Boulder junior builds top-10 website for alumnus father’s law firm
Patrick Mulligan’s father may have transferred from University of Colorado Boulder to graduate from the University of Denver, but his continuing love for Buffs football paved the way for two generations of CU students.
“We started going to games when I was a little kid,” says Patrick (PoliSci’84; Law’87), who grew up in Wheat Ridge with four siblings. “We didn’t have a lot of extra money, but we all got to go occasionally. It was a big treat.”
Mulligan and two brothers attended CU, as have Patrick’s three sons, including Colin, 21, currently a junior who, like his father, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
In 1982, Patrick started the first springboard diving and master’s swimming classes at the CU Rec Center, a job he kept through his first year of law school.
He began his career as a deputy public defender with four Colorado jurisdictions. He opened his own his own criminal-defense law firm as a sole practitioner in 1994. In 2013, he invited his cousin, Marshall Breit, to join the firm, which is now known as Mulligan Breit.
“We’re still trying to help people who are often mentally ill, mentally challenged, substance addicted or abusers, or frequently, all of the above,” Patrick says. “They are the part of society that people don’t want to recognize or care about.”
He credits his parents for teaching their children to put public service first. His two sisters work in public education, his older brother is director of a public health-care clinic for American Indians in California, and his younger brother also served as a deputy public defender.
Colin is Patrick’s youngest son, and the third to attend CU. After declaring as an economics major, Colin decided to pick up a minor. His older brother Brian (Psych/Adv’15) suggested he check out the Technology, Arts and Media program, about which his friends had raved. After taking a few introductory TAM classes, Colin was raving, too, especially about a course in web development and design.
“I taught myself enough where eventually I could build good websites and start making a few bucks,” he says. He joined with a friend and fellow TAM enthusiast Troy Fairbanks to start a small design and media company, Goldrock Creative.
Poking around his father’s website (www.mulliganbreit.com), Colin was less than impressed.
“It had a poor color scheme and the spacing was strange and uneven,” Colin says. “The navigation system was awkward and hard to use, and there were probably 50 pages on the site—that’s kind of ridiculous; nobody is going to navigate 50 pages.”
When he approached his father with his opinion, Patrick didn’t disagree.
“I know what a computer is, and maybe where the on button is,” he says with a laugh. “That’s about as techy as I get.”
So Colin offered to redesign the site to make it more creative, interesting, lively and fun, all while saving the firm money.
“We thought, ‘He’s smart, he’s enthusiastic, we’re confident in him. Let’s let him run with it,’” Patrick says.
Colin handled design and coding for a custom site, while Fairbanks, a media-production major, used his video skills to create a clean, enticing landing page with slow-motion video of the two nattily dressed partners.
“You want to hit your audience with information you want them to know immediately,” Colin says. “It’s a clean, modern, professional website that conveys (the firm’s) message simply and elegantly. … The video really plays a huge role with an immersive audio-visual experience. You click and get the credibility and ethos of their firm.”
“We were immediately enthusiastic about it,” Patrick says.
Cynics will say that’s what a father has to say about his son’s work, but in this case there are more than Mulligans raving about the site: In February Lawyerist.com named MulliganBreit.com as one of the nation’s top 10 lawyer websites for 2017.
“For eight years, we have been finding the best examples of law-firm website design from numerous nominations. Our selection criteria include best practices for website design, basic search engine optimization, and website security,” Lawyerist.com wrote in a Feb. 15 press release.
Evaluating the Mulligan Breit site, the organization wrote, “We like the tasteful homepage videos on this site, which highlight the firm’s lawyers without being distracting.”
What’s more, analytics set up by Colin show that the site is performing better than its cluttered predecessor. The “bounce rate”—the percentage of visitors who click away after viewing only the home page—has decreased by 20 percent, and average session duration has risen 45 percent.
Overall hits are up as well, Colin says, but that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison because the new site has drastically reduced the number of “hits” that come from netbots or people in foreign countries who are trying to lure site owners to “scammy marketing groups.”
Colin plans to pursue a career in web development, design and media.
“It gives you skills you can use directly to make a business, to make money in the real world with creative websites, graphic design, film, coding, robotics. What I love most about it is its interdisciplinary nature,” he says. “The cool thing is that I have also been able to use some of the analytical skills and economic thinking I’ve learned in my economics course work to help in running my business.”
Patrick, meanwhile, continues to practice and advocate for “the least of these” in American society.
“I don’t know if it was growing up Catholic and having parents that really encouraged public service, or seeing so many people who are disadvantaged, but I’ve always felt like I owe something back,” he says.
He and his wife Julia, an artist, are giving back to CU as well, working with the Office of Advancement to create an endowed scholarship fund.
“The university and campus have meant so much to me,” Patrick says. “Creating the scholarship is another way to keep our family connected to CU.”