Colorado Supreme Court

Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.

Can you spot the difference between the two pictures?

Hint: The answer is more than 150 years old

By Zak Bratton


Look closely. Can you spot the difference in the photos?

The photo on the right showcases the original Roll of Attorneys, part of the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and Colorado history.

A historical logbook, the Roll of Attorneys contains the official Supreme Court record of attorneys. And no, we aren’t talking about the modern-age record with a convenient name search function. This original piece of history, with leather-bound wrapping and names scribbled in script on withered paper, is more than 150 years old.

Dan Cordova, Supreme Court Librarian, and Jim Coyle, Attorney Regulation Counsel, celebrate a new artifact on display

The original Roll is comprised of two books. The first dates all the way back to 1861, the year Colorado first became a territory of the United States. The Roll of Attorneys includes the very first attorneys who received a Colorado territorial license to practice law and continues for the following eight decades.

Closed and bound next to it is the second book that continues the Roll of Attorneys from 1941 to 1985. Today, this catalog of attorneys can be accessed from the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel website, under Attorney Search & Disciplinary History.

This chronicle of the past also gives the Office our own history lesson. In present day, when an attorney is disbarred for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge issues an “Order and Notice of Disbarment.” From there, the attorney’s name is stricken from the list of attorneys authorized to practice in the State of Colorado. Their name still appears in the online database but their status is changed from “active” to “disbarred.”

However, in prior disciplinary cases before the introduction of the online system, an attorney who faced a disciplinary case and was disbarred would have their name actually stricken by a red line through their name. This bold, red strikethrough is still visible on the document today and distinguishes those who failed to uphold their duty as a legal professional.

Colorado Supreme Court librarian Dan Cordova said these hand-written highlights, as well as the way the book is arranged, are the most striking things about the Roll of Attorneys.

Unlike previous records that are organized chronologically, the Roll of Attorneys is arranged alphabetically first, chronologically second. Many pages also have transcriptions: attorneys who were disciplined and disbarred have a red line through their name, those who were reinstated after disbarment have it notated next to their name with a date authorizing them to practice law from that point forward, etc.

Come visit the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel during our regular business hours: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., to feast your eyes on this important piece of history.

Zak Bratton is the Education and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.