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May 04, 2010 - Colorado Lawyers Committee Honors Stars of Community Service

What: The 2010 Annual Luncheon of the Colorado Lawyers Committee

Where: Marriott City Center

When: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Time: 11:30 a.m.

Beneficiary: Colorado Lawyers Committee

Host(s): Kenzo S. Kawanabe, CLC Board Chair

Honoree(s): John Walsh for Outstanding Sustained Contribution, Law Firm of the Year: Morrison & Foerster, Task Force of the Year: Homeless ID Task Force, Community Contribution award: Kathleen J. Gebhardt and Alexander Halpern

Executive Director: Connie Talmage

Staff: Connie Talmage, Nora Earnest and Linda Futrell

Speaker: Harry N. MacLean

Catering: Marriott Denver City Center

Of note: Recognition of Immediate Past Board Chair, Craig Stewart from Holland and Hart

Attendance: 500

Attire: Business

Special Thanks: To the over 600 volunteers

Donors: IKON Office Solutions

Board of Directors: Kenzo S. Kawanabe, Board Chair (Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP), Nancy B. Elkind, Secretary/Treasurer (Elkind Alterman Harston PC); see for a complete list.

Blacktie Photos by: Marcelo Mainzer

 John Walsh of Hill & Robbins, P.C. receives the Colorado Lawyers Committee Outstanding Sustained Contribution Award
John Walsh of Hill & Robbins, P.C. receives the Colorado Lawyers Committee Outstanding Sustained Contribution Award

"America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered."
--Louis D. Brandeis
For over 30 years the Colorado Lawyers Committee has lived up to the highest ideals of the American judicial system, that the law is there to protect and advocate for disadvantaged people and communities.

Utilizing task forces made up of the best of the best in the Colorado legal community, the CLC has addressed such issues as election access, hate violence, the rights of the homeless and the health and safety of children in a multitude of ways. 

The list of volunteers in 2009 alone was more than 600, and probably tens of thousands since the Committee's inception. Each year a luncheon is held to honor those individuals and groups who work for a more just Colorado and stand out even among the astounding work of their peers, and this year's nominees and winners were no exception.

Emcee Kenzo Kawanabe voiced his gratitude to all the volunteers who give of their time and resources to the many events and task forces organized by the Lawyers Committee. He went on to recognize the many state and local public officials, judges and educators on hand, as well as executive directors from a myriad of nonprofits who work with the Lawyers Committee. Mr. Kawanabe voiced the mission of the CLC, which is: "A nonprofit consortium of Colorado law firms that do high-impact pro bono work and are dedicated to using all the skills and discipline of law in the service of others."   

The recipients of the Community Contribution Award were Kathleen Gebhardt and Alexander Halpern, whose leadership on the case of Lobato v. State of Colorado was a ground-breaking case for educational funding. 

The nominees for Task Force of the Year were the Legal Night Steering Committee, the Nonprofit Working Group Committee, the Public Benefits Investigators Task Force and the Homeless ID Task Force Steering Committee.

In what must have been a very difficult decision, the Homeless ID Task Force Steering, which worked to remove barriers to the indigent in obtaining state issued identification cards and thereby qualify for benefits including housing and employment, was named as the recipient of the 2009 Task Force of the Year Award. 

There were four outstanding nominees for Law Firm of the Year:  Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Reilly Pozner LLP and Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.  All firms donated hundreds of hours to Colorado Lawyers Committee projects during 2009.  The recipient of the 2009 Law Firm of the Year Award was Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Bob Hill, co-founder of Hill & Robbins, P.C. rose to the stage to introduce John Walsh, his colleague and friend, and the 2009 Colorado Lawyers Committee Outstanding Sustained Contribution award winner. Mr. Hill both congratulated his friend and listed some of his accomplishments: graduating magna cum laude from Williams College and prosecuting major criminal securities fraud cases in Los Angeles.

After returning to Denver Mr. Walsh chaired the Board of Directors of Invest in Kids. He has earned the award and respect of the entire Colorado Lawyers Committee community by making a significant difference in the lives of children and the underprivileged. 

After a short film, produced by the CLC in cooperation with Martindale-Hubbell and Law Week Colorado, with interviews of John's friends and colleagues, the award winner himself rose to address attendees. Mr. Walsh gave thanks to the CLC, its staff and all the lawyers who make up the organization. He also said, " my heartfelt thanks go out to my family, my kids and particularly my wife Lisa Christian who seems to know that I just can't help myself but be involved in this kind of work."

John Walsh quoted Louis Brandeis: "There is in most Americans some spark of idealism, which can be fanned into a flame. It takes sometimes a divining rod to find what it is; but when found, and that means often, when disclosed to the owners, the results are often extraordinary." 

Lawyer Walsh finished by relating some of the causes the CLC has championed--the state foster care system, capital construction in rural schools, sentencing reform and helping to combat consumer fraud against the disadvantaged. He urged those present to take advantage of what the Lawyers Committee has to offer: "the chance to put your own idealism to practical, constructive use for the people of Colorado". John Walsh received a much deserved standing ovation. 

The final words of the luncheon were from keynote speaker, attorney and author Harry MacLean. Mr. MacLean related some of the content of his latest book "The Past is Never Dead," the story of the trial James Ford Seale for the 1964 slaying of two black teenagers. 

When the luncheon ended those involved with the Colorado Lawyers Committee were reaffirmed in their choice of vocation, advocating for those who have little or no voice and championing causes that serve the people of Colorado. Perhaps those who had not lent their efforts to the CLC yet made the resolve to do so in the future.

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