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CWBA Convention From Law Student Courtney Keyes' Perspective

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

After leaving my employer of nine years on Friday, May 20, 2022, I was looking forward to the CWBA Convention and a short vacation in Beaver Creek before starting an unpaid externship the following Monday. I planned to arrive early on Saturday to participate in “Connection at Convention”. But, as for many others, the unseasonable weather that weekend thwarted my plans. I didn't make it to Beaver Creek until the cocktail reception just before the annual dinner on Saturday night. Yet, despite missing almost all the Convention events, I got the full force of the sense of community and mission that the Convention provides.

As a law student and a first-time attendee, I was nervous jumping right into the reception without having shared the rest of the Convention experience. I moved among various circles making awkward eye contact to let people know I was looking for conversation. To my relief, everyone was very welcoming. I made several new acquaintances, some of whom I met again later at the CWBA summer social. Commiserating with new attorneys who were still haunted by the bar exam, receiving assurance and advice from more established attorneys that it will all pay off, and soaking up the wisdom of seasoned or retired attorneys were reasons enough to attend the Convention.

The first person to welcome me to the Convention was Tessa DeVault. We chatted about her work in construction law, my uncertainty around the gap between graduation and the bar exam, and a potential research position with her firm. We sat together at the annual dinner, and Tessa shared additional advice about becoming involved in the CWBA. She even introduced me to her contact on the Publications Committee, which I have since joined. After the Convention, I reached out to thank her for the conversation and to ask about the position she had open at her firm. Our discussion resulted in a job offer, and I am happily working for DeVault Law, LLC, as a Legal Research Assistant!

The Convention helped me feel secure in my future, connected to the CWBA community, and part of the CWBA mission. I heard many paths to success and overcoming obstacles – including some like those I was experiencing in my own career transition. The “Passing the Gavel” celebration and the live “On What Grounds?” session helped me understand the power of the CWBA and encouraged me to become involved. Attending the Convention renewed my confidence in myself and our ability to effect change as a community.

Given how rewarding I found my brief Convention experience this year, I can't wait to attend the entire event next year and into the future. I encourage all CWBA members to attend. (Scholarships are available, so don’t be deterred by the cost of registration, travel, and lodging.)


Courtney Keyes is a Legal Research Assistant at DeVault Law LLC, where she conducts research into construction law and related matters. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University with a double major in English and Film Studies and double minor in Marketing and Computer Organization/Programming. Courtney worked full time as a Business Analyst while she attended the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She worked for a Medicare Contractor for nine years prior to transitioning to the legal field and credits her membership in the CWBA and the Rhone-Brackett Inn of Court for easing the transition. Courtney has also served on the Thornton Arts, Science and Humanities Council Board of Directors since Fall 2018.

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1 Comment

Emma Garrison
Emma Garrison
Aug 05, 2022

Thank you so much for this post and for coming to Convention! It is always scary to try out a new group and walk into a large event. I'm glad you gave us a chance and found the experience worthwhile! Congrats on the new gig!

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