Andrea Bryan, the assistant city attorney for Aspen, is leaving a position she once considered to be her dream job at the end of August.
In a conversation Wednesday, Bryan, who will depart the public sector for a private law practice, stressed that not only do dreams change but so do personal circumstances.
“I have another dream job closer to home,” she said by phone, briefly interrupting a family vacation to speak to the press.
Starting in September, she’ll join the legal team of Garfield & Hecht at its new Carbondale office. Other than a short stint, post-graduation from the University of Colorado at a civil litigation firm, this is her first foray into the private sector.
Since 2016, Bryan has worked closely with City Attorney Jim True, having succeeded Debbie Quinn, who retired that year as the assistant city attorney. Before that, Bryan worked nearly eight years in the 9th Judicial District, which serves three counties, as a deputy district attorney first in Glenwood Springs before moving to the Pitkin County office.
“Andrea has been a great asset to the city,” True said Wednesday. “She is an extremely intelligent individual, and I relied on her intelligence and judgment. She will be hard to replace, but I wish her well in her new endeavors and along with the rest of the city, will miss her as part of our team.”
True started with the city of Aspen, in the position Bryan will be leaving, in 2007.
Bryan called True “an incredible mentor” which she said owes to his “immense experience in all areas of law. He does that job with so much composure.”
Asked what was the highlight of her tenure as Aspen’s assistant city attorney, Bryan didn’t hesitate for a moment: “Arguing in front of the Colorado Supreme Court Aspen’s bag fee.”
She said, “I think we had a good case. I do think my predecessor [Quinn] briefed it well in the lower courts.” Bryan also was able to utilize her oral advocacy and written advocacy skills honed in the district attorney’s office before the court.
The position was posted July 30 on the city of Aspen’s website, and the deadline for the first review of applications is 5 p.m. on Aug. 14. “This recruitment may close at any time without notice after the first review date,” the job post reads.
The position has many facets and includes advising council, city departments and boards and commissions.
“This position has responsibility for prosecuting code violations in Municipal Court and representing the City of Aspen in other state and federal courts. The ideal candidate will present the ability to work independently, establish priorities, and maintain a high level of organization,” it notes.
The position is also responsible for “researching legal problems and makes recommendations on actions, inactions and decisions of City Council, City Department and boards and commissions.”
Three to five years of experience as a practicing attorney are among the minimum requirements. The pay range is $54.12 to $76.04 per hour.
Shorter commute is welcome
Like many others in the valley, the country, and probably the world, the pandemic has caused great reflection and a reordering of what’s most important. So, too, did the addition of her second child, who was born about halfway through Bryan’s stint as assistant city attorney.
“COVID causes you to reassess your priorities,” she said.
The eight hours per week Bryan spent commuting from her home in Carbondale to her Aspen office sliced into family time and appears to be another factor in the job switch.
So when an opening at Garfield & Hecht’s midvalley office became available, she decided to throw her hat into the ring. The new position will allow her to continue working in municipal law and civil litigation.
The Garfield & Hecht office is also closer to Mount Sopris Montessori School in Carbondale, where her 4-year-old and 2-year-old attend preschool.
Joining the firm where her husband, Chris Bryan, has long been established “won’t be weird to either of us,” she said. “There are a lot of attorneys at the firm. There’s not going to be much crossover, and I won’t directly report to him.
“My husband and I have always enjoyed working in the same field, and I look forward to being able to collaborate with him and the other talented attorneys at Garfield and Hecht.”
She will report to the firm’s founder and managing shareholder Ron Garfield, who couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.