The Colorado Lawyers Committee on Oct. 21 held its annual awards luncheon to recognize people and organizations for their contributions to the nonprofit, which is dedicated to helping children, the poor and other disadvantaged communities through pro bono legal advocacy. The event was held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.
Peter Schwartz, a partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs, received the Outstanding Sustained Contribution Award for his two decades of leadership and support for CLC’s work. His contributions to the organization include more than 15 years of service on the Steering Committee of Project Homeless Connect, where he helps staff a legal resource area that provides legal information and referrals to homeless people.
In 2006, Schwartz started the Nonprofit Working Group, which finds lawyers to assist small nonprofits, and for more than a decade, he led the Steering Committee of the Nonprofit Legal Audit Clinic, which provides attorneys who evaluate the legal health of nonprofits. According to the CLC, these two programs have engaged more than 1,000 volunteers over the years and assisted 750 nonprofits.
Schwartz also chairs the United Business Advisory, which helps small businesses, and has been an “integral part” of the Colorado COVID Legal Relief Program, which has provided legal assistance to more than 250 small businesses affected by the pandemic, according to the CLC. Schwartz has served on the CLC’s board of directors since 2006 and served as board chair from 2018 to 2020.
The Team of the Year Award went to the Hate Crimes National Steering Committee. The CLC received a grant in 2019 from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to modify its Hate Crimes Education program, which CLC volunteers have presented in Colorado schools for nearly 30 years, so it can be presented in schools around the country. The team revised the curriculum and created resources for schools, including guides for teachers, volunteers and administrators. The program can be attended in-person or virtually.
The team includes Elizabeth Froehlke of Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti, Beth Ann Lennon of Sherman & Howard, John McHugh of Fennemore, Tarek Saad of Crowell & Moring, Christine Snider of Ballard Spahr, Valeria Spencer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, Phyllis Wan of Holland & Hart and Mark Wilding of Fortis Law Partners.
Also nominated for the Team of the Year Award were the Immigration Task Force – Probation Disclosure Subcommittee, the Preparing Asylum Seekers for Success Pilot Program and the Young Lawyers Division CLE Series Planning Committee.
The Harris Law Firm won the Law Firm of the Year Award for its commitment to the CLC’s work. In 2019, 15 of the lawyers at the family law firm —75% of its attorneys — participated in eight different CLC projects. The firm’s attorneys served in leadership roles on the board of directors and Young Lawyers Division board and participated in the Children’s Task Force, Election Task Force, Education Task Force and Young Lawyers Division. Additionally, 13 attorneys from the firm consistently provided legal advice and referrals at Denver Legal Night, which serves low-income clients.
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, Polsinelli and Squire Patton Boggs were also nominated for the Law Firm of the Year Award.
The Pandemic Heroes Award went to the Colorado COVID Legal Relief Program Steering Committee and frequent volunteers for their work to help small businesses affected by COVID-19. The CLC partnered with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, the Denver Chamber of Commerce, WilmerHale, Davis Graham & Stubbs and Messner Reeves to launch a program to match small businesses with pro bono legal services. The program and volunteers from 116 firms provided legal assistance to more than 250 small businesses between June 2020 and July 2021.
The other nominees for the Pandemic Heroes Award were the Denver Legal Night Steering Committee and frequent volunteers, the Hate Crimes Education Task Force Steering Committee, the Immigration Habeas TRO Litigation Team and the YLD Lunches with Legends Steering Committee.
The CLC presented Special Recognition Awards to Michelle Berge, general counsel at Denver Public Schools, and Paul Hartmann of Hartmannphoto, LLC. Berge was recognized for nearly a decade of work as coordinator and administrator of the CLC’s Greeley Legal Night. Hartmann received the award for his contributions as the CLC’s pro bono photographer.