Alum of the Month June '13
Jim Scarboro’s distinguished legal career spans more than 40 years. Scarboro graduated from Colorado College in 1963 with a BA in English and minors in philosophy and history. After college, Scarboro spent several years working as a reporter for the Ridgefield Press in Connecticut. When he decided that he did not want to make a career as a reporter, Scarboro applied and was accepted at Colorado Law. While in law school, Scarboro won the 1L oral argument and a brief writing competition and served as the co-editor-in-chief of the Colorado Law Review. He received the Edward A. Brophy Award and the Edward C. King Award for outstanding leadership, and graduated Order of the Coif from Colorado Law in 1970.
Following law school, Scarboro clerked for Chief Judge Alfred A. Arraj at the U.S. District Court in Denver, and then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White. Scarboro returned to Denver in 1972 and joined the firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs. After a year at the firm, Scarboro joined the faculty at Colorado Law as an associate professor, where he taught courses in constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, and contracts. During this time, Scarboro also wrote Constitutional Criminal Procedure with co-author James Boyd White. Scarboro taught at the law school until 1978, and then returned to private practice at the law firm of Martori, Meyer, Hendricks & Victor in Phoenix, where he specialized in civil litigation. Scarboro made partner at the firm and remained there until 1984.
In 1984, Scarboro joined the firm of Arnold & Porter as a senior partner and head of litigation in the firm’s Denver office. Although he officially retired from the firm in 2006, Scarboro continues to serve as senior counsel, managing attorney, and senior litigator in the firm’s Denver office, where he specializes in civil litigation involving product liability, contracts, real estate, corporate governance, commercial matters, securities, antitrust, and constitutional issues. Scarboro has been particularly active in product liability cases involving tobacco and diet drugs. He also handles land litigation and a variety of other legal issues for the Hopi Tribe, his longest standing client at the firm. In addition, Scarboro has devoted a significant amount of time throughout his career to handling pro bono cases, including representing several death row inmates in Colorado and Arizona.
Scarboro’s achievements are not limited to the courtroom. He founded the Colorado Innocence Project in 2002, and served for a decade on the Colorado Lawyers Committee Task Force for the Innocence Project. He has served for eight years on the Committee’s Sentencing Reform Task Force, whose work led to the creation of a criminal and juvenile justice commission that makes recommendations to the Colorado legislature regarding changes to the criminal code. He also serves on the board of directors for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Colorado Judicial Institute, and Invest in Kids, a non-profit organization devoted to early childhood development.
The Colorado Lawyers Committee has honored Scarboro on two occasions: in 1996 as the Individual of the Year, and again in 2000 with the Outstanding Sustained Contribution Award. In addition, Colorado Law has recognized Scarboro’s life and accomplishments. He received the Law Alumni Distinguished Practitioner of the Year in 1994, and in 2000 Colorado Law bestowed its highest honor on Scarboro–the William Lee Knous Award for Lifetime Achievement. Also, Scarboro established the James E. Scarboro Scholarship Endowment Fund to support Colorado Law students committed to the state of Colorado, public service, professional responsibility and legal ethics.
Scarboro's son, John Scarboro, graduated with the class of 2013. Scarboro and his wife, Ann, are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and enjoy spending time with their four grandchildren.
What is your fondest memory of being a student at Colorado Law?
Running the law review with my co-editor-in-chief Robert Hill – that was probably the highlight of my law school career.
What do you know now that you wish you had known in law school?
I feel like I know less now than I did in law school! The older you get, the more you will realize that you do not know everything.
What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?
Two things: first, be patient – becoming a really good lawyer takes a long time. Second, do not forget about public service, even if at the moment your primary concern is finding a job in a difficult job market. I would not have enjoyed being a lawyer nearly as much if I had not done pro bono work over the years.
Who was the biggest influence on your career?
U.S. Supreme Court Justice White was a huge influence because he loved to talk about the law, he loved to argue and think about the law, and he had a great analytical mind.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
I would have to say my marriage.