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Q&A with the new DBA Young Lawyers Division Leadership

Jessica Cordero

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.
My name is Jessica Isabel Cordero, Esq. I am a first-generation Hispanic college and legal graduate. After working in Big Law, I discovered my passion for building bridges between majority groups and underrepresented diverse communities. Therefore, I started a diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm at JCordero Consulting Solutions, LLC. At JCCS, I partner with organizations and professionals as they navigate moral and ethical challenges, manage stress, and overcome communication barriers to build better and more sustainable practices.

I am also a board member at the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association Foundation and a mentorship, C-PTSD, and LQBTQ+ advocate.

What has been one of your most memorable DBA experiences?
As the first person in my family to enter the legal field, or any professional field for that matter, I was overwhelmed and fearful of joining the legal community. During my first year of law school, I attended a DBA mixer to face these fears and break the ice. As soon as the DBA-YLD members struck up a conversation with me, all of my initial fears dissipated. It was the first time I thought that I could actually be a part of this community, that I could add value and belong somewhere. It was truly a memorable experience.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Win or lose, you only fail when you stop trying.” As a recovering perfectionist, I perceived any loss, critique, and criticism as a complete failure. However, this advice helped me see that any perceived loss was actually a lesson, which in turn, is a gain.

Josh Mangiagli

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.
I grew up in Denver and graduated from Denver East High School before going to college at the University of Vermont where I studied political science. After college, I moved to New Orleans to teach middle school social studies, and met my wife, Hilary (who taught in the classroom next to mine). We have two kids — Theo and Lark.

In 2018, I graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. I am now an attorney at Alderman Bernstein where my practice focuses on eminent domain law, real estate litigation, and real estate transactions.

What has been one of your most memorable DBA experiences?
My most memorable DBA experience was participating in the 2020 Roll Out the Barrels campaign to help raise money for Metro Caring. It was incredible to see law firms across Denver come together to help end hunger in the Denver metro area. It was also my first experience volunteering as an attorney and helped me realize the many ways attorneys can have a positive impact in their community. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Marika Rietsema Ball

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.
I practice in corporate, securities, and business transactions, as well as trusts and estates law at Jones & Keller, P.C. I’m a 2018 graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. I also serve as the chair-elect of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness’ YLD, co-treasurer of the Colorado Pledge to Diversity, and as a member of the planning committee for the Colorado Diverse Attorney Community Circle program. If I weren’t a lawyer, I would be a lighthouse keeper. My favorite hobbies are hiking, knitting, and hanging out with my husband, Mike, and my dog, George.

What has been one of your most memorable DBA experiences?
Before becoming actively involved with the DBA, I was lucky enough to collaborate with the executive committee of the DBA YLD on a virtual event called the Jeffersonian Dinner. The executive committee members were extremely inclusive and wonderful to work with. It truly showed me the heart of the DBA YLD and their commitment to the Denver legal community. It made me want to be a part of their organization.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Collect a board of directors — these are your professional mentors and peers who help guide you through your career decisions. My BOD has been the best thing to happen to my career and I attribute much of my success to their guidance.

Jessica Dowty

Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.
I am originally from Kansas City and come from a very large, blended family with 12 kids. I received my undergraduate degree in finance and marketing from NYU, and my J.D. and LL.M in taxation from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. After working for an aviation law firm for a few years in KC, I joined Kutak Rock in the Tax Credits Group in Denver. I enjoy hiking with my husband and two dogs whenever we get the chance, travelling and exploring new places, and spending time with our family and friends.

What has been one of your most memorable DBA experiences?
As someone that moved to Denver in July 2019 as a lateral transfer to a new firm, I haven’t had much opportunity at this point to be a part of the DBA, but that was one of the main reasons I wanted to join the YLD Executive Board. I love meeting new people, and I figured this would be a great way to get involved with the Denver legal community and make new connections.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
This is a hard one. I have had so many supportive mentors throughout my life, and I feel like I have gained valuable advice that has helped me shape my life and my goals from each and every one of them. I think some advice that I try to live by is to focus on the positives. Things are not always easy, but if you keep a positive mindset and look for the solution instead of focusing on the weight of the problem, then you can find a way to move forward.

Want to find out more about the DBA YLD? Visit DBAYounglawers.com for details on how to get involved and upcoming events. You can also reach out to Elizabeth Akalin at eakalin@cobar.org.
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