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A Legacy of Honor

Founding Members: Newman McAllister, Dan Stuart, L. Dan Rector, Howard Morrison, Sandy Kraemer, Elvin Gentry, G. Scott Briggs, Glenn Schlabs, and Ken Jaray. Not pictured: Hon. Joe Cannon, Larry Gaddis, Barkley Heuser, Phillip aKendall, Peter Obernesser and James Kin

Founding Members: Newman McAllister, Dan Stuart, L. Dan Rector, Howard Morrison, Sandy Kraemer, Elvin Gentry, G. Scott Briggs, Glenn Schlabs, and Ken Jaray. Not pictured: Hon. Joe Cannon, Larry Gaddis, Barkley Heuser, Phillip aKendall, Peter Obernesser and James Kin

When James Kin started practicing law at Pikes Peak Legal Services in 1971, it was pretty much up to him to figure out the legal landscape.

“Whenever you’re starting something and you have knowledge but not skill, and you’re just looking to get in the game and develop your skills, it’s never fun,” says Kin, a partner at Gaddis, Kin, Herd & Craw, P.C., and a founding member of the El Paso County Bar Association’s newly formed Legacy Society. “You never feel really comfortable that you know what you’re doing.

“So you watch other people, talk to other people and get in there and do the best you can.”

The Legacy Society Lifetime Membership Program aims to make that transition a little easier for a handful of young lawyers, who will be paired with the group’s 15 attorneys. Every mentor has practiced at least 35 years, which is a prerequisite to join the group, as well as one-time dues of $1,200.

Bar association Executive Director Zelna Joseph created the program after noticing how disconnected young bar members seemed to be with the 1,200-member organization.

“We have these senior lawyers,” she says. “They have this passion and love for the law. I started thinking there had to be a way for the senior members to pass that on.”

Dan Stuart, of Alpern Myers Stuart LLC, was voted president of the group when it held its first meeting in June. He says he was lucky starting out: Stuart was mentored by his firm, after joining fresh from law school in 1979. 

“I didn’t have to look elsewhere for that kind of guidance,” he says. “Typically in Colorado Springs, though, young lawyers either start their own firms or join a firm of one or two people.”

Kin says that today mentoring can’t be the casual thing it once was.

“In the old days, you could go to one of the watering holes after work and see people and chat or have coffee or breakfast,” he says. “There were more opportunities to see a small number of lawyers in the bar at the time. Now it’s bigger and more difficult.”

The society’s mission also includes honoring the longevity of its members and outreach to ill or infirm bar members. Mentors encourage community service (including pro bono work) and an emphasis on impeccable ethics, high personal standards, integrity and professional courtesy.

“I don’t think young lawyers come in with a different perspective, but sometimes, when you put your nose to the grindstone, when you’re trying to accomplish the goals of your clients, it’s helpful for someone to say, ‘You know, you don’t have to be mean to represent your client’s interest.’”

Kin has met with his charge, Judy Awong, twice now, as well as introduced her to colleagues at a recent bar luncheon. (“It’s really hard … to cold call a law firm and say, ‘I’m looking for a job,’” he says. “You need an entree.”) 

And if these Legacy members could look back and advise their younger selves? Both would tell themselves to simply wade into the fray and help people.

“Many times I see people going through some of the worst times in their lives,” Stuart says. “To be able to help solve those problems ... and let them know life will go on and things get better – is very satisfying.”