Ashlee Hoffmann

about this episode

Civil litigation associate Ashlee Hoffmann talks about growing up in Wyoming, finding her passion for civil litigation in law school, teaching, traveling the world and eventually finding her home at Burnham Law, whose culture and ethos resonated deeply with her.

episode transcribed

Todd Burnham 0:00
Hi, this is Todd Burnham. I am a licensed practicing attorney. But just because you're listening to me doesn't mean that I represent you. This is for informational purposes only if you're good with that, then let's roll.

Chris Braden 0:20
Season One was about how Todd Burnham started Burnham Law in his basement and built it to one of the most prestigious law firms in Colorado by thinking outside of the box and surrounding himself with the best lawyers and staff in the industry. Now during a pandemic Burnham Law is still growing. How you ask? Walk toward the storm and face it head on and you empower the people that help get you there. It's time to execute. It's time to make some lemonade. It's time to burn the ships. This is Deep Bench with Todd Burnham. All right. This is usually the part where I say hey, what's up Todd? He goes nothing. What's going down, Chris? But we don't have Todd today. We're excited to have Ashlee Hoffmann. Attorney at Burnham Law. Ashlee, how're you doing today?

Ashlee Hoffmann 1:12
I'm doing really well today, Chris, thanks for asking.

Chris Braden 1:15
Yeah, this is kind of exciting. I get to interview and talk to a bunch of the attorneys there. And we've met in passing and that's kind of the way it's been. I've met probably half of the attorneys but you have some new people I haven't met yet. First of all, what is your primary job at Burnham Law? What do you do?

Ashlee Hoffmann 1:34
Okay, so I'm a civil litigation attorney. That means I work in Burnham Law's, civil litigation division. We don't handle family law. We do and we don't handle criminal law. We essentially do everything else. So we handle any appeals, including family law, appeals, Criminal Appeals, anything that's going to the Court of Appeals. We also do the breach of contract actions, torts, which are like personal injuries, but not the car accidents. So we're talking defamation negligence cases, and pretty much any other issues where people have an issue with someone else and need help with the legal system to solve it.

Chris Braden 2:17
So that's civil law. In a nutshell, that's funny, because I was gonna ask guys be like, alright, for guys like me that don't really know the law. I just follow the law, but I don't know the law. What is it about and that you did a great job explaining that there. So tell me a little bit about yourself. Are you from Colorado, where you're from? What college did you go to? Where'd you go to law school?

Ashlee Hoffmann 2:39
Okay, so I actually was born and raised in Wyoming, a small town in northern Wyoming, so close to Colorado, but not quite. After high school, married my college or high school sweetheart, and we went out to Pittsburgh, for college, tried to get somewhere new somewhere different. We were at Carnegie Mellon out there, spent four years out there. And then a Teach for America recruiter got a hold of me and told me how much of a difference I could make teaching in an underfunded school district for two years. I knew I always wanted to go to law school, but my law school agreed to defer my admission for two years. So I actually taught preschool and was assigned to a preschool in Phoenix, Arizona. So we went out there. I taught preschool for two years. And then I went to law school there. After law school, I clerked for the Court of Appeals in Arizona. And then I worked for a few years at the Attorney General's office down there. My husband and I knew that we always wanted to get back closer to home closer to Wyoming. But we also needed jobs in Colorado had those jobs. My husband's a computer engineer, and there's not a lot of that in Wyoming. So we sold most of our stuff in Arizona, took a year off to go traveling. And then when we settled down we found found our home in Boulder.

Chris Braden 4:03
That's cool. Okay, so I'm gonna dig on that a little bit. So did you go to Arizona State law school or where'd you go in Arizona?

Ashlee Hoffmann 4:10
Yeah. The Sandra Day O'Connor college of law at Arizona State University.

Chris Braden 4:14
Oh, that's pretty good. Sandra Day O'Connor. Everyone knows who that is even me.

Ashlee Hoffmann 4:19
And I met her while I was there.

Chris Braden 4:21
Did you really?

Ashlee Hoffmann 4:22
I did. So she is involved with a Women Law Students Association. And every year the Women Law Students Association would do high tea with Sandra Day O'Connor and she would come and we would have tea and snacks and she would talk about her experience as a female attorney. And as a Supreme Court justice and her interest in really pushing civics now for high school students. And she's a fascinating lady.

Chris Braden 4:49
That's really cool. So did you have to wear the hat?

Ashlee Hoffmann 4:52
I did not. No, I did not wear that hat.

Chris Braden 4:57
So you took a year off to travel. Where'd you go? Do you go do the backpacking Europe thing?

Ashlee Hoffmann 5:02
No, we didn't go to Europe. My husband's brother lives in Europe. So we figured we might be in that vicinity to see our nieces and nephew occasionally. So instead we went to Southeast Asia. We started in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Bali.

Chris Braden 5:23

Ashlee Hoffmann 5:24
Yeah, we spent quite a quite a bit of time over there traveling all around doing it on the cheap. Because we'd quit our jobs. And it was a lot of fun. It was an amazing experience.

