Brooke Wunnicke ('45)

Legends of the Month May '12

Brooke Wunnicke is a true legal pioneer. Throughout her illustrious career, she broke gender barriers at numerous levels, and with hard work, intelligence, and determination, she helped pave the way for future generations of female attorneys.

 

Wunnicke got an early start on refining her legal skills: in high school she was the California state oratorical champion and the state debate champion. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 1939. At a time with only three other women in her class, she graduated Order of the Coif from Colorado Law in 1945. While finishing law school and studying for the bar, she raised her infant daughter as her husband fought in World War II.

 

Following the war, Wunnicke started her legal career in Wyoming where she became the first woman trial lawyer in the state's history. She represented clients in front of12-person juries during an era when Wyoming did not allow women to sit on juries.

 

In 1969, Wunnicke and her husband moved to Colorado, where she served as the Chief Deputy of Appeals in the Denver District Attorney's office for 12 years. From 1978 to 1997, she served as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (DU), where she taught Oil & Gas Law and the Law of Future Interests. She was the first adjunct professor at DU to be awarded a DU Law Star for Excellence in Teaching. In 1981, she gave the commencement speech to Colorado Law's graduating class, marking the first time a woman delivered the commencement speech at Colorado Law.

 

In 1986, Wunnicke joined the Denver law firm of Hall & Evans LLC as of counsel. Her legal career has included a passion for improving the legal system. For years, she served as a consultant, expert witness, and frequent lecturer about legal ethics at national and state seminars. As a pioneering female lawyer, Wunnicke experienced countless growing pains. At the time she started practicing, no other attorneys wanted to be associated with a female attorney, putting her in the position of coaching herself through the realities and challenges of practicing law. In the 1970s, she mentored many young lawyers to help them overcome the obstacles she faced firsthand when she began her career. And while working for the DA's office, she mentored law students who worked there on a part-time basis. Her "graduates" included one former Colorado governor, six district attorneys, and four recipients of Colorado Law distinguished alumnus awards.

 

Wunnicke is co-author of the annually supplemented Legal Opinion Letters Formbook, Standby and Commercial Letters of Credit (both in 3d. ed., Wolters Kluwer), and Corporate Financial Risk Management (John Wiley & Sons, 1992). She is author of Ethics Compliance for Business Lawyers (Wiley Law, 1987) and she has published many articles for business and professional organizations.

 

Over the course of her career, Wunnicke has received countless awards including the Award of Merit from both the Colorado Bar and Denver Bar Associations, each given annually to one lawyer. She has been recognized as a Colorado Law Distinguished Alumna, and Colorado Law bestowed upon her its highest award given to an alumnus or alumna, the William Lee Knous Award. Not only is she a shining example of a Colorado Law alum who has overcome countless gender-based boundaries, but she has also been instrumental in mentoring attorneys, paving the way for female attorneys, andimproving the legal field for all of society.