Published: April 20, 2005

by Nora Caley, Law Week Colorado--The American Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting had no surprises, but it did have a first. At the Salt Lake City meeting Feb. 14, the nominating committee nominated Karen Mathis, a partner in the Denver Office of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, as president-elect. If elected by the ABA House of Delegates at the ABA’s annual meeting, Mathis will be the first Colorado attorney to serve as president of the 400,000-member association. “I’m proud of our bar association in this state, and the lawyers in this state, and I hope to represent them with honor and dignity,” Mathis said a few days after her nomination. Mathis ran unopposed. She attributes that to her work as the chair of the ABA House of Delegates from 2000 to 2002. “Very often, but not always, if you have served in that capacity, you are not opposed when you run three years later for president,” she said. Mathis, who was admitted to the bar in 1975, has been involved with the ABA since 1977, when she joined the Young Lawyers Division. She has also served as chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section, the Commission on Women in the Profession, and of the Standing Committee on Membership. The University of Colorado School of Law graduate specializes in estate litigation, probate, tax law, receivership, and business law. She joined McElray Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter when she and Roseanne Hall merged their firm, Hall & Mathis, into the larger, New Jersey based firm in November 2004. “It’s very unusual for a small firm lawyer to become an officer in the American Bar Association,” Mathis said. “I have been very fortunate to join a national law firm. It would be extremely difficult for my law partner and my clients, so by joining this firm I have the resources to do a good job.” She added that she is talking to people and planning what presidential initiatives she will propose. An important issue is the baby boom generation aging and retiring. “Throughout our lives, we have shaped the institutions and culture of our profession,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Now, it’s time to tend to its future. Lawyers with experience and insight will be asked to share their skills, to ensure the professionalism—as well as the quality of life—of the next generation.” Baby boomer lawyers are not going to retire to their porch rocking chairs, she said. They will be expected to serve on community boards and other areas. “I have issued a call to work with me to craft a second season of service,” she said. “These people should not just go fallow. They should have ways to give back to the professional community.” Kathleen Odle, a tax and probate attorney with Sherman and Howard’s Denver office, placed Mathis’ name in nomination. It was seconded by Wynn Gunderson, a South Dakota attorney. The ABA annual meeting will take place in Chicago August 4-9. If elected, Mathis will then begin a one-year term as president elect, then become ABA president for a one year term.