New Appointments to Federal Court, End of Year Hires

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Law Firm Updates

Hall Estill, a regional firm with offices in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado, announced Dec. 19 its Denver office hired transactional attorney and litigator Blair Will. Will, a University of San Diego School of Law graduate, works with real estate development clients on a range of matters and represents clients in other areas including tribal-law matters, ocean-shipping and marine registry and offshore organization. He joins the firm’s Denver office as of counsel. 

International firm Crowell & Moring announced Dec. 20 that Sam Edwards joined the firm’s corporate group as a partner and will be based out of its Denver office. Edwards, a University of Virginia School of Law graduate, brings extensive experience in corporate and securities law with an emphasis on emerging technology and clean energy. The firm hopes Edwards will strengthen its Colorado presence and expand its emerging companies and venture capital capabilities. Edwards’ practice includes working with clients in merger and acquisition deals and representing companies in new and emerging regulatory spaces like energy, infrastructure and decarbonization energy transitions. 

On Dec. 20, national firm Clark Hill announced attorney Claire Wells Hanson was selected for the firm’s 2023 new member class. Wells Hanson has been with the firm since 2021 as senior counsel where she leads the firm’s cannabis litigation team. She was one of 17 Clark Hill attorneys nationwide elevated to member, effective Jan. 1, 2023. 

National firm Dinsmore & Shohl LLP announced Dec. 20 that Lance Shurtleff joined its Denver office as a partner. The University of Wyoming College of Law graduate will focus on construction law matters including torts, professional liability defense for architects and engineers and trucking industry torts. 

The Judiciary 

On Dec. 19, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado announced two new U.S. magistrate judges — Susan Prose and Kathryn Starnella. Prose, an assistant U.S. attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office’s civil division, will fill a vacancy created by the July appointment of former magistrate Nina Wang as an Article III judge on U.S. District Court. Starnella, an attorney with the Colorado Attorney General Office’s cross-unit litigation department and the Colorado Women’s Bar Association’s 2022-23 president, will fill an upcoming vacancy created by the expected retirement of Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix on or around Aug. 5, 2023. The appointments are subject to background investigations. Prose and Starnella were selected by judges from the federal court out of a pool of six candidates recommended by a court-appointed magistrate judge selection panel.  

The Colorado Judicial Branch on Dec. 21 announced an upcoming vacancy on the 5th Judicial District Court covering Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties created by the retirement of Judge Mark Thompson on Jan. 14, 2023. A seminar with virtual and in-person attendance options will be hosted on Jan. 4, 2023, for those interested in learning more about the position. Applications are due Jan. 9, 2023, for consideration. Earlier this year, Thompson pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he was accused of brandishing a gun at his stepson in 2021. Attorneys accused Thompson of verbally berating them in court days after he completed a 30-day unpaid suspension, according to the Denver Gazette.  

On Dec. 21, the 6th Judicial District Nominating Commission announced three finalists for an upcoming vacancy on the district court covering Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan counties. The opening will be created by the Jan. 14, 2023 resignation of Judge Todd Norvell. The finalists are Anthony Baca of Dolores, Anthony Edwards of Silverton and Justin Fay of Pagosa Springs. Under the state constitution, the governor must appoint the position by Jan. 5, 2023. 

Gov. Jared Polis on Dec. 21 announced appointments to commissions and boards across the state including eight judicial nominating commissions. The 10 new nominating commission member terms are effective Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2028. 

  • Helen Raleigh of Littleton was appointed to the 1st Judicial Nominating Commission. Raleigh will serve as a non-attorney, a Republican and a resident of Jefferson County.
  • Kiel Brunner of Denver was appointed to the 2nd Judicial Nominating Commission. Brunner will serve as a non-attorney, a Democrat and a resident of Denver County.
  • Chris McDowell of Carbondale was appointed to the 9th Judicial Nominating Commission. McDowell will serve as a non-attorney, an unaffiliated voter and a resident of Garfield County.
  • Albert Singleton of Pueblo was appointed to the 10th Judicial Nominating Commission. Singleton will serve as an attorney, an unaffiliated voter and a resident of Pueblo County.
  • Debra Adams of Westcliffe was appointed to the 11th Judicial Nominating Commission. Westcliffe will serve as a non-attorney, an unaffiliated voter and a resident of Custer County.
  • Casey Quillen of Steamboat Springs was appointed to the 14th Judicial Nominating Commission. Quillen will serve as an attorney, an unaffiliated voter and a member from Routt County.
  • Staci Nichols of Craig was appointed to the 14th Judicial Nominating Commission. Nichols will serve as a non-attorney, a Republican and a member from Moffat County.
  • Tracie Keesee of Elizabeth was appointed to the 18th Judicial Nominating Commission. Keesee will serve as a non-attorney, an unaffiliated voter and a member from Elbert County.
  • Becky Hogan of Aurora, was appointed to the 18th Judicial Nominating Commission. Hogan will serve as a non-attorney, a Republican and a member from Arapahoe County.
  • Bryson McCabe of Dolores was appointed to the 22nd Judicial Nominating Commission. McCabe will serve as an attorney, an unaffiliated voter and a member from Montezuma County.


Regional firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck announced Dec. 22 that attorney Nicole Ament was appointed to the board of directors for Denver Civic Ventures Downtown Denver Partnership’s charitable, public purpose board. On the board, Ament will help the organization focus on community planning and development, provide educational forums and help fundraise. Ament is the chair of Brownstein’s real estate department. 

Odds and Ends 

On Dec. 21, Gov. Polis announced Brittany Kauffman was reappointed to the Colorado Access to Justice Commission which looks to improve Colorado’s civil justice system. Kauffman was reappointed as the governor’s appointee for a term ending Dec. 31, 2025. 

The Center for Legal Inclusiveness, a Denver-based nonprofit that hopes to advance diversity in the field of law, announced it hired a new executive director, Robin Reese. Reese will assume the position Jan. 9, 2023, and brings experience working with nonprofits and DEI initiatives. 

Correction note: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated Ed Hopkins joined Clark Hill as a cybersecurity partner; it was updated Jan. 18 to reflect Clark Hill’s Dec. 20, 2022, announcement only included information about Wells Hanson and the firm’s 2023 new member class. Law Week regrets the error.

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