Mentors

Published in 2011 Colorado Super Lawyers — April 2011

Megan Sherr, of Sherr Puttmann Akins Lamb, on Gov. Bill Ritter Jr.

I worked in the DA’s office from April 2000 until December of 2003. So almost four years. Bill was the DA the entire time I was there. He was the kind of guy who always remembered your name. He just knew everybody. From the minute you got sworn in, he knew who you were, he knew a little about your family; he was just a people person. Then he applied for this grant program and got funding—it was a juvenile grant program and I was in the juvenile division at the time—and he came to me and asked me, “What are your thoughts? How would you feel about being involved in this program?” Basically asking me if this is something you can get behind, you know, not just from a job standpoint.

This was a guy who had so many people who reported to him—he was the BMOC—and he took the time. And for me that was huge. I think it shaped a lot of the reason I went into family law. Because it’s very people intensive, it’s very client intensive. You’ve gotta be there, you’ve gotta be compassionate, you’ve gotta care. This is people’s lives at stake. I learned that from him. His ethical standards? Bar none. He always took the high road. I love that he’s a family guy. It’s very difficult to mould your schedule when you’re a DA. You’re expected to be in court every single day. You know, the judge will clear a date with defense counsel but they won’t clear it with you as a DA because they know you’re going to be there. And he took the time to sit down with me—because I really didn’t want to work full time when I had my daughter—and he really brainstormed ways for me to work it out and not be there 100 percent of the time. I did one of the first job shares with somebody. And it was all because of him. He knew how important family was. Now I’m a shareholder, I just started my own firm, and that has absolutely carried over. I want the staff to feel like they can go to their son’s soccer game or they can leave a little early to attend their kid’s concert. That came from Bill, really, that sort of standard.

 

Valeri Pappas, of Davis & Ceriani, on Gary J. Ceriani

I started at Davis & Ceriani in August 1999 and worked with Gary from the beginning. He’s done over 150 trials and he has a way of looking at each case and finding a way to boil it down to what’s really important—to tell the story or to make very dry business concepts accessible to the average person. He’s got so much great experience and he’s willing to share that with younger lawyers, which I think is pretty rare these days. It’s such a collaborative process here. When we’re prepping for trial we’re in each other’s office about 12 times a day. “What about this? What do you think about this? How would this work?” We shoot arrows at each other’s arguments but try to figure out the best way to present the evidence. I believe that’s the best way to be mentored, to have it be a collaborative process. It’s also a lot of fun. He’s not sitting in his office writing outlines, and I’m not sitting in my office, like we’re islands. We really are a team.

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