Magazine Feature / People

DU alums garner bar association appointments

Two DU alumni are at the top of the law world after presidential appointments in the American and Denver bar associations. Karen Mathis was appointed president of the American Bar Association (ABA) in August, and Paul Chan was named president of the Denver Bar Association in July.

Mathis, (BA ’72)—a partner in the Denver law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and Carpenter—is a business, commercial and estate planning lawyer who has actively participated in the ABA, the Denver Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association, the Colorado Commission on Child Care and the Mile Hi Council of Girl Scouts. She is the first person from Colorado to serve as ABA president and the third woman to hold that position.

Mathis will focus her one-year presidential initiative on at-risk youth and the legal issues that affect them. Her initiatives include encouraging active in-court participation, reforming the juvenile status offender process, providing better access to community-based mental health services and garnering support for teens who experience high family conflict. 

“We serve because it is our nature. Service is what drew many of us to the law,” Mathis said upon her ABA appointment. “We are privileged to be America’s lawyers. It’s our time to pay it forward.”

Paul Chan (BA ’81), DU’s university counsel, has served as chair of Minorities in the Profession, a joint committee of the Colorado and Denver bar associations, and as president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He also has been a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s board of governors and the Colorado Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Chan has been active in promoting diversity in the legal profession, and he said he plans to reach out to diverse lawyers during his year as president.

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