She’s Dedicated to Understanding What Results Her Client’s Want. Meet Denver Attorney, Kristin A. Allan
Q: When did you know you would pursue a career as an Attorney?
KA: I knew I wanted to pursue a career as an attorney the way every 10-year-old child does: by watching LA Law (or Law & Order or Ally McBeal or Night Court). As a disclaimer, I do not recommend choosing your career path as a young child and based on a television show. But the idea stuck with me. It turned out the idea turned into a plan, and then into a series of decisions and actions, as discovered my strengths in researching, persuasive and explanatory writing, and analysis were well suited for a career in the law.
When I was in high school, I learned about injustice, and the many different forms it takes. As only one example, my parent’s life-savings disappeared in an instant, in a Ponzi scheme. During those moments, I saw my parents struggle and felt their emotional and psychological pain. I promised myself I would make a difference. It was just a matter of figuring out the “how.” Through my work as a lawyer and in running my own firm, I have figured out the “how.”
Q: Can you share with our audience, the types of law you specialize in?
KA: I have a boutique practice which focuses on contract and insurance policy interpretation and analysis. My days involve intensive research and writing, so that I may advise my clients on what the terms of their contracts mean, whether the particular contract clauses are valid or void under Colorado law, and how the particular terms and relevant law apply to the facts of the case. My work typically takes the form of analytic, informative, and persuasive writing. If I am doing it right, I (mostly) keep my clients out of court by devising creative, reasonable, and fair solutions to the legal issues they are facing.
Q: What aspects of the daily job of being a lawyer interest you the most?
KA: In my practice, I view every claim I handle as a puzzle which I must solve. Interpreting a contract and applying the law to the contract terms and facts of the case are all pieces of the puzzle which need to be pieced together. No single claim is alike. I tell my clients, “as the facts (or the contract terms, or the insurance policy language) change, so does the result.” I love the challenge of the puzzle: especially when I have put the last piece into place.
As a business owner, I am fiercely protective of my name and my product. That means, I take pride in my work, and knowing that in every claim, no matter how large or small, complicated, or straight forward, I have put my best effort into the task at hand. With that said, I am constantly striving to be better. And as the owner of my law firm, I am enthralled with the realization that I make my own rules and my own plan. If I sink or swim—hopefully, the latter—I know that my successes and failures are my own. I own them all.
Q: You received your law degree in New York … what brought you to Colorado?
KA: To quote my husband, “the easy life.” This is not a derogatory or belittling statement. I grew up on Long Island and knew from an early age that I would be much more suited to the mountain life. As only one example of my lifestyle change, in doing the math, my commute to and from work in NY took about 2.5 hours a day. My total commute now is 20 minutes. That extra time is not devoted to the billable hour. I work the same amount (generally) as I did in NY. But I now have 492 hours of extra time a year to spend with my family and friends, volunteer, develop other interests, and discover more about me. And I landed well, because I could not imagine a more breathtaking and exhilarating place to live and work.
Q: What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case?
KA: My strengths are not in “winging-it,” or ad-libbing or playing it by ear. These are all tremendous strengths and assets to many lawyers. I admire and respect those attributes, and I am constantly working on improving them, in my own practice. So, my approach is slow, steady, and thorough. It is only once I have performed my full evaluation or analysis that I can advise my clients on all courses of actions and formulate solutions to their legal issues.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
KA: The one lesson I have learned, and continue to learn, as business owner and lawyer is: make a plan, follow the plan, and when the plan fails (as most eventually do), be flexible enough to create a new one. Make your own plan and do not follow in anyone else’s footsteps. And if you are going into business with a partner, make sure you have an operations plan, succession plan and an exit strategy in place before you sign on the dotted line. Your plan may not be your business partner’s plan.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
KA: It is hard to pick one individual women. I have three close friends who were all single teenage moms. These women raised phenomenal kids. While at the same time, these women grew into successful businesswomen. Everything they are, their stories of how they got to who and where they are now, motivate and inspire me to be a better person, always.
There are so many women who are inspirational but not given credit. Especially during this COVID pandemic, the working mothers who were doing all that they could to piece life together and were making it work—only to find out they would now become teacher as well—and still make it work, inspire me.
Women attorneys inspire me. Our abilities to empathize, negotiate, persuade, communicate, and think creatively are essential to advocating for our clients, righting injustice, forming, and changing the law and protecting and defending those without a voice.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
KA: Every time I walk into a court room, a mediation, a deposition, a client meeting or even a legal group meeting, my ongoing refrain is, “Where have all of the women gone?” In law school, and at least in my experience, equality reins. But soon after, in the field, the women lawyers disappear. Historically, our legal profession has not been amenable to the difficult choices which often fall on women. Of course, childbearing and raising come to mind. But growing up in a male dominated field, there are so many nuanced ways in which women become undervalued and underutilized. Women are subject to ridiculous and offensive comments on appearance, style, lifestyle choices and career decisions, with the expectation of work product that not only rivals, but exceeds, that of their male counterparts.
I do think, as my generation of women lawyers climbs and claws our way to partnership and business ownership, things are slowly moving in a positive direction. I, for example, run my own successful firm, while raising my kids (ages 9 and 6) with my husband. But I fear many women have not and will not have the opportunity to make those decisions. Between the difficult work-life-family decisions that often fall on women and the micro and implied—and sometimes macro and obvert—subjugation of women while practicing, they just end up going. We should not have to make that choice.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career as an Attorney?
KA: Do not lose the confidence you gained in law school. Build on it.
Find a women’s legal group and a mentor. You will find them invaluable and you will learn that they rely on you as much as you rely on them.
Do not play within the lines someone else has created and is trying to force you to follow. Play outside the lines. Or better yet, draw your own.
Once you find your voice, use it not only to advocate for others, but for yourself.
Five Things About Kristin Allan
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Harriet Tubman. She is the true hero for herself, for women, and for black people cruelly and inhumanely enslaved. She is the true American hero. And I would like to talk her to thank her, for everything.
2. What do you do to get rid of stress?
As I tell anyone who asks working out, going out for a cocktail with friends and spending lots of quality time with my family. Endorphins in the morning from my workout send me off in a positive direction. Moderation, knowing my limits and enjoying my work-life balance have been the keys to my success.
3. What celebrity would you rate as a perfect 10?
No one. We can all strive for perfection, but in imperfection, there is beauty.
4. What app can’t you live without?
Before March 12, 2020, I would say something meaningful for my business or finances such as LinkedIn or E-Trade. Now I would have to say Uber Eats!
5. If you could have an all-expenses paid trip to see any famous world monument, which monument would you choose?
The Blue Domes of Oia in Santorini, Greece. It seems like it would be a moment of absolute perfection.