Alison (Ali) Lipman knows the importance of communication in the field of law. During her time at Colorado Law, she engaged in meaningful relationships with professors and classmates and continued connections with them as professional colleagues. Today, as an associate in Johnson & Repucci LLP’s Boulder office, Lipman continues to use her interpersonal skills, even in potentially adversarial transactions.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a "typical" work day look like?
I’m an associate attorney at Johnson & Repucci LLP in Boulder. My practice is primarily real estate, land use, and business law, as well as some water law. My work is transactional, so I’m usually involved in drafting agreements (e.g. purchase and sale, operating, easement agreements, etc.). There’s generally a fair amount of collaboration that needs to occur in order to complete each deal, so communicating with all parties involved (e.g. the client, opposing counsel, title companies, lenders, etc.) is also a critical aspect of my day-to-day work. Needless to say, writing and responding to emails is a huge part of the job.
How did you find your job?
Initially, I found my job through a job search website. The Johnson & Repucci posting piqued my interest for a few reasons. First, I had experience relevant to the job—my first position out of law school was working as a transactional real estate attorney for a firm in Steamboat Springs (Elevation Law Group, P.C.), where I learned a lot and gained valuable experience. Second, I knew of the firm because I had worked with one of their attorneys on a transaction with my previous firm in Steamboat and had been impressed with their work. A mentor of mine had also used Johnson & Repucci professionally for water matters; he spoke highly of their attorneys and helped me set up an interview.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
After graduating, the staff at the Career Development Office helped me in my job search. This was incredibly useful in securing leads for potential positions, as was perusing the Colorado Law online job postings. Keeping in touch with professors and classmates was also essential in the job search process—this Colorado Law network ultimately helped me secure the job I have now.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
I regularly use two interconnected skills from two of the more practical courses I took at Colorado Law: Transactional Drafting and Legal Negotiation, respectively. In Transactional Drafting, we actually wrote the contracts we analyzed only theoretically in a Contracts course. In each Legal Negotiation class, we simulated real-world negotiations, which helped us better understand how to effectuate a meaningful agreement. Both of these courses were hands-on and thus immensely helpful in preparing me for client work. Ultimately, these courses made me more confident in my law practice.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and relationship building. How have your professional acquaintances (and friends) made a difference in your career?
People skills are especially important in my practice as a transactional attorney. Most of the time, I’m trying to engage opposing counsel in an amicable way because we have the same end goal: the closing of a deal or the mutual execution of an agreement by our clients. While advocating for your client’s interests is key, it’s not in anyone’s interest to be overly adversarial. Additionally, once you’re practicing within a certain bar, such as real estate, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter the same attorneys in future deals, so creating productive and professional working relationships is generally a solid practice.
With respect to friends making a difference in my career, I would say building good relationships during law school and maintaining them afterward is key, as your law school friends often become your professional colleagues. I’ve worked with a few former classmates on professional matters, and it has been an enjoyable experience every time. Furthermore, your friends can serve as personal and professional references. For example, I listed one of my best friends from law school—a Boulder water attorney—as a professional reference because we had been co-counsel on a matter together. This ultimately helped me land my current job because one of the water attorneys at my current firm also knew and respected her. The world can be very small.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
Build and maintain solid relationships with your classmates and professors during law school. They are your network and one of your greatest assets in the job search process. They will (at least in my experience) help you out when the time comes.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
Considering the stereotypical law school experience—lots of Type A personalities in a cutthroat environment—Colorado Law was a pleasant and welcome surprise. People studied together, supported each other, and genuinely liked to hang out outside of class.
In addition to being top-notch academics, the professors also contribute to a strong sense of community: they really care about their jobs and the students, and they are there to help. I would also tell a potential law student that Colorado Law has an excellent experiential learning program, and I would highly recommend taking a clinic. On a personal level, I participated in the yearlong American Indian Law Clinic, which was by far the most meaningful and practical work I did in law school.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
I was drawn to Colorado Law’s strong natural resources and environmental law program, as that was what I was interested in studying. The law school’s solid all-around professional reputation made it an easy decision. Not to mention, I’m a skier and mountain biker, so Boulder was perfect for me—having lived in Colorado for a few years after undergrad, I had no desire to leave.