Colorado Legal Market

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BlueLotus
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Colorado Legal Market

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:04 am

My SO, who is a software engineer, is thinking of relocating to Colorado in a few years, and he has connections to the state. I have no ties to the state whatsoever, in fact, I have never stepped foot in it. though I relish the outdoors, and would LOVE the idea of living there, esp. Boulder.

How difficult would it be to break into the state without any connections? I am interested in PD, legal aid, local government, and small firms doing family, immigration, or disability law. No interest in BigLaw. Willing to hustle. School I attended is unfortunately a regional one with not many grads in CO. I have anecdotally heard great things about the CO Public Defender's Office.

Any insight would be appreciated.

Right2BearArms
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Right2BearArms » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:26 am

Colorado = Small + insular.

The overall market isnt big, there are probably as many SA position at some large NYC firms as there are in the entire Denver area. There are a couple of national firms there, but the offices are fairly small, and a lot of decent sized local/regional firms that have a number of small offices spread over the state and mountain west. These firms do a lot of the kinds of work you list in your OP. The main issue with these is that they are almost exclusively hiring from the local schools. Pay scale is also noticeably low, especially given the fact that Denver is no longer among the ranks of "cheap cities."

Cannot speak for gov./PI too much. There is a large Federal Court house in Denver, as well as a decent sized federal complex, and there is the state and local government. Not too sure about the PI only sector, though I am sure it is no easier to crack than it can be elsewhere, with the added difficulty of being in a place everyone would love to live.

My only two anecdotes to share (FWIW) are: Classmates at my school (T20), both from Colorado (as I am, but I had no desire to go back), both with good-decent grades (one was top 1/3, other median), neither got a firm job in CO. One now runs a non-profit he started and the other landed a clerkship.

Other story: Friends sister, went to DU, hustled for a PD office spot in Denver. Loves the work, works a ton, and is in an office of almost exclusively CU and a few DU grads. Still knows several people who are unemployed/severely underemployed 1+ year after graduating.

Thats the crux of the problem, CU and DU turn out more than enough grads every year to fill the local needs. Add to that the strong regional preference, and the occasional T14 grad coming home, and CO becomes a very difficult market to crack as an outsider.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:43 am

Right2BearArms wrote:Colorado = Small + insular.

The overall market isnt big, there are probably as many SA position at some large NYC firms as there are in the entire Denver area. There are a couple of national firms there, but the offices are fairly small, and a lot of decent sized local/regional firms that have a number of small offices spread over the state and mountain west. These firms do a lot of the kinds of work you list in your OP. The main issue with these is that they are almost exclusively hiring from the local schools. Pay scale is also noticeably low, especially given the fact that Denver is no longer among the ranks of "cheap cities."

Cannot speak for gov./PI too much. There is a large Federal Court house in Denver, as well as a decent sized federal complex, and there is the state and local government. Not too sure about the PI only sector, though I am sure it is no easier to crack than it can be elsewhere, with the added difficulty of being in a place everyone would love to live.

My only two anecdotes to share (FWIW) are: Classmates at my school (T20), both from Colorado (as I am, but I had no desire to go back), both with good-decent grades (one was top 1/3, other median), neither got a firm job in CO. One now runs a non-profit he started and the other landed a clerkship.

Other story: Friends sister, went to DU, hustled for a PD office spot in Denver. Loves the work, works a ton, and is in an office of almost exclusively CU and a few DU grads. Still knows several people who are unemployed/severely underemployed 1+ year after graduating.

Thats the crux of the problem, CU and DU turn out more than enough grads every year to fill the local needs. Add to that the strong regional preference, and the occasional T14 grad coming home, and CO becomes a very difficult market to crack as an outsider.


Thanks, this is gold. Have any insider knowledge of the Boulder legal community?

