Alum of the Month Dec '13
This month Colorado Law honors another one of our highly successful alums in the Denver area, Brian Duffy. Duffy, an Iowa native, did his undergraduate studies at the University of South Dakota, graduating with a BS in political science in 1988. Duffy had wanted to become a trial lawyer since grade school and was planning to attend law school at the University of Minnesota. However, the summer before he was to start law school, Duffy came to Boulder for vacation and decided it was simply too beautiful to go anywhere besides Colorado Law. Although he decided to apply to Colorado Law after the application deadline had passed, Duffy was admitted.
During law school, Duffy worked both as a legal writing teaching assistant and as a teaching assistant in the business school, was a notes and comments editor for the University of Colorado Law Review, and regularly brought his daughter to school with him. He graduated Order of the Coif from Colorado Law in 1991.
Duffy began his legal career as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Jim. R. Carrigan at the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. After finishing his clerkship, Duffy entered private practice at the Denver office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. After a number of years at the firm, Duffy and a number of other litigators left to help open the firm of Zevnik Horton & Palmer, a contingency fee litigation firm that specialized in commercial litigation. He remained at the firm until 2001, when he and several other attorneys, including fellow Colorado Law alum David Palmer (’70), were invited to join the recently opened Denver office of Greenberg Traurig LLP, where Duffy currently practices and is a president of the firm.
In his private practice, Duffy focuses on trial and appellate work in class action, employment, energy, commercial contract and product liability areas, and he serves as national, regional, and local counsel in high profile cases. He has previously served as chair of the firm’s Global Litigation Department; he has been listed in both Colorado Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America for several years running; and he has garnered numerous other awards and distinctions. In his spare time, Duffy is an avid fly fisherman and maintains a weekend home in his native Iowa.
What is your fondest memory of being a student at Colorado Law?
The great friendships I formed that I still value today.
What do you know now that you wish you had known in law school?
Take your profession and your clients seriously, but never take yourself too seriously.
What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?
Be a great lawyer and always put your client’s interests first -- all the rest is mostly noise.
Who was the biggest influence on your career?
David Palmer. There is nothing more important than finding the right mentor to teach you how to be a lawyer.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe next year.