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Law, family, community weave Anderson’s path

Fri, Feb 10, 2012

One on One

Claire Anderson, 29, grew up around the Colorado Springs law community because her father was a Fourth Judicial District Judge.

Even though she chose not to study law, and instead moved away from Colorado Springs to earn a communications degree and master’s in public administration, the legal industry, and community, remained in her heart.

She moved back to Colorado Springs four years ago to be closer to her family and took a job as the executive director of the El Paso County Bar Association

It was like a double family reunion.

Now, surrounded by family and community, she’s working for legal change and recently helped launch the Pikes Peak Pro Bono Project.

What do you recall about growing up around the law community?

I have wonderful memories of my father’s colleagues, both in personal and professional settings, being so welcoming and gracious. The judges and attorneys I grew up knowing were always willing to share a legal anecdote with me or allow me to sit in during an interesting hearing or trial. At home, I got to know these lawyers as genuine, fun, caring and authentic people who were really just interested in doing good work and giving back. These lawyers truly instilled in me an enthusiasm for the law and legal community. And, of course, I always love hearing the stories about how I, as a very young girl, took advantage of every opportunity I had to perform my favorite song and dance routines for any lawyer or judge who would watch.

What drew you to the position of executive director of the El Paso County Bar Association?

I saw an opportunity to enact change and to take advantage of both the challenges and advantages that this position presented. The bar association is uniquely positioned to do some great things and I loved the direction that it was headed. I knew that working for the first time as the executive director of an organization, combined with the distinctive clientele that we serve at the bar association would provide me with exactly the challenges I had been searching for. I have always believed in the rule of law and in the importance of the legal profession, and nonprofit work has become a true passion of mine. The bar association was the perfect combination of these two things and has provided me with the freedom I’ve been searching for to achieve my personal and professional goals, as well as make a positive impact on my community.

What is your vision for the Pikes Peak Pro Bono project?

The Pikes Peak Pro Bono Project is a program that has been years in the making and I’m so excited to see it finally come to fruition. The goal of the Pro Bono Project is to provide access to justice for citizens of limited means. The need for this project can be easily ascertained by walking down the street, listening to the news, visiting the courthouse or talking to a neighbor. The evidence of the economic downturn is visible at every turn. This situation has brought about an increase in Pro Se (self represented) clients, which in turn decreases judicial economy, increases feelings of desperation concerning major life events and creates a perception that those who are disadvantaged do not have equal access to the court system. In order to stave off the spiraling down effect created by circumstances often out of individuals’ control, our project will aim to increase availability of legal resources. I want to see our program become a beacon for the legal community.

What was it like to come back to Colorado Springs as a young professional?

This is a pretty amazing place to grow up. Returning as a young adult, I recognize not only how lucky I was, but you also begin to see the holes that need to be fixed and the gaps that need attention. This has become, for me, the perfect opportunity to get involved and give back to this community that gave so much to me growing up. I’ve become involved with my local Rotary Club, graduated from Leadership Pikes Peak’s Leadership NOW program, joined the board of a local nonprofit organization, worked on the Quality of Life Indicators for the Pikes Peak Region project, worked to help start a new local theatre company, and started volunteering for a local nonprofit that works to prevent child abuse and neglect. Becoming invested in this place again has reignited my love for the people and places of Colorado Springs.

Bet you’ve heard some great lawyer jokes, what is your favorite?

This is my favorite:

A lawyer is confronted by the devil incarnate. The devil offers the lawyer the traditional Faustian bargain. “I will absolutely guarantee you will forever win all your cases,” says the devil. “But in return, you must forfeit your immortal soul, dammed to Hell for all eternity. And, in addition, the souls of your parents, your brothers and sisters, your wife, your children and all your friends.” The lawyer thought for a minute. Then he said, “What’s the catch?”

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