Updated: May 7
Patricia M. Jarzobski is this year’s Mary Lathrop Trailblazer Award winner. Patty, as she is better known by her friends and colleagues, has a reputation and positive impact that stretch for miles. Patty is a true trailblazer, both personally and professionally. To most who know her, this award honor was a long time coming.
Patty was born in Nebraska to a Lebanese mother and Polish father and moved to Colorado to attend law school. She met her wife, Emily Anderson, in law school, and the two have been together ever since. Patty advocated, long before most of society was accepting of such, for LGBT protections, including the right to marry.
A graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Patty first went to work as a personally injury associate for the Denver office of a national firm that focused on plane crash litigation around the world. After nearly seven years there, Patty embarked on her own as a solo practitioner, at a time when many did not see success outside the traditional large-firm partnership track. While Patty recalls the weight of the risk she took back then, she says it was the best decision she ever made, aside from marrying Emily.
Patty is a beautiful woman, inside and out. To look at her, it’s hard to believe that she’s been a pillar in the legal and wider community for more than 30 years. She has served in numerous leadership roles and continues to meet new challenges head on. Early in her career, she was part of a group of lawyers that helped establish the Domestic Partnership Registry and advocated for LGBT employment rights, parental rights, and other legislative work advancing inclusivity for transgender people. A leader and role model in the LGBT community, she has served on the Board of Planned Parenthood and as a panel member for The Center’s Legal & Advocacy Program (f/k/a The Center, A Colorado Legal Initiatives Project). She was also a founding member of Equal Rights Colorado.
But her leadership and mentoring roles stretch even further. A former president of the CWBA (2012-2013), Patty also served in leadership roles for the CBA and the ABA, both when women leaders were a rarity. As president of the CBA (2016-2017), Patty was the first woman in that role in 10 years and only the fifth in the organization’s 119-year history. She helped design and lead the ABA’s three-day national event on bar leadership. She has served on the Colorado Supreme Court Contingency Fee Rules Committee, the 17th Judicial District Nominating Commission, and the Colorado Legislative Committee on Judicial Performance Evaluation.
In addition to her CWBA presidential term, Patty has long-been a supporter of the women’s bar in many capacities – serving in various positions and on many committees since 2007. She has given her time and energy to advancing the organization as the CWBA liaison to the Chief Justice’s Commission on the Legal Profession, the CWBA delegate to the CBA Board of Governors, and as a founding member for the CWBA Annual Foundation Dinner. Patty is also a member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.
Though Patty is a woman and proud member of the LGBT community, don’t for a minute think she fits in a box or label. Patty is an advocate for the people, all people, and has somehow found the time to also serve as a mentor for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Patty’s passion for helping others succeed is absolutely infectious, and she loves being a lawyer. She’s a current mentor for the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Mentoring Program and is always seeking out and working hard to include and engage newer attorneys. While she’s the first to admit that her success in the industry is due to others who helped her along the way, everyone who has had the privilege of knowing Patty would say she’s the one who helps them. Perhaps her desire to lift others up is simply because she had role models who offered mentoring and encouragement as she was building her career and she strives to pass that along. “In every leadership role,” Patty said, “I think ‘how can I help others succeed?’”
This drive or mantra has led to one of Patty’s proudest professional accomplishments – always finding herself in leadership roles when the organizations need transformation, when they need relationships built, cultures shifted, and the old guard torn down. But Patty stays true to herself, heeding Emily’s advice from long ago, “Don’t let them take your goodness.” Knowing Patty, that would be impossible.
Stephanie Williams is an attorney practicing primarily civil litigation, family law, and probate at a small firm in Elizabeth, Colorado. She enjoys writing, cheering on the Colorado Avalanche, and volunteering in various roles for the CWBA.