Anonymous User
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:52 am

There is almost no Boulder legal community. It's an offshoot of Denver proper, it's very very very small, and it's incredibly highly sought after (a huge proportion of CU students want to stay in Boulder after graduation; I'd say maybe 2-4 a year manage to do so). There are a few decent local firms (but very small, like 10-15 attys) and maybe one branch office of Denver biglaw (also small, like 5 attys). Then there are some family, criminal defense, and maybe immigration solos, as well as some very small general practices in the surrounding suburbs. There are PDs in Boulder, of course, but in CO, you don't apply to individual county PD offices; you apply to the central PD and they place you where they need you in the state. The only person I know who got placed in Boulder straight out was a CU student who had interned there throughout school and built relationships.

The state trial judges in Boulder do hire clerks each year, usually new grads. Pay is about $36k last I checked.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:00 am

Anonymous User wrote:There is almost no Boulder legal community. It's an offshoot of Denver proper, it's very very very small, and it's incredibly highly sought after (a huge proportion of CU students want to stay in Boulder after graduation; I'd say maybe 2-4 a year manage to do so). There are a few decent local firms (but very small, like 10-15 attys) and maybe one branch office of Denver biglaw (also small, like 5 attys). Then there are some family, criminal defense, and maybe immigration solos, as well as some very small general practices in the surrounding suburbs. There are PDs in Boulder, of course, but in CO, you don't apply to individual county PD offices; you apply to the central PD and they place you where they need you in the state. The only person I know who got placed in Boulder straight out was a CU student who had interned there throughout school and built relationships.

The state trial judges in Boulder do hire clerks each year, usually new grads. Pay is about $36k last I checked.


Wow. Does $36K per year get you very far in Boulder? I am interested in state trial court clerkships (particular Family or Juvenile Court), but damn, that is low!

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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:10 am

It is. It doesn't get you very far, because Boulder is expensive. (TBF, it may have gone up a little since I last looked.) Also, I think the Boulder judges have general courts, and don't divvy up family/juvenile/etc. They may rotate dockets, though.

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LeDique
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby LeDique » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:58 am

State trial clerkships in CO are more or less where folks who couldn't get hired elsewhere hang out until they find a long-term job. In terms of actual outcomes, I haven't seen them improve much. Some judges are much better than others at helping their clerk look for work. For example, opposing counsel on one of my new cases recently hired a new associate who came from a shit tier law school and held a trial clerkship for a few years. presumably because she couldn't get anything else. It's at a 10 person insurance defense firm. In your case, it actually is a good way to develop ties and be employed for a year, so I would suggest you entertain that option.

I can also think of 2-4 people who stayed in Boulder as PDs/DAs alone, so that's a pretty low estimate. Not that it's a lot higher in reality (maybe like 10 outside of school funded jobs?). I also think there's more biglaw or big for CO firm outposts in Boulder than you estimate, but those exist solely for the important partners who don't want to have to commute (i.e., not you potential hire!). There are a number of smaller insurance defense firms in the 36 corridor that would be convenient for Boulder. Getting a job in Boulder proper is almost certainly a non-starter.

I would be incredibly wary of moving to Boulder without a job because there's three main geographic areas for the job, in order of how many jobs there are: (1) downtown/central Denver; (2) Tech Center Denver – this is a 2 hour commute from Boulder w/traffic; (3) Boulder. From a numbers perspective, living in Boulder isn't a good bet.

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LeDique
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby LeDique » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It is. It doesn't get you very far, because Boulder is expensive. (TBF, it may have gone up a little since I last looked.) Also, I think the Boulder judges have general courts, and don't divvy up family/juvenile/etc. They may rotate dockets, though.

Boulder and Denver both rotate dockets, so there are exclusive civil/criminal/domestic/drug dockets in Boulder. I believe that's the exact 4 splits. All of the judges do anything they can to avoid domestic, it's kind of funny. There's a lot of talk that one judge's strategy was to go so slow and let his docket get so big, they'd never assign him to domestic again.

And to be clear, the PD assigning process sucks if you don't have ties to a certain district already. Who do you think they're sending out to Lamar or Sterling, you or the girl who already worked with the folks in the Denver office?

