Top Women Lawyers Note Progress in Legal Profession

But there’s still room for improvement when it comes to gender equality, according to leading lawyers

Super Lawyers’ Top 50 Women is a who’s who of the best female attorneys in Colorado, and many of the names will be familiar to readers who have followed the list in past years. The honorees represent dozens of firms and practice areas, but despite their varied backgrounds, they mostly agreed that women have made great strides in the profession. 

“There’s just a really cool generational shift happening right now,” said Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell partner Katie Reilly, who made the Super Lawyers Top 50 Women list for the third consecutive year.

The changes include more women serving as law firm managing partners and on management committees, which, she said, is a “night and day” difference from when she moved to Denver 15 years ago. There are also more women in leadership roles in government and nonprofits, she added. 

“It’s really across the board throughout the entire legal community, as far as I can tell, which I find very, very exciting,” said Reilly, who represents clients in complex commercial litigation, including antitrust and class action cases.

She said there has also been a shift in how litigation is handled. “The younger generations coming up… they do things differently,” Reilly said. “It’s more collaborative and collegial. And in my view, women have a lot to do with that. They’re leading a lot of that change.”

Miko Brown, partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs, has also made multiple appearances on the list. While women have come a long way in the profession, she said, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve equality.

“I’d like to see clients and judges continue to encourage senior attorneys to provide opportunities to our next generation of women lawyers. When these influential people speak up, change happens and essential opportunities arise,” said Brown.

Brown said 2019 was a “monumental” year for her practice, and the “pinnacle” was when her team secured a jury verdict in a copyright infringement case. “Prior to 2019, I was known almost exclusively for my personal injury defense work,” she said. “That reputation changed last year as I evolved into a more well-rounded trial lawyer.”

Other highlights from last year include seeing her mentorship to associates pay off. Two female associates Brown has championed at DGS made partner, and she was able to give significant roles to women and diverse associates when leading two trial teams in 2019.

“My ‘why’ in life is to promote women and minorities and give them opportunities to reach their goals,” Brown said. “So these events reminded me that the hard work is worth it and I need to stay the course, even on the days when I feel like giving up.”

Mentorship has also played a key role in Valerie Garcia’s career. The Hall & Evans member was recognized in this year’s Top 50 Women and Top 100 Lawyers lists. 

“I feel very fortunate to have had strong mentors and role models at every stage of my career. Some mentors served as trusted counselors providing active coaching and feedback. Others led by example. I am grateful for all of them,” said Garcia, a trial attorney whose practice includes construction litigation, environmental, natural resources and toxic tort law as well as products and professional liability. 

“I have also learned a lot from the folks that I’ve mentored,” she said. “The most rewarding mentoring experience in my career was to watch my former legal assistant, who became a mom at a very young age, work her way through undergrad and law school.” 

Today, the former assistant is a “powerhouse personal injury attorney” with several offices in two states, according to Garcia. “It is exciting to watch her become a community leader and mentor young lawyers as she builds her own firm.”  

Five Holland & Hart attorneys made the Top 50 Women list, more than any other firm in Colorado. 

“Holland & Hart has been at the forefront in terms of fostering an environment in which women can truly succeed, and that is evidenced by our strong showing on this list,” said managing partner Lucy Stark.

“When I started practicing, I often found myself as the only woman in the room.  It is quite a dramatic change to see that is rarely the case any longer,” she said. “I’m delighted at the progress our profession has made and looking forward to helping the next generation succeed.”

According to Holly Stein Sollod, practitioners in securities litigation and white-collar defense are still predominantly male. The securities and commercial litigation and arbitration partner at Holland & Hart said she’s working to train the next generation and increase the ranks of women in the practice area.

Sollod, who has more than 32 years of experience, said her securities litigation group’s major achievements from the past year included the dismissals of three security class actions upheld in the 10th Circuit. 

“Plaintiffs’ law firms continue to file securities cases at a record pace whenever the stock price of a publicly traded company drops,” she said. “We continue to be successful in challenging frivolous lawsuits at the initial stage on Motions to Dismiss.”

Jane Michaels, of counsel at Holland & Hart, is no stranger to the Top 50 Women list. In fact, she’s been on Super Lawyers lists recognizing Colorado’s top women lawyers for 15 years. She’s also proud to have been selected for another honor this year — Lawdragon’s 2020 Hall of Fame — along with 40 other attorneys and judges recognized as “Leading Lawyers in America.”

In recent years, Michaels has focused her practice on arbitration and mediation in commercial and intellectual property cases. Businesses are increasingly choosing to use arbitration and mediation to resolve their disputes, and there has been an “exponential” increase in online mediations, according to Michaels. “More clients are eager to select experienced arbitrators to decide their disputes in an economical, fair, and expeditious proceeding, rather than wait years for a final decision in court,” she said.

While she noted that there are “far more women attorneys in Colorado now than when I started practicing law,” and women have proved to be effective leaders in firms, corporations and other organizations, “there are still many obstacles to overcome and barriers to break through.”

Holland & Hart commercial litigation partner Maureen Witt also made the cut for the Top 50 Women list, a recognition she calls a “tremendous honor,” especially given the fierce competition in Colorado. 

“It inspires you to become an even better attorney and advocate, to represent your female colleagues in the profession to the very best of your ability at all times and to mentor other women attorneys to the greatest extent possible,” said Witt, whose other achievements in the past year include induction into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

“More women than ever are choosing to be trial lawyers, but we still need to see more women serve as first chair in major trials throughout the country,” Witt said.

Attorneys at smaller firms also had a strong showing on the Top 50 Women’s list. About half of the women who received the distinction hail from firms with 10 or fewer attorneys. 

Amy Miletich, shareholder at Miletich PC, said that having her own firm “definitely has its challenges, but it’s wonderful to have control over your working environment.”

Miletich, whose practice focuses on employment and insurance law, said her proudest recent accomplishments have been her activities and service to various bar organizations. In the past year, she has served on the boards of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel and the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence.

“I think it’s a great time for women in the law. The virtues of diversity are being recognized and women are being promoted and acknowledged in-house and as outside counsel,” Miletich said. “And I have been blessed with the friendship and support of many female attorneys in every aspect of the practice.” 

—Jessica Folker

Previous articleRising Stars Useful as a Marketing Tool for Young Attorneys
Next articleChanges to Litigation From 100-Year Virus Still Unfolding


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here