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Top Company: legal



Big law firm. Ton of history. High-profile cases. Almost sounds like something you'd seen on television.

 I'm always having to tell the kids at home, ‘That stuff never happens at our firm. There is no kissing in the hallways,'" says Patty Fontneau, chief operating officer at Denver's historic Holme Roberts & Owen LLP.

But there is much about HRO that might surprise those unfamiliar with the international firm, which employs some 250 lawyers and has eight offices, from Denver to Europe.

For one thing, the firm traces its roots to Denver in 1898, which likely makes it one of the three oldest law firms in Colorado (though it isn't always easy to trace the provenance of firms whose names have changed over the years).

"The firm was always named for its founding partners, and when they left, their names came off and new names came on," Fontneau says. The third name on its current shingle, Owen, belongs to the famous Church Owen of the 1920s.

HRO's deep commitment to community service also began with Church Owen. Virtually every employee gives his or her time to assist various causes, from Meals on Wheels to Denver's Passport to Peace program, and the firm provides pro bono work for organizations as varied as the American Civil Liberties Union and Ronald McDonald House.

In October, the firm held its third annual Jim Bye Day, in honor of a late colleague, providing costumes, candy and coats to homeless children while raising tens of thousands of dollars for the city of Denver's "Road Home" program to help end homelessness.

"Community service is part of the culture of this firm," says Managing Partner Ken Lund. "When I started here in 1990 ... I was amazed to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with the senior partners in the firm" on such community-service projects.

Holme Roberts & Owen also has a richly diverse practice, in the past year representing clients from the Homestake Mining Co. to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (in a high-profile case disputing the claims of professional cyclist Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his Tour de France victory in 2006).

HRO is proud of its diversity, particularly its representation of both "old" energy companies and "new" energy and environmental concerns.
"Hey, when this company started, oil and gas companies were the ‘new' energy," Lund says. "And now we are representing some of the leading alternative energy companies ... some of which are at the very forefront of Gov. (Bill) Ritter's new energy economy."

- Clay Evans

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