Jeff Sherman, Faegre Drinker Partner and Army JAG, Talks Federal Appeals Court Expansion, Learning from Armed Forces Lawyers, & Makes Super Bowl Prediction

Jeff Sherman

5Q is Law Week Colorado’s weekly gateway for members of the legal community to get acquainted with each other. Each week, you’ll hear from lawyers, judges, and legal academics across Colorado. We ask industry professionals a range of questions that may range from their thoughts on the challenges facing the profession to their personal interests. Their responses are lightly edited for clarity and space. Let us know if you’d like to be included by emailing [email protected].

This week we spoke with Jeff Sherman, a partner at Faegre Drinker in Denver and a corporate finance specialist. Sherman has been a U.S. Army Reserve officer since 2002. Now a lieutenant colonel, he is the staff judge advocate of the Wyoming Army National Guard. A three-time Super Lawyers honoree, he was chosen by the Denver Business Journal as one of its “Forty Under 40” in 2007 and was Law Week Colorado’s Lawyer of the Year for 2011. Sherman holds a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Question 1

Does the nation need more U.S. circuit courts of appeal? (At present, there are 13 – the eleven numbered circuits, plus the DC Circuit and the Federal Circuit.) Discuss.

A: It would be beneficial to have more U.S. Courts of Appeals and to increase the number of judges on each circuit court of appeals. Although the courts are not intended to be representative bodies, the tremendous disparity in populations and workloads among the circuits is suboptimal. For example, the 9th Circuit covers states with populations that are over three times the population living in the states covered by the 10th Circuit. This both overburdens circuits like the 9th Circuit and gives undue weight to their decisions because they impact more Americans.

Regardless of the number of the circuits, the number of judges should be increased, in a staggered manner over several presidential terms, to ensure that judges are not assigned caseloads that are too large and that opinions can be rendered as quickly as reasonably possible.

Question 2

What can judges in the federal and state courts and lawyers who litigate in them learn from the U.S. Armed Forces justice system?

A: The U.S. Armed Forces justice system offers some useful lessons for civilian judges and attorneys. The armed forces take training and mentoring extremely seriously. Military lawyers (Judge Advocates) who “rate” junior attorneys and paralegals are expected to ensure they are getting challenging working assignments and training opportunities that enable those junior attorneys and paralegals to enhance their expertise and capabilities. 

Similarly, one of the unique features of the military justice systems is the regular practice of “Bridging the Gap” during which the Military Judge will give candid feedback to both Trial Counsel (the prosecutor) and Defense Counsel and answer questions from those attorneys. This often helps accelerate the development of young attorneys’ litigation skills. Although training and mentoring can be time-consuming, it is critical for the health of our organizations and profession.

Question 3

What is the best brewpub or winery in Colorado?

A: I am a devotee of 4 Noses Brewing Company in Broomfield. Unlike many of my friends, I am not a connoisseur of super-bitter, extra-hoppy IPAs. Although 4 Noses has many of those IPAs, they also have a wide selection of lagers, porters, stouts, and sours for people like me.

Question 4

Name a children’s book that you, even now, remember reading. What made it memorable?

A: The Monster at the End of This Book was my favorite book as a child and I loved reading it to my kids 30 years later. Before Elmo arrived, Grover was the cutest Muppet on Sesame Street. He’s cuddly and on the same emotional wavelength as I was (and am). I loved his tribulations as he tried to avoid the monster at the end of book (only to discover that it’s him).

Question 5

The National Football League season will soon begin. Please make a realistic prediction of the likely Super Bowl opponents and briefly explain why you chose that team.

A: The Super Bowl will feature the Green Bay Packers vs. the Cleveland Browns. I am biased because my wife is from Wisconsin and I am from Cleveland. But, this is absolutely the year. Aaron Rodgers is at the end of his contract and wants to make clear that he is the greatest Packer ever. The Browns are stocked with talent on both sides of the ball. Baker Mayfield is poised for greatness. Go Browns!





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