My bottom line on looking for a legal job in CO is that you better be okay with making about $50k as a starting salary. I think folks with $70-80k jobs are fairly lucky. You're really not in the conversation for a job at the bigger firms paying more than that, unless you've got more experience than I know about from your posts. If you're okay with that and willing to work in any kind of law, you'll probably find a job.

Arbinshire
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Arbinshire » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:50 am

Colorado is tough to crack because they're strict on C&F. Your parking ordeal and scolding by your supervisor will be problematic ;)

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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:10 pm

The Denver market is very crowded and insular. To add another anecdote: I went to a state school, worked as a paralegal at a large Denver firm for years, and then attended a T14. Even above median I could not crack it.

If you look at firm rosters, most are taking top 10% CU/DU grads and really only take laterals with a T14 + V100 background. It's possible the smaller firms in town take a different approach, though.

If you're applying to smaller firms, try looking at other cities along I-25 like Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. Fluency in Spanish would make you a lot more competitive for smaller firms since Denver (and CO) has one of the biggest hispanic populations in the country.

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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:44 pm

bump.

Does having a D. Colorado federal clerkship as the first time in the state help break into the Denver market? Would the law firms still question about ties and commitment to the city?

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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:04 am

Arbinshire wrote:Colorado is tough to crack because they're strict on C&F. Your parking ordeal and scolding by your supervisor will be problematic ;)


I was under the impression it was the literal opposite and one of the easiest C&F states. Heard of people getting barred with pretty serious records.

I'm also working in "biglaw" in Boulder, and the previous poster vastly under-estimates the number of attorneys here. Not that it's a lot, obviously, but certainly more than "5," or even just a small office for important partners. And this isn't the only comparable firm in town. Also pay is not bad at all, only ever so slightly below NY. And the benefits are muchhh better than my classmates in NY/CA sort of firms. That might even put all-in 1st year comp ahead of New York, even before taking into account the WAYYY cheaper COL here. On the COL front, CO people consider Boulder expensive, but relative to the coasts, its reallllllly not. You can live a 10-15 minute drive away from downtown boulder in a really nice place for like $1k.

I can't speak to the sort of jobs you are interested in OP so apologies for that, but I just wanted to drop what I knew here, because there's not much CO info on TLS and I imagine other CO ppl might stop in.

But, on the topic of ties, I feel like most firms are realllllly looking for a family connections. A husband/wife is definitely a strong enough family connection though, especially if his/her family is in the mountain west.

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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby owlofminerva » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Arbinshire wrote:Colorado is tough to crack because they're strict on C&F. Your parking ordeal and scolding by your supervisor will be problematic ;)


I was under the impression it was the literal opposite and one of the easiest C&F states. Heard of people getting barred with pretty serious records.

I'm also working in "biglaw" in Boulder, and the previous poster vastly under-estimates the number of attorneys here. Not that it's a lot, obviously, but certainly more than "5," or even just a small office for important partners. And this isn't the only comparable firm in town. Also pay is not bad at all, only ever so slightly below NY. And the benefits are muchhh better than my classmates in NY/CA sort of firms. That might even put all-in 1st year comp ahead of New York, even before taking into account the WAYYY cheaper COL here. On the COL front, CO people consider Boulder expensive, but relative to the coasts, its reallllllly not. You can live a 10-15 minute drive away from downtown boulder in a really nice place for like $1k.

I can't speak to the sort of jobs you are interested in OP so apologies for that, but I just wanted to drop what I knew here, because there's not much CO info on TLS and I imagine other CO ppl might stop in.

But, on the topic of ties, I feel like most firms are realllllly looking for a family connections. A husband/wife is definitely a strong enough family connection though, especially if his/her family is in the mountain west.


Would you mind giving a list of the larger firms located in Boulder?

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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:16 pm

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Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

favabeansoup
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby favabeansoup » Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not to derail, but did anyone here interview at Wheeler Trigg O'donnell in the last few months? If so, have you heard back? At this point I'm guessing it's a no.