Chris Braden 5:33
Did you mostly stay around the beaches?

Ashlee Hoffmann 5:35
No, we actually found ourselves gravitating towards the mountains and the hikes and we likes to hike the highest peaks wherever we were. And we, yeah, one of our favorite memories is catching the sunrise on top of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Chris Braden 5:51
Oh, wow.

Ashlee Hoffmann 5:51
Yeah, we hiked all night.

Chris Braden 5:53
So it's funny you say that you'd like to hike and stuff. And I think most of us when we're young, you grew up in Wyoming. I'm, I'm a Colorado boy, born and bred. And when you get you're that age, you kind of want to leave. But then coming back now that you're, you know, a little bit older in your in your career. Don't you kind of miss what you had when you were a kid? Like that Wyoming open space? All that kind of stuff you had there?

Ashlee Hoffmann 6:21
Absolutely. That's the reason that, you know, after four years in Pittsburgh, and I think nine years in Phoenix, we decided to come closer to home, we missed the wide open spaces missed the mountains. And when you're a kid growing up there, you're, frankly, sometimes bored out of your mind. There just doesn't seem like there's a lot to do. But now that we're here, we love taking advantage of the outdoors. And I realize how lucky we were growing up where we did.

Chris Braden 6:49
No, it's it's really cool. So as far as so you're a civil law attorney. And I know, I don't know if you guys have to choose when you're in law school, what kind of made you lean toward that area of the law.

Ashlee Hoffmann 7:03
So when I was in law school, I did a little bit of everything. I am one of the strange few, I think, who truly enjoyed law school. I loved it. So I was taking criminal law classes, civil law classes, I was in constitutional law classes and did internships and externships. At a variety of places, I went to a prosecutor's office at a public defender's office, I worked for a decent sized law firm in their civil litigation, and even did some tax law there. And then I did an internship at the Arizona House of Representatives. What led me to civil law is really I enjoy the variety of it. And I enjoy the it is a dive into some of the esoteric nature of law. So you get a lot of really interesting questions, a lot of really interesting, we call them fact patterns. But these are normal people who things just went wrong in their life. It doesn't have the the same. I would guess gravitas as criminal law, but you're still talking money, you're talking people's livelihoods. And it's still justice. And that's I think, eventually, what led me here is the idea that I wanted to help people before this, I was working for the government on the Attorney General's office, and I enjoyed it. But I missed interacting with people and having those real human stories. And that's something that I get here in this division.

Chris Braden 8:36
That's really cool. So and it's funny, because like, when you're not in the law, you know, guys like me, we just, you know, your lawyer usually doesn't go any further than that, does it?

Ashlee Hoffmann 8:46
No, no, it's like, oh, wow, you're a lawyer. And that's kind of the end of the conversation. But I am a lawyer, but I'm also someone who, you know, the people who call us up and I tell my clients this, you don't necessarily call up a civil litigation attorney, because everything's going amazing in your life. I get a lot of clients that apologize for being stressed out or apologize for being really anxious. And part of my job is both a counselor at law but in a way a counselor at life and letting them know that there's a lot of people that go through something like this, you're not alone. And I understand that the law can be overwhelming and intimidating, and sometimes incomprehensible. But it's not to me, and I'm there to help them navigate the best way through it, whatever that looks like for them.

Chris Braden 9:35
So I guess the next question I want to ask you is what attracted you to Burnham Law?

Ashlee Hoffmann 9:41
So when we first came to Boulder, my husband had a job. First, I was still working, doing contract work for a firm in Phoenix while I waited for my Colorado license. And we were walking around our neighborhood and I actually saw the Burnham Law firm. And I told my husband I said, Wouldn't it be funny if I ended up where working there because it was so close to where we were living. And then I looked into it and I saw that Burnham Law was primarily family law. And I knew that I wanted to go more towards civil litigation. So I put it on the backburner. And then as I was looking for jobs in the area, I saw a position posted for civil litigation associate at Burnham Law. And it was posted by Aaron. He, in the posting, he talked about how it's a relatively new division, a lot of exciting things going on. But the thing that drew me to applying was Aaron's emphasis on a very high quality professional work product, while having a very relaxed working environment. Essentially, he wants the division to be a place that is great and amazing for people to work, but still known for stellar legal services. And I am someone who's a perfectionist I, like I said, I loved law school. I love diving into the law. I like continually crafting or honing my craft. And Aaron's job posting really spoke to me. So then we had coffee talks about what the job entailed. It turns out Aaron and I are very similar. We have similar expectations for ourselves, we have kind of a similar background in that we both clerked for judges at the court of appeals. So we connected over that. And in talking to him, his vision for the civil litigation division really drew me in and made me excited for this job.

Chris Braden 11:30
So it's funny cuz I, I've talked to Aaron a little bit. He's a really smart guy. And I don't know if I'd ever get into a debate with that guy. Kill me. You know what I mean? He's way smarter than I am.

Ashlee Hoffmann 11:43
He's very intelligent.

