Colorado Supreme Court

Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.

65 bar investigators share ideas at conference

The Organization of Bar Investigators’ gathering in Denver featured sessions about motivational interviewing, investigative techniques and a moving story of an attorney’s redemption.


Fall 2015

A packed room of bar investigators sat rapt at a conference last month as Attorney Scott Meiklejohn recounted his spiral into alcoholism 15 years ago.

At first, Meiklejohn could still manage his legal duties. Then he began missing deadlines. And at some point, he started running out of money. So he eyed his trust account fund.

“I swore that I wasn’t that person,” he told the crowd, “that I would never do that.”

But he did. For taking from his trust account, he was eventually disbarred. His story, however, had a happy ending. After eight years away, and a strong history of recovery, he applied to be readmitted. And the attorney who helped him reenter the profession was the very attorney who sought disbarment in the first place.

“We believe in the power of redemption,” Jim Coyle, now Attorney Regulation Counsel, told those gathered.

Meilkejohn now volunteers with the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program, is the Vice Chair of Colorado Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and actively counsels others in recovery.

Their session, “The Regulator and the Regulated,” was just one highlight from the 12th Annual Organization of Bar Investigators Conference hosted in early September by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. More than 60 bar investigators from 26 jurisdictions traveled to Denver to hear from experts on motivational interviewing, compassion fatigue and the fate of changes to federal immigration policy, among other issues.

The conference ran for three days and featured nine sessions for those who help investigate attorneys accused of ethical violations. Coyle welcomed conference-goers the first day and introduced the keynote speaker, Justice Monica Márquez of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Karen Bershenyi, an investigator in the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and one of the conference organizers, said she found Thursday’s session on investigation techniques enlightening. Investigators from across the country broke into small groups and tackled a fictitious case.

“It was interesting to learn that different jurisdictions handle investigations very differently,” she said.

Earlier at the conference, Anjali Nandi delivered a talk on motivational interviewing. Nandi, the program director for a Colorado drug and alcohol treatment agency, told attendees about four steps: Keeping questions open-ended, affirming interviewees’ positive behaviors, reflecting back to them what they’ve said, and summarizing their statements.

In another session, former Colorado Attorney Regulation Counsel John Gleason teamed with attorney Alec Rothrock to discuss being on both sides of an attorney discipline case. Gleason, who now practices attorney discipline defense with Rothrock at Burns Figa & Will, urged the attendees to have compassion for respondents.

“The personalities coming to you are not who they are in regular life,” he said. “They’ve got a million things going on in their life, and they are fearful.”

The Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel has been instrumental in OBI from the beginning. The Office hosted the first bar investigators’ training conference in 2004. It was at that meeting that OBI was formalized as an organization. Since its inception, the organization has grown into an international association of more than 300 investigators helping to foster excellence in bar investigation techniques.

James Carlson is the Information Resources Coordinator for the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.