Don't have any specific information at all about that, but I think you can reasonably assume if it has been a "few months" since you interviewed with them that you should expect a no answer. Longest time for an initial interview and followup for me was like 2-3 weeks.

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Borhas
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Borhas » Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:39 pm

BlueLotus wrote:My SO, who is a software engineer, is thinking of relocating to Colorado in a few years, and he has connections to the state. I have no ties to the state whatsoever, in fact, I have never stepped foot in it. though I relish the outdoors, and would LOVE the idea of living there, esp. Boulder.

How difficult would it be to break into the state without any connections? I am interested in PD, legal aid, local government, and small firms doing family, immigration, or disability law. No interest in BigLaw. Willing to hustle. School I attended is unfortunately a regional one with not many grads in CO. I have anecdotally heard great things about the CO Public Defender's Office.

Any insight would be appreciated.


The Colorado PD office will hire nationally even if you don't have ties to CO.

I grew up in VA and went to school in CA and I get a PD job here despite having never been here before I took the bar exam. The CO legal market has picked up and we have several positions that need to be filled. (seems like we hire 50 every year) I would apply ASAP if I were you.

You probably wouldn't be placed in Boulder because that office has low turn over. I would also avoid mentioning that you'd prefer to work in Boulder because you have to be willing to be placed anywhere in the state (including some places that are just outside of the middle of nowhere)

EDIT ok so you posted this in 2015. nevermind

Manali
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Manali » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:32 pm

Borhas wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:My SO, who is a software engineer, is thinking of relocating to Colorado in a few years, and he has connections to the state. I have no ties to the state whatsoever, in fact, I have never stepped foot in it. though I relish the outdoors, and would LOVE the idea of living there, esp. Boulder.

How difficult would it be to break into the state without any connections? I am interested in PD, legal aid, local government, and small firms doing family, immigration, or disability law. No interest in BigLaw. Willing to hustle. School I attended is unfortunately a regional one with not many grads in CO. I have anecdotally heard great things about the CO Public Defender's Office.

Any insight would be appreciated.


The Colorado PD office will hire nationally even if you don't have ties to CO.

I grew up in VA and went to school in CA and I get a PD job here despite having never been here before I took the bar exam. The CO legal market has picked up and we have several positions that need to be filled. (seems like we hire 50 every year) I would apply ASAP if I were you.

You probably wouldn't be placed in Boulder because that office has low turn over. I would also avoid mentioning that you'd prefer to work in Boulder because you have to be willing to be placed anywhere in the state (including some places that are just outside of the middle of nowhere)

EDIT ok so you posted this in 2015. nevermind


Did you get hired thru EJW fair or did you just direct apply?

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Borhas
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Borhas » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:51 pm

EJW

Manali
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Manali » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:52 pm

Borhas wrote:EJW


Does the CO PD have a horizontal or vertical system of representation? How many active cases do you juggle at once?

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Borhas
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Borhas » Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:54 am

Manali wrote:
Borhas wrote:EJW


Does the CO PD have a horizontal or vertical system of representation? How many active cases do you juggle at once?


It's almost 100% vertical

case load depends on office, I work in a high case load office. Right now I have a case load of 148 juvenile and adult felony cases. I have closed 1051 cases in the 2.25 years I've worked here... which averages out to 532/year, well above ABA recommended caseload capacity ceilings (400 misdo/year 150 felonies/year 200 juvie/year). And it's not like all of those 1051 cases were misdos either.

PassionvMoney
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby PassionvMoney » Sun May 01, 2016 3:24 am

I know a guy who got on as an ADA in Pueblo CO and worked in New Mexico, neighbor to the south. No other connections. I'm considering moving to Colorado, 2 years exp as an ADA, on year as an Assistant City Attorney. Colorado Springs would be my preference. Good luck!

