Colorado’s ‘Rising Stars’ Share Wins, Views of the Future

The verdict is in for the Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers list for 2024, and the ruling is in favor of a number of up and coming lawyers in Colorado. Over 60 lawyers in the state were awarded the Rising Stars designation, according to information shared with Law Week. 

Attorneys from firms covering a variety of practice areas shared via email to Law Week how it felt to be recognized, shared some of their biggest wins in the year and offered their thoughts on what issues may pop up in the near future of their practice areas. 

What it Means to be Recognized 

Morgan Paterson, an associate at Epstein Patierno, summed up the feeling for many of the lawyers recognized as Rising Stars. “It is an honor and humbling to be well recognized by your peers,” said Paterson. 

Austin Gemmell, a new partner at Messner Reeves, told Law Week he was thankful to be included on the list and has been inspired to “pay it forward.” “It felt great to learn I was on this list, and I want to do more for other attorneys like me – trying to succeed in their careers,” said Gemmell. 

Several attorneys also praised their colleagues for their work and mentoring that led to their recognition as Rising Stars. 

“This recognition speaks volumes about the great attorneys I’ve had the privilege of working alongside and learning from,” wrote Michael Annerino, an associate and member of the litigation practice group at Fortis Law Partners. “I am fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who take great pride in their work, hold themselves to an incredibly high standard, and push me to continually improve as an attorney.” 

“Being recognized as a Rising Star once again is a source of immense pride and validation for me and my team of legal professionals,” said Greg Corbin, partner at Werge & Corbin Law Group. “This honor not only acknowledges my own accomplishments, but also reflects the commitment and support of the attorneys and paraprofessionals at Werge & Corbin who have undoubtedly contributed to our success.” 

A Year Full of Wins for the Rising Stars 

Rising Stars are recognized for their excellent work, and they had a lot of wins to share. From the use of technology in novel ways to successfully representing clients in significant litigation, the victories of the Rising Stars were across the board. 

Allison Derschang, an associate at BAM Family Law told Law Week she had a huge win in a case where her client was the victim of fraud. 

“The litigation was long and hard but the orders in the end, including an award of attorney fees, were the kind of orders lawyers dream about,” said Derschang. “But even more, the way the win impacted my client is something I will never forget. Cases like that make the late nights and stress so very worth it.” 

David Meschke, a shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, also shared a litigation related success. Meschke successfully argued a high-profile 2020 election case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and won on more grounds there than at the district court level. 

Some of Gemmell’s favorite moments have come from his work with smaller clients. “For me, it’s an incredible feeling to help a family-owned restaurant open its first location or be a part of a small local chain’s well-earned reputation,” said Gemmell. 

Three attorneys from Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, partners Ryan Cooke and Brian Osterman and associate Jennifer Oxley told Law Week about three significant wins for their clients. Cooke was second-chair on a commercial trial where his team won a nine-figure jury verdict. Osterman won a $33 million medical malpractice jury trial as first-chair counsel in his first time in that role. Oxley was second-chair in a breach-of-contract trial related to a cyberattack, where her client prevailed. She added that cross-examining the defendant’s liability expert was one of the highlights for her. 

For Annerino, the trial experience he’s gained over the past year has been invaluable. He said the wins and high points in court have contributed to his growth as a litigator. 

“Each case I have worked on over the past year has presented its unique challenges and learning opportunities, helping me gain experience and confidence as a litigator,” said Annerino. “These experiences, coupled with the support of my colleagues, have been instrumental in my professional development.” 

Justin Miller, a member of Caplan & Earnest’s health care and litigation practice groups, said a recent victory that involved the use of technology has changed the way he evaluates and approaches a case when it first comes to him. 

“We recently leveraged technology in some pretty creative ways to help steer a case toward a quick and cost-efficient resolution,” said Miller. “Opportunities like this one, where we are afforded the chance to think outside the box and approach a problem creatively and strategically – are especially rewarding when they prove fruitful.” 

Paterson also had a high moment in the past year with a significant victory for one of her clients. 

“We were able to return two children to their mother in Texas after their father refused to return them at the end of his summer parenting time,” said Paterson. 

Sometimes the high point of the year is well-earned time off. Mike Dill, a corporate and emerging companies partner at Holland & Hart, said his first sabbatical was a high point of his year. 

“After spending three months with my family and friends, getting some downtime and just operating at a slower pace, I came back rejuvenated and ready to practice again,” said Dill. 

What’s on the Horizon 

Several of this year’s Rising Stars  told Law Week about the trends they were watching in their practice area and what they were looking forward to in the year to come. 

