Have You Met?

Steve Black is a partner at the law firm of Holland & Hart and known around town for his tireless pro bono work for environmental causes and for working with the ACLU. Currently, he’s involved in a very high profile and controversial case in Colorado involving a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of patients in the state mental hospital in Pueblo, who are suing the state because they are not getting adequate care and treatment in the facility. The fundamental issue at stake is whether the hospital, which houses people found not guilty by reason of insanity, lacks an adequate system of progression so that patients can get treatment and progress through the system for eventual release back into the community or at least into a less restrictive environment. The trial goes to court in January.

Many Denverites also know Steve as one of last year’s 5280 most eligible singles. He’s frequently spotted out on the town either at a political event, a charity gala or at the hottest new restaurant or bar. In addition to having a high profile job and a demanding social schedule, Steve is also a single father, a music lover, an outdoor enthusiast and a passionate champion of the underdog and the environment. “I believe very strongly when it comes to protecting the rights of people who may not have the financial wherewithal to get fair treatment in the court system and would not otherwise be able to afford representation,” he says.

Ironically, Steve grew up in a politically conservative household in Boulder where his father was an attorney and his mother a homemaker. Steve also has one younger sister. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, and after spending his junior year abroad studying in Germany, he decided to become a lawyer. But first, he married his college sweetheart and they headed off to Africa for a two and half year adventure.

They traveled to Zimbabwe and taught at a rural African boarding school in the eastern highlands. Although Steve lived three and a half hours from the nearest town and no one had electricity or running water, he says, “That experience really changed me in many ways. They were great kids, who were highly motivated and dedicated. It was challenging and fun and those were the happiest years of my life.” Steve must have been an excellent teacher because it was mandatory for the kids to pass certain standardized tests every two years which were graded in London and on the same curve as kids in London and “one of my greatest satisfactions was having a 100 percent pass rate for all of my students,” says Steve.

Steve headed back to the states, graduated from law school at Berkeley and after working in Oklahoma City for a federal judge for a year in the 10th circuit court of appeals, his son was born and he moved the family to Denver where he has been ever since. Steve began working as an associate at Holland & Hart in 1990 and in January of 1998 became a partner.

Steve’s future plans are big. “I want to continue to make a difference and I love to travel, especially adventure travel.” He says he’d like to spend more time in South America, maybe do some climbing in Nepal when things settle down there a bit and visit Southeast Asia. “Someday I’d also like to learn how to make my own wine and have a little winery,” he says. “Oh and one more thing, in my wildest dreams, I’d love to conduct an orchestra some day. “

What are your volunteer activities? I do a lot of pro bono legal work, mostly with the ACLU such as prison litigation like institutional reform, or large class action lawsuits challenging unconstitutional conditions in prisons or state mental facilities. I’m also on the advisory board of the Glenn Canyon Institute in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is dedicated to advocating decommissioning the Glenn Canyon Dam and to the restoration of the Colorado River.

Which social event is your favorite? The opening night at the Sante Fe Opera in New Mexico.

Favorite Restaurant: Café Brazil

Who is your hero and why? Justice William J. Brennan, former Justice of The Supreme Court because he understood more than most people the importance of the Bill of Rights and the role of the constitution in a democracy. He always believed in the underdog.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? I haven’t met her yet, but I’d love to meet Diana Krall, a jazz vocalist and pianist.

If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? David Letterman because everyone says I look like him.

Saturday nights at midnight are most likely to find you: Either at a concert or in bed.

Do you have any Pets? Two Burmese cats named Fibonacci and Rizzo.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? That I had fun creating contemporary lighting and tried my hand at home improvement projects like redoing my back patio.

What one word describes you best? Optimistic

How would you like others to describe you? As a loyal friend

What was your first job? I worked at McGucken’s hardware in ‘bolt alley’ selling hardware.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My ability to procrastinate

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty

What is your greatest indulgence? Fine wine or weekend trips to New York or San Francisco, or Chile.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My children Sarah and Kevin.

What is your current state of mind? Happy

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising two wonderful self-confident, well-adjusted kids.

What is your most treasured possession? I’m not very materialistic, so photographs and my slides.

What is the quality you most admire in a man? Integrity

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Happy, self confident with a passion for life.

Favorite books / writers? The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver and Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

What is the best advice you have ever received? To follow your passion