The Law Alumni Board presented its annual awards at a banquet ceremony on Thursday, March 10 at the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Denver. The Board recognized Gail H. Klapper ’68 with the William Lee Knous Award, Victoria J. Ortega ’90 with the Distinguished Achievement in Public Service Award, Herrick K. Lidstone Jr. ’78 with the Distinguished Achievement in Private Practice Award, and Dru R. Nielsen ’97 with the Distinguished Achievement Small/Solo Practitioner Award.
Dean Lolita Buckner Inniss presented two awards as well, naming George V. Berg as the Richard Schaden Adopted Alumnus, and recognizing Kathleen B. Nalty ’85 with the Sonny Flowers Award.
Over four hundred alumni, faculty, students, family, and friends gathered for the evening, which was hosted by our illustrious dean as well as current Law Alumni Board Chair David W. Stark ’73 and former Chair, Richard Murray ‘07. “It’s been three years since we were able to celebrate in person,” reflected Stark as he happily welcomed the crowd. “And tonight, we honor six individuals who exemplify the University of Colorado Law School’s mission and vision through their work and achievements, so let’s get started!”
Among the crowd were members of the federal and Colorado judiciary, elected officials, and other esteemed members of the Colorado legal community.
The first award of the evening, the Richard Schaden Adopted Alumnus Award, was presented to George V. Berg by Dean Inniss. Berg is one of the four founding partners of Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP. His practice of over 45 years emphasizes complex commercial transactions, litigation, real estate, construction, banking and finance, and insurance coverage law. Berg has shown incredible support for Colorado Law and our students, Inniss said to the crowd.
The next award, the Sonny Flowers Award, recognizing alumni who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion among the law school and legal profession, went to Kathleen B. Nalty ’85, who has devoted her career to diversity, civil rights, social justice, and inclusion.
David Stark then returned to the stage to present the Law Alumni Board’s three Distinguished Achievement Awards. Victoria J. Ortega ’90 received the Board’s Distinguished Achievement for Public Service Award. Ortega, Denver’s deputy clerk and recorder, was showered with praise for her incredible commitment to public service.
Herrick K. Lidstone Jr. ’78 was given the Board’s Distinguished Achievement for Private Practice Award. Lidstone, a shareholder in the law firm of Burns Figa & Will P.C., practices in the area of business transactions and ethics and has been an adjunct professor for both Colorado Law and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Lidstone’s children and grandchildren cheered him on from the audience.
Dru R. Nielsen ’97 was presented with the Distinguished Achievement for Small/Solo Practitioner Award. Nielsen, recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorney in Colorado, has devoted her entire career to aggressively defending individuals accused of committing crimes. Thunderous applause from the audience followed the presentation of her award as the room swelled with pride.
The final award of the evening—the William Lee Knous Award— was presented by Dean Inniss to Gail H. Klapper ‘68, whose career has been “nothing short of tremendous.” Klapper, a fourth-generation Coloradan, has been the member/president of the Colorado Forum since 1989 and has served on numerous boards including those of Great-West Funds, Inc, Houghton Mifflin, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and National Jewish Health. The Knous Award, Colorado Law’s highest alumni honor, recognizes outstanding achievement and sustained service to the law school.
Klapper, who was visibly moved, shared with the audience. “The William Lee Knous Award is so meaningful to me for several reasons. William Knous contributed to the state in ways that have never been duplicated,” she said, “So, I thank you for this wonderful honor that inspires me to use the legal training I was fortunate to receive at the law school to help make Colorado the best it can be.”
The evening closed as eight attendees were chosen by the luck of the draw to win fabulous door prizes and the crowd enjoyed the dessert reception.
View photos in the Alumni Awards 2022 Flickr album.
Read more about the Alumni Awards.