This month, Jessica Brown, a partner in the Denver office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, began her term as president of the Colorado Bar Association. One of Brown’s main focuses for her yearlong term is a theme she crafted along with her leadership mentor, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser: “Lawyers as Leaders.”
She believes good leadership by attorneys becomes more important daily, and the need for leadership has never been more apparent.
“We both share a belief that lawyers can be leaders,” she said. “Of course, what that looks like can be varied — I think that lawyers should lead in ways that are true to themselves and their values and authentic to who they are.”
Brown has a long history of leadership positions ranging from serving as president of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, chair of the Legal Aid Foundation Board of Trustees, twice chairing the Barrister’s Benefit Ball and over 18 years at Gibson Dunn where she chairs the diversity committee.
With access to justice, equity and inclusion, racial justice, criminal justice reform and assistance to small businesses, Brown believes communities can benefit from attorneys stepping into leadership roles. Brown cited Stanford Law professor Deborah Rhode’s book “Lawyers as Leaders” for solidifying the idea for her. Many attorneys sit at the top of businesses, hospitals and other organizations, but the legal profession does little to prepare lawyers to be leaders.
“These opportunities are not just for fully-formed leaders, they’re an opportunity to get additional leadership opportunity and training,” she said.
Brown has three goals related to the theme of leaders: raise membership in the bar association and to have it viewed as a place for leadership training and opportunities; have lawyers step up to lead in all the ways needed for the legal and broader communities; and to promote lawyers and the legal profession by talking about how lawyers are making a difference, such as showing how they are making good on the promise of equal justice for all.