Woman of Influence: Wendy Pifher

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Wendy Pifher, Holland & Hart

Wendy Pifher’s search for a balanced life has often been complicated by her pursuit of her dreams. Pifher can cite many accomplishments in her legal career. But perhaps her most notable accomplishment is the balance she has achieved despite the demands of her profession.

“I don’t think I’m good at balance,” she says. “It can be a struggle.”

Yet it seems to be a struggle she’s mastered.

She plays an active role on two nonprofit boards, and even finds the time to enjoy the outdoors. Sleep-deprived, perhaps. Unbalanced? No way.

Pifher discovered her love of the law in college and obtained a paralegal degree from Lansing University. She and her husband, an environmental lawyer, met in Milwaukee but moved to Colorado shortly after their marriage.

She worked for several years as a paralegal for Digital Equipment Co. There, she was encouraged to get her law degree. That meant night classes at the University of Denver. She asked her kindergarten-aged son if that was okay with him. “He said, ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea until I’m in school fulltime. That is, unless you buy me a saxophone.’ I said, ‘That saxophone will be as big as you!’ We didn’t buy it, and I waited a year.”

She asked him the same thing when he entered first grade. Again, he suggested she wait — unless she bought him a saxophone. “I wanted to go to law school, so we bought him the saxophone!” she says. Result: Pifher earned her law degree after three-plus grueling years of night school, and Jeff became a virtuoso jazz saxophonist.

She joined Holland & Hart in 1994, and has focused primarily on intellectual property matters.

Ninety percent of her clients are outside Colorado, among them Sears and Quiznos. Carmichael Training Systems is one of her local ones, and through that work, she became involved with the nonprofit Kids on Bikes, founded by Chris Carmichael’s wife, Paige. Pifher is on the board there, and also with the nonprofit Starlight Children’s Foundation. Those two resonate strongly with her, and help her round out her “unbalanced” life.