The Colorado Lawyers Committee is heading into 2023 under new leadership.
Last fall, longtime Executive Director Connie Talmage announced plans to step down after 22 years and on March 2, CLC announced her replacement. Taking over as executive director is former Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson with Kathleen McCrohan rejoining the organization as chief operating officer, a newly created role.
Together, Bronson and McCrohan will be responsible for overseeing the operation of CLC, including creating and strengthening partnerships, strategizing for future projects and ensuring its work meets the organization’s mission. McCrohan will take over as COO in April and Bronson as executive director in May.
“My interest in the Lawyers Committee goes way back. It’s a wonderful organization and, under Connie’s leadership, has just developed an incredible reputation, but also a really long track record of righting systemic wrongs,” said Bronson.
“Really just every single twist and turn of the job has been such a blessing for me. And we’ve had many twists and turns over the years,” said McCrohan. “Now I’m returning and I’m very excited in this new role as chief operating officer to really partner with Kristin and to grow the organization.”
Founded in 1978, CLC is a nonpartisan association of 70 Colorado law firms that look to impact public policy and spark systemic change to improve opportunities for disadvantaged and low-income communities and children. CLC does this with the help of volunteer attorneys through public policy advocacy and high-impact litigation.
Under Talmage’s leadership, the group has grown significantly. Talmage estimates that when she became executive director in 2000, CLC had between 20-30 partner firms, 100 volunteers and five to 10 projects. Since then, CLC’s footprint has grown. In 2022, CLC coordinated 930 volunteers to work on 29 projects and task forces totaling over 6,700 volunteer hours worth more than $3 million.
Some CLC projects include the bi-monthly Denver Legal Night, a legal clinic for low-income Coloradans; the Afghan Asylum Project, a 12-week project that wrapped up last year where volunteers helped 604 Afghan people relocated to Colorado complete asylum applications; the Hate Crimes Education Program, which educates Colorado students on the impact and laws surrounding hate crimes; and the Small Business Legal Assistance Project which offers legal support for Colorado small businesses.
Talmage said that when she decided to retire, she was apprehensive about filling leadership positions at CLC. But with Bronson and McCrohan at the helm, Talmage said she is looking forward to seeing the next phase of CLC.
“The combination of these two is so exciting for me. When you’ve been with an organization for 22 years and it’s time for you to go, you worry a lot because it’s your child,” said Talmage. “I’m not worried anymore.”
Bronson comes to CLC after serving as city attorney for the City and County of Denver from 2016 through 2022 where she oversaw more than 250 attorneys and staff with a $43 million budget. Prior to her appointment by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Bronson practiced commercial litigation at the Denver office of what’s now Lewis Roca. Bronson, a University of Colorado Law School Graduate, was one of Law Week Colorado’s Top Women in 2021.
McCrohan returns to CLC after a brief hiatus as the director of public interest advising at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. From 2016 through 2022, McCrohan was CLC’s associate director after a five-year run in private practice working on corporate compliance and civil litigation matters. She graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law with her J.D. and a master’s in legal administration.
McCrohan and Bronson say they plan to deepen CLC’s existing partnerships and hope to expand its impact outside of the Denver metro area.
“I think there is a really great opportunity in spreading the word outside of the metro area about the Lawyers Committee and the opportunity it offers to other lawyers or others in need who have identified a problem and identified a concern,” said Bronson. “[And allow them to] bring us those issues and give us a chance to triage that [and] potentially work on that as a new project.”
Bronson added that she plans to work with existing CLC partners to reinforce trust and confidence in the organization as it shifts leadership. “My focus will really be in supporting a lot of those relationships.”
McCrohan, who had been with CLC for six years, said she’s looking forward to growing the organization’s community partnerships and building on its existing relationships with law students and young lawyers.
“We really rely on them heavily for our clinics that we do and also the way that our organization is structured. So [we’re] just really rolling [into] those partnerships so that we can become a better organization as well,” said McCrohan.
Following the pandemic, Bronson added many people, including marginalized groups, have developed deep distrust of legal institutions and attorneys. And while that distrust presents some challenges, Bronson said she hopes CLC can meet it head-on.
“I’m really proud of the wonderful work that the Lawyers Committee has done around civil rights, immigration and access to justice. And those issues are as important as ever and will continue to be,” said Bronson. “So hopefully we’ll have some renewed vigilance with new leadership, new eyes and new thought around this, but really continuing the incredible work of the Lawyers Committee for the next 22 years.”
After two decades of heading CLC, Talmage will have some free time on her hands. “I think my first plan is just not to set my alarm for about two months. And then I’ll go back to doing some serious traveling, which I’ve always done, but have done less of during COVID,” said Talmage.