Two new Dean’s Choice Awards established by the University of Colorado Law School’s Law Alumni Board will recognize alumni for their mentorship of other attorneys and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The new awards, each named for a distinguished Colorado Law alumnus, are the Brooke Wunnicke Outstanding Mentor Award and the Sonny Flowers Award.
The Brooke Wunnicke Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes alumni who are honored attorneys at law for ethical trial, appellate, or business practice and who have maintained an extraordinary ability to mentor and convey this dedication to other lawyers.
Wunnicke, a 1945 graduate of Colorado Law, was a legal legend. She resided in Wyoming for many years and conducted jury trials when women were not legally allowed to sit on juries. She was the first woman to serve in Colorado as the Chief Appellate Deputy in the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Through her many years of dedicated service to the legal profession as a trial and appellate attorney, business advisor, mentor, adjunct professor, consultant, and published author, Wunnicke earned the distinction as one of Colorado’s most honored legal professionals.
During her 12 years as Chief Appellate Deputy and her many years in private practice, Wunnicke mentored many young lawyers and law students to educate them on how to address the everyday challenges in the practice of law. Her "graduates" included one former Colorado governor, six district attorneys, and four recipients of Colorado Law distinguished alumnus awards.
"Brooke was the most extraordinary lawyer I ever knew. The depth and breadth in which she practiced our profession with great skill emanated from her deep love of the law and an understanding of its profound importance in our society. One of her most remarkable skills was the ability to pass that deep love and understanding on to newer lawyers through her selfless mentoring. Many of us would not have the careers we enjoy if it had not been for Brooke," said Law Alumni Board member and immediate past chair of the nominating committee Mark Fogg (’79).
The Sonny Flowers Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion among the law school and legal profession, specifically including the advancement of individuals from underrepresented groups.Flowers, who graduated from Colorado Law in 1971, was a litigator with Hurth, Sisk & Blakemore LLP in Boulder. An integral part of the University of Colorado Law School and CU Boulder communities for the last 50 years, Flowers served as a champion for diversity at Colorado Law. He traveled the state to recruit students of color, helped to establish CU Boulder’s Black Alumni Association, and created an endowed scholarship for students of color at both Colorado Law and the University of Denver. Flowers died in July 2020.
Flowers' service to the Colorado legal community included the presidencies of the Sam Cary Bar Association, the Boulder County Bar Association, and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association’s executive committee. He was a past president of the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation-only membership group of trial lawyers who represent both civil defendants and plaintiffs, and the American Association for Justice, where he served on its executive committee and board of governors. He also served as vice president of the Colorado Bar Association and the National Bar Association.
Over the decades he served the University of Colorado as president of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, chair of the Colorado Law Alumni Board, member of the CU Foundation board, and mentor of Black student-athletes. In 2016, he was recognized with the Alumni Association’s George Norlin Award. In 2020, he received Colorado Law’s Distinguished Achievement Award—Solo/Small Firm Practitioner.
"Sonny had the character that lawyers should aspire to. We tried an extremely difficult, emotional case against each other in the early 1990s with a lot of media attention. I emerged from that case with a deep respect for, and friendship with, Sonny. You intuitively trusted him and he always interacted with warmth and compassion. We need more lawyers like him," Fogg said.
The inaugural Sonny Flowers Award will be awarded at the 2021 Alumni Awards Celebration to the Hon. Gary Jackson (’70).
These new awards join two existing Dean’s Choice Awards, the Dean Edward C. King Making a Difference Award and the Richard Schaden Adopted Alumnus Award. Each award is given at the annual Alumni Awards Banquet at the dean’s discretion.