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].
For this second week’s edition of 5Q, we spoke with Mary (Mindy) Sooter, the partner-in-charge at WilmerHale’s Denver office. Sooter, a commercial litigator who has a speciality in patent and trade secret disputes, was an engineer before she became a lawyer. Sooter was among Law Week Colorado’s Top Women in 2017 and 2020 and on our Top Litigator list in 2018. She has four times been named a Colorado Super Lawyer for intellectual property litigation.
Do you see alternative courts, such as those used by some jurisdictions in the state’s criminal justice system, as being a promising innovation?
A: I strongly believe in the benefits of a specialized Drug Court. The problems associated with addiction are pervasive and complicated, but often not adequately treated through prison sentences. Many defendants would benefit from a specialized program to help address addiction, and achieve long-term sobriety. If I could make one legal service more accessible for more people, I would expand this program throughout the state and the nation.
Is alternative dispute resolution an effective method for helping litigants in all types of cases achieve a fair outcome?
A: I do believe that ADR can be an effective method of helping litigants in all types of cases, although I believe it should be optional. Arbitration and mediation can provide a lower cost and more expeditious path to resolution. The thing that the courts provide, and that mediation often does not, is the ability to appeal. I think that providing a route to at least one appellate level, even if through a neutral panel of three experienced mediators, would be a good addition to the ADR process.
You are given all-expenses, one-month paid vacation somewhere in Africa, but you have to spend it in only one nation on that continent. Where will you go?
A: There are so many places that I’ve always wanted to visit in Africa, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one nation! But if I had a month to spend in one country, I think I would spend it in Kenya. There are a wealth of national parks, six UNESCO sites, wonderful food, and welcoming people. I would love to get immersed in the culture for a full month, while traveling around the country and enjoying the people, their parks, and their country.
Which celebrity was on the posters you had hanging on your teenage bedroom wall?
A: When I was a teenager, I loved Robin Williams, Van Halen, and Bruce Springsteen (so that reveals my age!). And they have all stood the test of time, so if I had posters of them now, I would gladly hang them up to this day!
What is your favorite restaurant on the Front Range – the one where you’re always glad to sit down?
A: This is the easiest question! I love spending Friday evenings with my husband – and any of my kids who are in town – at Under the Sun Eatery in South Boulder. This is a wonderfully relaxed family restaurant, pizzeria, and brewhouse. We know the waitstaff, and regularly run into our neighbors there. I look forward to relaxing at the end of a long week there!