuing legal education programs.
Civic and cultural involvement is also a way of life at DGS. One of our attorneys was the President of the Denver Public School Board. Firm alumni include a former mayor of the City of Denver, a lieutenant governor of the State of Colorado, and Colorado’s deputy attorney general for natural resources and environment. One of our attorneys was appointed to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior for Water and Science by President George H.W. Bush, and another was named by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. One of our partners served as Deputy Solicitor for Energy and Mineral Resources at the U.S. Department of the Interior and another was the director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Former Supreme Court Justice Byron White was a DGS alumnus, as are two judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and justices on Colorado’s Supreme Court, Colorado’s Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.
DGS lawyers have headed the Mile High United Way, Rotary International, and the local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. DGS attorneys are serving or have served on the board of the Denver Art Museum, Denver Children’s Museum, Denver Public Library, Young Fund of Denver Children’s Hospital, National Western Stock Show Association, Metro Denver Sports Commission, Allied Jewish Federation, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado, KidsTek, the Colorado Business & Professional Women Education Foundation, and Colorado Children’s Campaign.
Other attorneys have been actively involved with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Family Futures, Food Bank of the Rockies, Urban Peak, Colorado Conservation Voters, Japan America Society of Colorado, Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Lutheran Family Services, Project PAVE, The Gathering Place, Family Star, Mile High Child Care Association, Safehouse for Battered Women, the Shaka Franklin Foundation for Youth, Volunteers of America, Water for People, and the Westernaires. DGS is also involved in the Colfax Marathon, which helps raise money for nearly 200 charity partners. DGS runners took first place in the 2014 Corporate Cup Legal Division in support of Mile High United Way and were featured in the governor’s Training Tips video.
DGS has also conducted an annual holiday toy drive over the last several years for children in the Denver Social Services network; our support of this program has ensured that every child in the program has received a gift during the annual holiday family visit. Since 2005 DGS has participated in the Arrupe Jesuit High School work-study program, sponsoring four students as part of their college-prep education and tuition savings program.
In 2015, DGS celebrated its 100th anniversary with the “Year of 100 Good Deeds” (Y100). In selecting 100 Good Deeds, DGS attorneys and staff first nominated potential projects in which they were involved. Then, the DGS Y100 Committee narrowed the nominations to 100 unique causes that the firm supported throughout the year with financial contributions, volunteer projects, and pro bono legal services.
Some of the notable Y100 contributions included the Mile High United Way (MHUW) and Colorado Legal Services. For MHUW, DGS has made a contribution to the organization’s new corporate headquarters in the historic Curtis Park neighborhood – contributing to MHUW’s mission of helping all children be ready for and then succeed in school, and enabling all individuals and families to become self-sufficient.
DGS’ commitment to Colorado Legal Services goes back to one of our former partners and founding member of the Legal Aid Society, Don Hoagland, who believed that pro bono work not only helped the community but made better lawyers. This Y100 contribution funded half of the cost of a new Case Management System (the Denver Bar Foundation funded the other half), in hopes that it will further carry on Mr. Hoagland’s vision and help streamline the process for those in need of legal services.