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Borhas
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Borhas » Sun May 01, 2016 11:37 am

PassionvMoney wrote:I know a guy who got on as an ADA in Pueblo CO and worked in New Mexico, neighbor to the south. No other connections. I'm considering moving to Colorado, 2 years exp as an ADA, on year as an Assistant City Attorney. Colorado Springs would be my preference. Good luck!


El Paso DA is always hiring, lots of turn over even compared to other DA offices, but they recently gave a pay bump to their starting ADAs

PassionvMoney
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby PassionvMoney » Sun May 01, 2016 12:28 pm

Borhas wrote:
PassionvMoney wrote:I know a guy who got on as an ADA in Pueblo CO and worked in New Mexico, neighbor to the south. No other connections. I'm considering moving to Colorado, 2 years exp as an ADA, on year as an Assistant City Attorney. Colorado Springs would be my preference. Good luck!


El Paso DA is always hiring, lots of turn over even compared to other DA offices, but they recently gave a pay bump to their starting ADAs


Any particular reason for that turnover. I've worked at two DA offices and there always seems to be turnover so that may just be something that goes with job no matter where you are. I'm just curious if there is something there beyond "I just want this as a stepping stone to get exp to do something else" type reasons.

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Borhas
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby Borhas » Sun May 01, 2016 12:48 pm

PassionvMoney wrote:
Borhas wrote:
PassionvMoney wrote:I know a guy who got on as an ADA in Pueblo CO and worked in New Mexico, neighbor to the south. No other connections. I'm considering moving to Colorado, 2 years exp as an ADA, on year as an Assistant City Attorney. Colorado Springs would be my preference. Good luck!


El Paso DA is always hiring, lots of turn over even compared to other DA offices, but they recently gave a pay bump to their starting ADAs


Any particular reason for that turnover. I've worked at two DA offices and there always seems to be turnover so that may just be something that goes with job no matter where you are. I'm just curious if there is something there beyond "I just want this as a stepping stone to get exp to do something else" type reasons.



1. I think a lot of them prefer to live in Denver metro and don't like the commute.
2. Pay is generally lower than Denver metro offices
3. Highest case load in the state.
4. Low level of discretion, high level of upper level DA's making you give offers within their guidelines, which leads to taking cases to trial that should be dismissed or settled.
5. Extremely conservative peers, especially among the more experienced DA's that have stuck around.'

This information is from the El Paso DAs that I've known, mostly younger ones. I'm a PD so it's not like I have personal knowledge.

PassionvMoney
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Re: Colorado Legal Market

Postby PassionvMoney » Sun May 01, 2016 1:21 pm

Borhas wrote:
PassionvMoney wrote:
Borhas wrote:
PassionvMoney wrote:I know a guy who got on as an ADA in Pueblo CO and worked in New Mexico, neighbor to the south. No other connections. I'm considering moving to Colorado, 2 years exp as an ADA, on year as an Assistant City Attorney. Colorado Springs would be my preference. Good luck!


El Paso DA is always hiring, lots of turn over even compared to other DA offices, but they recently gave a pay bump to their starting ADAs


Any particular reason for that turnover. I've worked at two DA offices and there always seems to be turnover so that may just be something that goes with job no matter where you are. I'm just curious if there is something there beyond "I just want this as a stepping stone to get exp to do something else" type reasons.



1. I think a lot of them prefer to live in Denver metro and don't like the commute.
2. Pay is generally lower than Denver metro offices
3. Highest case load in the state.
4. Low level of discretion, high level of upper level DA's making you give offers within their guidelines, which leads to taking cases to trial that should be dismissed or settled.
5. Extremely conservative peers, especially among the more experienced DA's that have stuck around.'

This information is from the El Paso DAs that I've known, mostly younger ones. I'm a PD so it's not like I have personal knowledge.


Ah I hate the low level of discretion stuff. That's one of the appealing things of being a DA. Where do you live? What's your opinion of Denver v Colorado Springs. Thanks for the info, greatly appreciated!




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