In family law, Derschang said the passage of Kayden’s Law has led to a concerted effort to educate courts on the effects of domestic violence on both the victim and the children. 

“There is still a long way to go in educating everyone involved in domestic relations cases, from lawyers to judges to experts, but Kayden’s Law is an important first step,” said Derschang. “I look forward to seeing the impacts of this greater awareness of the impacts of domestic violence in the future.” 

On the financial side of family law, Madeleine Sheahan Rosengrants, an associate at Sherman & Howard, noted the increasing complexity of financial portfolios and family structures. 

“Our clients need family law practitioners who are experienced with complex asset and investment holdings, the intersection of estate planning, and blended family needs,” said Sheahan Rosengrants. 

For litigators, there were a couple things to watch for in the coming year. First was the rising costs associated with litigation, a point raised by Annerino. 

“As litigation becomes increasingly complex and resource-intensive, the financial burden on clients continues to grow,” said Annerino. “This trend poses challenges for individuals and businesses seeking high-quality representation at a fair cost.”

Second was the recent legislative effort to raise damage caps for certain litigation. Miller said the legislature has been particularly active in his area of practice over the past few years.

“Lawmakers have created new private causes of action, reconsidered damages caps, and passed many other measures which affect the interests of my clients,” said Miller. “I’m looking forward to navigating this new terrain, counseling my clients, and preparing them for what I imagine will be a busier time for all civil litigators in and outside the courtroom.” 

Corbin also noted that as new regulations begin to affect small businesses and nonprofits, he expects his firm to continue its growth. 

“Between new Colorado and Federal regulations, like the Corporate Transparency Act and the FTC’s rule banning post-employment non-competition agreements, small businesses and non-profits need for high-quality, efficient legal advice will continue to grow,” said Corbin. 

Gemmell, whose practice supports entrepreneurs looking to introduce new restaurants, bars and hotels into the Colorado community, sees a high demand for new restaurants and related concepts to serve Colorado’s growing population. 

“We need new, diverse food concepts and experiences to support such growth,” said Gemmell. “Restaurants and gathering spaces are a big part of our social ecosystem because they build a better sense of community among our residents.” 

Gemmell added the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were still being felt in Colorado, especially in rural and mountain towns. He hopes new ideas and concepts reach those areas in the coming year. 

The growth of technology and artificial intelligence is also on the mind of attorneys. 

“We’re starting to utilize artificial intelligence in our legal practice, and I think that’s going to be a bigger part of our practice over the longer term,” said Dill. 

And for Miller, viewing the horizon from abroad and from higher elevations is one of the things he’s looking forward to. 

“I’m looking forward to visiting Japan in February 2025 for an extended ski trip in the Hokkaido region,” said Miller. “I have several backpacking trips planned for this summer which I’m looking forward to as well. Trying to summit all Colorado’s Fourteeners!” 

Rising Stars Honorees 

Over 30 firms shared their Rising Stars honorees with Law Week. Other attorneys on the list of Rising Stars for 2024 include: 

Kathryn DeVries, Ryan Shaffer and Hannah Taylor at Sherman & Howard; Hannah Armentrout, Paige Corriden, Amanda Houseal, Christopher Jackson, Stuart Knight, Randy Roeser, Jessica Smith and Paul Swanson at Holland & Hart; William Hauptman, Kevin Homiak, Emily Linehan, Shawn Neal, Tommy Olsen, Jacob Rey, Melissa Romero and John Sandberg at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell; Abby Harder, Elizabeth Michaels and Angela Vichick at Lewis Roca; Amanda Huston and Matthew Chudacoff at CP2; Chris Carry at Crisham & Holman; David Meschke, Chloe Mickel, Amalia Sax-Bolder and Kevin Walsh at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; Courtney Allen, Wendy Smock and Lauren Gempel at Epstein Patierno; Will Healy and Chelsie Smith at Wells Anderson & Race; Quinn Girrens, Amanda Pfeil Hood, Amy Rogers and Kylie Schmidt at Ogborn Mihm; Nicholas Labor and Sam John at Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio; Brad Levin, Jeremy Sitcoff, Susan Minamizono, Nelson Waneka and Robyn Levin at Levin Sitcoff Waneka; Adam Royval, Allison Dodd, Kate Bailey and Matt George at Messner Reeves; Jennifer Tiedeken at Davis & Ceriani PC; Jennifer Perry and Shanelle Kindel at Ridley McGreevy & Winocur; and Lindsey Dunn and Roderick O’Dorisio at Perkins Coie.

Correction note: this article was updated May 22 with the correct spelling of William Hauptman’s name. Law Week regrets the error. 

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