Through our participation in the Colorado Supreme Court’s Pro Bono Recognition Program, DGS is committed to upholding the firm’s pledge of providing at least 50 hours of pro bono and legal community service per attorney per year. In 2020, DGS lawyers completed more than 11,000 hours of pro bono work and community service. Many DGS attorneys represent clients who cannot afford legal services, thereby providing them with a critical means of access to justice. The firm is also a longstanding supporter of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest funder of civil legal aid in the country, and is a signatory to its 2021 letter urging Congress to provide supplemental funding to address the short-term and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income Americans.
DGS is a founding member of the Colorado Lawyers Committee (CLC), a consortium of Colorado firms that work together to undertake significant pro bono cases. DGS recently implemented a Credible Fear Interview Program in partnership with the CLC and the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN). DGS was selected as one of three firms to participate in this pilot program to help prepare asylum seekers at the Aurora ICE Detention Center for their credible fear interviews. Two of the firm’s lawyers served as pro bono counsel for an asylum seeker from Cameroon. Upon being falsely associated with anglophone separatist groups in his home country, he was tortured and imprisoned. After escaping from prison and journeying through 11 countries to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, he was detained and transferred to the Aurora ICE Detention Center, where he remained for over six months while the DGS team worked on his asylum case. The favorable outcome they achieved confirms that lawyers are uniquely positioned to promote a more just society.
The firm’s efforts and impact have not gone unnoticed: In 2020, DGS was honored with RMIAN’s Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of the firm’s transformative contributions to Colorado’s immigrant and refugee communities. In addition, the firm has twice been named CLC Law Firm of the Year for its pro bono contributions. Some of this work has included a historic Colorado voting rights case that resulted in the redrawing of legislative districts in the San Luis Valley to give Hispanic voters a stronger voice in the selection of their legislators. The firm also participated in a class-action lawsuit against state agencies and two Denver metro area counties, successfully challenging a state welfare reform program that unlawfully cut off cash benefits to some welfare clients.
Additionally, DGS has partnered with other nonprofit organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center (RMCLC), which protects abused and neglected children. DGS lawyers have provided pro bono legal services to RMCLC clients, and the firm offers both funding and training to help the organization expand its reach. In recognition of this dedicated effort, the Colorado Bar Association named one of its top pro bono awards after former DGS partner Donald W. Hoagland.
DGS lawyers play an important role in Denver’s legal, business, civic, and cultural communities – both as individuals and as representatives of the firm. The firm, its lawyers, and its staff sponsor and participate in a variety of worthy events each year and are involved in leadership roles in legal professional organizations, law schools, prominent charitable and civic organizations, and government agencies, boards, and commissions. Many DGS attorneys have held leadership positions with the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, as well as with the state’s many diversity and specialty bar associations.
Civic and cultural involvement is a way of life for many at DGS. Firm alumni include a former mayor of the City of Denver, a lieutenant governor of the State of Colorado, and Colorado’s deputy attorney general for natural resources and environment. President George H. W. Bush appointed one of our attorneys to serve as assistant secretary for water and science at the U.S. Department of the Interior; later, President George W. Bush appointed another DGS attorney to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. The Denver Public Schools Board counts among its past presidents a DGS attorney. Before joining DGS, one of our attorneys was director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White was a DGS alumnus, as was a former Colorado Supreme Court justice. Today, DGS alumni include judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the Colorado Court of Appeals, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, and the Denver County Court. Former DGS attorneys also currently serve as district court judges for the 1st, 2nd, and 17th Judicial Districts.
DGS lawyers have held leadership roles in a number of organizations. In addition to heading Mile High United Way (MHUW), they are serving or have served on the boards of the Denver Art Museum, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Colorado Ballet, Habitat for Humanity, Amp the Cause, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, the National Western Stock Show Association, Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs, KidsTek, Warren Village, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, Young Americans, the Family Resource Center Association, JEWISHcolorado, the Arthritis Foundation of Colorado, the Boettcher Foundation, the Butterfly Pavilion, Brent’s Place, the Denver Botanic Gardens, SungateKids, the American Red Cross, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, the Colorado Symphony, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Other attorneys have been actively involved in the Faculty of Federal Advocates, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Japan America Society of Colorado, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Family Star, Savio House, the Denver Zoo, the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Special Olympics of Colorado, Girls, Inc., and the Girls Athletic Leadership School. DGS is also involved in the Colfax Marathon, which helps raise money for nearly 200 charity partners. DGS runners took first place in the 2019 Corporate Cup Legal Division in support of MHUW.
In recent years, DGS has conducted an annual school supplies drive for children in the Denver metro area. Our support has ensured that every child in the program has the tools they need to succeed. Since 2005, DGS has participated in the Arrupe Jesuit High School work-study program, sponsoring four students as part of the school’s college-prep education and tuition savings program.
In 2015, DGS celebrated its 100th anniversary with the “Year of 100 Good Deeds” (Y100). In selecting 100 good deeds, DGS attorneys and staff first nominated potential projects in which they were involved. The DGS Y100 Committee then narrowed down the nominations to 100 unique causes that the firm would support throughout the year with financial contributions, volunteer projects, and pro bono legal services.
Notable Y100 beneficiaries include Mile High United Way (MHUW) and Colorado Legal Services (CLS). For MHUW, DGS made a contribution to the organization’s new corporate headquarters in the historic Curtis Park neighborhood – advancing MHUW’s mission of helping prepare children for school with the ultimate aim of enabling all individuals and families to become self-sufficient.
DGS’ commitment to CLS is longstanding. Former partner and founding member of the Legal Aid Society Don Hoagland believed that pro bono work not only helped the community but also made better lawyers. This Y100 contribution funded half of the cost of a new Case Management System (the Denver Bar Foundation funded the other half) in hopes that it would advance Mr. Hoagland’s vision and streamline the process for those in need of legal services.