After earning a joint JD/MS from the University of Colorado in 2011, Gabriella Stockmayer clerked for the Colorado Court of Appeals and worked on a contract basis with Garlin Driscoll before accepting her "dream job" as an associate with Dietze and Davis in January 2013. She encourages law students and recent graduates to work their networks, take advantage of the Career Development Office at Colorado Law, and to continue to develop professional connections throughout their careers.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
I am an associate at Dietze and Davis, P.C. in downtown Boulder. I work primarily with our Energy and Water Group, prosecuting applications and participating in proceedings before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, performing regulatory work for our hydroelectric clients in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and assisting in water matters in the water courts in Colorado. Dietze and Davis is a general practice firm, however, so there are also opportunities to assist clients in general civil litigation, domestic matters, and landlord-tenant disputes, for example. Whereas most days I am drafting and reviewing pleadings or appeals in energy and water matters, I most recently litigated a contract dispute in Denver County Court. It’s always exciting, and there is so much to learn in every matter.
How did you find your job?
A lot of networking and coffee. A meeting with one of my mentors led to a string of names, which led to my initial contact at Dietze and Davis. I then met with several shareholders over the next several months. A year later, I was offered and accepted my dream job.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
Colorado Law provided valuable assistance throughout my job search. They assisted in editing my résumé and cover letters, as well as reviewing clerkship applications. They also notified me of a short-term employment opportunity, which allowed me interim flexibility and introduced me to several great attorneys in the community.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
Every day, I access legal writing and research skills, learned initially in my first year and developed over the course of my career. Additionally, legal professionalism, the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, and the tenets of administrative law inform much of my daily practice. Substantively, I have relied on courses such as Contracts, Property, Water Law, and Energy Law in various matters. Perhaps most importantly, the American Indian Law Clinic and externships throughout my law school career padded my landing into real-life lawyering, including managing client expectations, working closely with colleagues, and producing desired work products.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and networking specifically. How has your professional network made a difference in your career?
For one, networking is a primary reason I was offered my current position. Not only did I meet the right people through networking, but my professional network of colleagues and mentors were instrumental in recommending me for the job.
In the big picture, networking not only leads to jobs and clients, it also leads to a sense of satisfaction with our profession. For example, I am active in the Boulder County Bar Association, as current co-chair for the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section and past co-chair of the Young Lawyers Section. I also am a member of the Thompson G. Marsh Inn of Court. In these roles, I interact with other legal professionals in continuing education, volunteer events, and socializing. Such involvement improves my quality of life and creates a sense of community in the Boulder and Colorado legal fields, while also furthering my career.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
1. Ask mentors for connections and follow-up. These are the people that are most interested in helping you find a great opportunity. They will advise you of contacts and advocate for your cause. Be sure to follow through with contacting anyone they suggest. Stay in close contact with your mentor(s) through the process.
2. Work hard in your studies, jobs, and experiential opportunities. This will ensure you have mentors down the road.
3. Don’t just rely on the internet. Many jobs aren’t posted, or if posted, have already been filled. It is more and more important to find people with whom to connect, rather than relying on faceless postings and emails.
4. Don’t lose hope. Sometimes, finding a good job takes a lot of coffees and a long time. This was true for me, and for friends of mine as well. We all ended up with great positions, months later. Be patient and persistent.