Chris Braden 11:44
Yeah, the fact that you guys had so much synergy, like right after the first meeting, you were like, were you like, this is where I want to be?

Ashlee Hoffmann 11:51
Yeah, I was. In fact, as I was walking back home from from coffee, I called my husband up. And I said, This is it. This is where I want to be. And then I waited nervously for the for the callback.

Chris Braden 12:04
That's cool. So now you're an attorney at Burnham Law during the process, when did you have the opportunity to meet Todd for the first time?

Ashlee Hoffmann 12:13
So I actually met Todd for the first time during my second interview. So I got the call back, Aaron said that he'd like me to come into the office and have an interview with Todd and JP and Brittany, who was our paralegal at the time. And so when I went into the office, that was the first time that I met Todd, I was dressed up in a suit ready for my interview. And I think that Todd had just gotten done working out. And so he was in sweatpants, and he told me the first words I think he said to me was, were you were not supposed to see me like this. I was supposed to look more professional. And he goes, I'll see you soon. Forget this ever happened.

Chris Braden 12:51
That sounds like him. Yeah. What were your first impressions of Todd, when you met him?

Ashlee Hoffmann 12:55
I thought that Todd was really

Chris Braden 12:57
Maybe the second time.

Ashlee Hoffmann 12:59
Fair enough. Fair enough. I thought that Todd was really driven and charismatic. What really stood out to me was his passion for the firm and his passion for his vision of the firm. A lot of times in interviews, it's really hard to tell what the interviewer is thinking. They're pretty standard questions, they sit there with a blank look on their face. With Todd, it wasn't like that at all. He's very upfront. His emotions are on his face. And you can read his passion for the firm and for what he's doing and his vision, not just for the legal work, but for the people and the environment and the marketing. So it was kind of it was, I don't want to say overwhelming at first, but it was a really great breath of fresh air to see someone that was so excited and just real, especially during an interview.

Chris Braden 13:48
So Todd runs Burnham Law, like a sports franchise, and I've seen that plays itself out with the teamwork. And the way you guys put together things, do you feel like it's a really good team, and you can kind of call on anybody, anytime you need anything there with any of the other attorneys?

Ashlee Hoffmann 14:08
Absolutely. I think that Todd's vision and emphasis on teamwork permeates the firm. And the civil litigation division is a little different, where Aaron describes us as a firm within the firm. We do our own type of work, really, I work really closely with Aaron and we certainly have synergy and great teamwork between us and on the civil litigation team. But I also don't feel separated from the rest of the firm. Everyone is really supportive. The the firm thrives on being able to pull from the expertise of so many different attorneys. So if I have a civil case that maybe has some criminal law implications, I will call up Jessica Lasky and talk to her about, you know, is this something that my client needs to be concerned about? And same with some of the family law attorneys if they have concerns that in their domestic relations case, there's a possible civil claim, they can call me up, or their client can talk to me about that. And I think that, that adds a lot of value to the client. And it also helps me feel really supported in the work that I do in the firm.

Chris Braden 15:16
So Todd and I have talked about this, the email came out the changes, Todd's gonna be stepping back, he's still going to be a part of it. But things are gonna change a little bit. What are your thoughts on that?

Ashlee Hoffmann 15:28
I think that Todd needs to do what's best for him. And I think that he has built up this firm, you know, and I think he said it in the email that he sent out, he has built it with amazing people who share his vision and share his drive. And so him stepping back from the like leadership role in the firm. It doesn't concern me because Stephanie is just as passionate as he is. And same with Aaron in the Civil Division. Aaron still has that drive. So I think that the firm is benefiting from Todd's initial drive and excitement and energy. Frankly, Todd has a lot of energy. And he's built that into the firm. And the people that are the leaders of the firm now still have that. And Todd's still going to be around in the capacity that he loves, which I think is great for him.

Chris Braden 16:21
No, that's perfect. Well, hey, Ashlee, last thing I want to ask you, how did you get two E's at the end your name because my wife and I named my daughter, Brooke, Ashlee. And she put two, two E's on the end, but I thought it was because she was still under the drugs from having the baby but it looks so awesome. Is that like a family thing for you?

Ashlee Hoffmann 16:42
So it depends on who you ask in my family. I like to think it's because my father's middle name and my grandfather's middle name is Lee, l-e-e. And so it incorporates that kind of family history to it. But I will say it often gets misspelled and there are nice Ashlee's with similar email addresses to mine who often get my emails.

Chris Braden 17:08
That's not always good if you're an attorney.

Ashlee Hoffmann 17:10
No, it's more my personal emails. Not my not my work email. Yeah. She's a very nice lady in Chicago.

Chris Braden 17:19
So there you go. That's cool. Well, hey, Ashlee was awesome talking to you. And I know that Todd and everybody says nothing but great things about you. It was good to finally meet you.

Ashlee Hoffmann 17:30
Thanks, Chris. It was great talking to you too.

Todd Burnham 17:35
Hey, thanks for listening. Make sure you subscribe and until next time, keep getting better.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai