Greeley, Colorado – Attorney Timothy R. Odil named one of Colorado’s “Lawyers of the Year”

???????????Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC is proud to announce that attorney Timothy R. Odil was recently named one of Colorado’s “Lawyers of the Year” by Law Week Colorado

Odil was selected based on his excellent work on a variety of litigation matters and his demonstrated initiative and teamwork.  The prestigious honor, which Law Week announces annually in December, recognizes Colorado lawyers who have displayed legal excellence and made news throughout the year. Receiving this distinction as a “Lawyer of the Year” reflects the high level of respect Odil has earned among other leading attorneys in the community and in similar practice areas for his abilities, his professionalism, and his integrity. Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as a “Lawyer of the Year,” making this award particularly significant.

Odil is a key member of the firm’s litigation team. His practice focuses on disputes among private parties as well as disputes with local, state, or federal government agencies. He handles complex commercial litigation and appeals, government and commercial contract negotiation and disputes, regulatory compliance, licensing, and rulemaking issues, as well as employment law matters.  As OBP Partner Jennifer Lynn Peters noted, “In addition to handling a large complex litigation caseload, Tim stepped into the firm in the midst of big change, and in a year helped us build our litigation department from two to six lawyers, and the firm from two to 11 lawyers. His mentorship of the younger associates on our litigation team and his pure legal ability were unmatched this year.”

High pressure litigation isn’t anything new to Odil who practiced with a large national law firm for 8 years before he returned to Greeley to join the newly formed Otis, Bedingfield & Peters. Within his first year of starting at OBP Odil had upward of 10 active trial matters, including the notable High Plains Library District trustee removal litigation, which received significant news coverage earlier this year.  Odil helped the High Plains Library District secure an injunction that blocked the removal of the District’s entire Board of Trustees. This case is particularly high-profile because it pitted members of a handful of Northern Colorado communities against one another in an effort to control the District’s policies, organizational infrastructure, and budgeting processes.

The firm congratulates Odil on this well-deserved honor.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC advocates for individuals, businesses, and families in the Northern Colorado region. Our clients are landowners, business owners, business professionals, businesses of all sizes, and individual families in need of guidance or representation in court proceedings involving commercial real estate or business issues. OBP routinely handles matters in the areas of real estate law, business law, environmental law, oil and gas law, estate planning, commercial litigation, probate and trust litigation, appeals, and tax law. For more information, please visit www.nocoattorneys.com or contact Managing Partner Jennifer Lynn Peters at 970.330.6700.

Tim Odil Named a Lawyer of the Year

On December 15, 2014, Law Week Colorado named OBP commercial litigation attorney Tim Odil one of its Lawyers of the Year.  The honor is in recognition of Tim’s superior work this past year in both the trial court and the appellate court.  Congratulations Tim!

Read more at Law Week Online or check out our Facebook or Google+ page.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC Welcomes Attorney Brandy Natalzia

Attorney Brandy Natalzia

Attorney Brandy E. Natalzia recently relocated to Northern Colorado from Florida.  She is a former judicial intern for the Honorable Jay Cohen of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Marcia Morales Howard of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.  Brandy graduated, cum laude, from the University of North Florida, where she obtained her bachelor of arts degree in communication.  She obtained her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law, where she served as the managing editor of the Florida Coastal Law Review.

Prior to joining Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, Brandy was an associate attorney with a small law firm in Jacksonville, Florida, and worked as a legal project manager.  Prior to law school, she worked for a national homebuilder for whom she prepared and implemented a successful training program for new home sales and dealt exclusively with contract preparation and negotiation.

“We are excited to bring an attorney like Brandy on board,” says Timothy P. Brynteson, managing member of OBP’s Loveland office.  “Her background and experience will enhance our ability to serve the Northern Colorado business community.”

Brandy’s practice at the firm will focus on real estate and business transactions, including the preparation, review and negotiation of contracts and entity formation.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC welcomes attorney Christian J. Schulte

ChristianSchulteAttorney Christian J. Schulte is a long-time resident of Greeley, and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia where he was awarded the National Merit Scholarship. Christian received his law degree at the University of Colorado School of Law in 1997, where he was an Associate Editor of the University of Colorado Law Review.

Prior to joining Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, Christian was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in the Weld County District Attorney’s office. Over his nearly twenty years in criminal prosecution, he handled hundreds of criminal cases as the lead trial attorney, and he trained numerous other attorneys in criminal law and the art of trial practice. Most recently, he was assigned to prosecute white collar and other serious economic crimes, including mortgage fraud, embezzlement, securities fraud and financial crimes against at-risk adults, particularly the victimization of the elderly by those in a position of trust.

Christian has been a board member and board chair of A Kid’s Place, and a board member of Island Grove Treatment Center and North Range Behavioral Health. He has taught law enforcement, high school and college students, and the general public about constitutional law, attorney ethics, elder abuse, mortgage fraud and other topics.

“We are thrilled to have an attorney of Christian’s caliber join our litigation team. Christian’s trial experience and his previous focus on business issues and the financial exploitation of the elderly will serve our clients well,” says Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC managing member Jennifer Lynn Peters.

Mr. Schulte’s practice at the firm will focus on complex commercial litigation, probate litigation and appeals.

Northern Colorado law firms Bedingfield, LLC and Otis & Peters, LLC merge

Attorneys Fred L. Otis, Jeff Bedingfield and Jennifer Lynn Peters are excited to announce the merger of their firms effective October 1, 2014.  The combined firm, Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC, will be home to ten attorneys and ten support staff spread across the firm’s two offices in Loveland and Greeley

“This merger strengthens our business law presence with a team of attorneys who are perfectly aligned with us,” said managing member Jennifer Lynn Peters, who added:  “There are considerable synergies between the two firms.  We share a commitment to excellence, building personal relationships, and to Northern Colorado.  Combining will allow us to further that commitment and to serve our clients with exceptional efficiency.”

The combined firm will provide clients throughout Northern Colorado practical and solutions-based legal representation in real estate and business matters, including commercial litigation, appeals, employment, environmental, oil and gas, estate planning, business succession, and tax matters. 

“We have had long standing working relationships with Otis & Peters,” said member Jeff Bedingfield.  “We look forward to working together with them to offer our clients the added resources and expertise this merger brings.”

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC will be home to the following attorneys:

Fred L. Otis, Member

Jeffrey T. Bedingfield, Member

Jennifer Lynn Peters, Member

Timothy P. Brynteson, Member

John A. Kolanz, Member

Michael D. Stewart, Of Counsel

Timothy R. Odil, Senior Associate

Lee J. Morehead, Associate

Myles S. Johnson, Associate

 

Attorney Christian J. Schulte, will join the firm as a senior associate on October 16, 2014.

Attorney Michael D. Stewart joins Otis & Peters, LLC

Weld County Attorney Michael D. StewartOtis & Peters, LLC is pleased to announce that attorney Michael D. Stewart has joined the firm as of counsel. 

Mr. Stewart is a native of Weld County, Colorado, an avid photographer, and a former partner of founding member Fred L. Otis.  He received both his business degree, magna cum laude, and his law degree from the University of Colorado. Mr. Stewart is also a veteran of the United States Army. 

“We are excited that Mike has come to back to practice with us,” says Otis & Peters, LLC managing member Jennifer Lynn Peters.  “Working with an attorney of Mike’s caliber is of tremendous value to our clients and our entire team.” 

In addition to his work with Otis & Peters, LLC, Mr. Stewart serves as the Municipal Court Judge for the cities of Evans, Garden City, Gilcrest, and Platteville.  He was previously a prosecutor and later a Municipal Court Judge for the City of Greeley, and has taught real estate law at Aims Community College. 

Mr. Stewart’s practice with Otis & Peters, LLC focuses on all areas of real estate and business transactions.

 

Wild Turkey Times

It’s hard not to think about turkeys this time of year. This is especially true around our office, where we have had a wild turkey living in and around our parking lot for the past several months. He’s become such a fixture around here that he’s been given an affectionate name: Bubbles. I’m not sure where that name comes from, except perhaps that our staff is either very friendly (which they are) or that’s their way of honoring the “no one curses around Jennifer” rule and so they refer to the tiny green blobs they have to walk around on their way into our office as “bubbles” and the name stuck. Whatever its derivation, over the past several months we have all grown attached to Bubbles and learned a thing or two about wild turkeys along the way.

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We now know, for instance, that wild turkeys can in fact fly.

Bubbles can often be spotted high among the trees that line our parking lot. We learned that seeing a wild turkey like Bubbles was not a unique occurrence in Greeley. Our fair city is home to a flock of wild turkeys who can often be seen gathering around the Poudre River Trail in West Greeley. Last year, a flock of wild turkeys held up traffic on Highway 85 on the east side of town. Apparently, wild turkeys are a thing, like Texas, that you just don’t mess with.

We don’t know if the rest of the wild turkeys that call Greeley home are as entertaining as Bubbles, but we have learned from Bubbles not to think of all turkeys as a part of the local school play or our Thanksgiving dinners. Bubbles has taught us that wild turkeys have personality.

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They apparently like to hang out on top of cars, in the backs of pickup trucks, and when the mood strikes, will play “chicken” with the people coming in and out of our office. We’ve watched Bubbles hide behind bushes, jump fences, and sit quietly watching his own reflection in our glass entry doors. Each day, we’ve all had an encounter with Bubbles, and wondered as Thanksgiving grew closer whether Bubbles would live to see it.

I’m glad to report he did. He was seen relaxing high up in a tree outside of Fred’s office just yesterday afternoon.

If you had told me last year that one of the things I’d be thankful for this year was to see a wild turkey after Thanksgiving, I would have laughed at you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for a whole host of things this year: my family, especially my brother and legal assistant Mike who turns 30 today (Happy Birthday Little Brother!), my friends (both of you), my business partner and mentor Fred L. Otis, our great staff Leigh, Pam, Candace, Mike, and Nate, and our new colleagues Tim and Cindy. I’m thankful for old mining roads in the San Juan Mountains, that the Avalanche have won 19 games, that Eli Manning finally remembered how to throw a touchdown to his own receiver and thus revived my fantasy football team (the Ghost Busters), and for new episodes of Homeland. But this year, I was also thankful to see a wild turkey survive Thanksgiving. And for what that wild turkey taught me.

You see, before Bubbles, turkeys to me were things we ate on Thanksgiving, and the drivers who cut me off on my way to court. Wild Turkey was something to enjoy in the company of good friends, not dodge as you walk to your car when you leave work. (Although it should be noted that not every tan colored liquid in my glass at the end of the work day is Wild Turkey…more often than not I prefer a simple Diet Snapple.)

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These encounters with Bubbles over the past several months has helped put things in perspective for me. Bubbles reminded me to check my perceptions at the door and to not judge something or someone based on what I knew about it previously. Such a change in perception can be an invaluable tool in a litigator’s toolbox, whether used to reevaluate a complex business dispute or to find a better, more compelling way to tell the client’s story in an appellate brief. Like most creative personalities, I find inspiration hits me in the strangest places and when I least expect it. I first discovered my creative side had a part to play in my complex litigation practice a few years ago when I was scouring an old bookstore in Amarillo, Texas, worrying about how I was going to get a witness I was about to depose to give me the information I needed when it hit me as I was skimming a new poetry book how many times my legal career had given me an opportunity to rely on my creative side to get the right results: the better closing argument, the creative cross-examination, the simple story that tied it all together, the off-beat strategy that might throw a deponent expecting a typical, organized attorney off just enough to get to the truth. That was a defining moment for me because it led me to embrace my creative side in my legal practice, and better results and a happier, more productive and efficient litigation practice followed.

It is often ironic where the idea that becomes the crux of a case or that will form the theme of the case will come from, but it is usually from an unexpected source: like an encounter with a wild turkey in the parking lot of your office.

Attorney Tim Odil Joins Otis & Peters, LLC Litigation Team

Attorney Tim Odil

Otis & Peters, LLC is pleased to welcome attorney Timothy R. Odil to our team.

Mr. Odil is an experienced commercial litigation attorney. A former associate in the Denver office of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a well-known international law firm, Mr. Odil began his legal career as a law clerk in the Weld County Courts, where he clerked for now-retired District Court judges J. Robert Lowenbach and Daniel S. Maus.

“We are excited to have an attorney of Tim’s caliber come back to the Northern Colorado community and join our team,” says Otis & Peters, LLC managing member Jennifer Lynn Peters.

Recognized as a Colorado Rising Star by Law & Politics, Mr. Odil has successfully defended entrepreneurs in business litigation involving claims of breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, patent infringement, breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA and employment disputes, regulatory and licensing violations, campaign finance issues, and numerous claims for injunctive relief. Among his notable engagements, Mr. Odil successfully prosecuted a declaratory judgment action against the United States government challenging the government’s erroneous claim of ownership of a contractor’s production line, and successfully challenged a Colorado county’s mining regulations. He also has significant experience in presenting his clients’ interests in rulemaking proceedings before local and state regulators in the power, mining, healthcare, and government services industries.  Mr. Odil has represented financial institutions and corporations in construction litigation, mechanics’ lien disputes, insurance disputes, and collection matters. He has also assisted banks and corporate clients in receivership and foreclosure matters involving commercial properties, and represented creditors, lien claimants, loan servicers, and receivers in related matters.

A native of Colorado, Mr. Odil received his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he was a member of the National Moot Court Traveling Team and the Transportation Law Journal. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, where he minored in Entrepreneurship and Management. He is licensed to practice law in Colorado, the U.S. District Court for the Districts of Colorado and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits.

Mr. Odil’s practice focuses on disputes among private parties as well as disputes with local, state, or federal government agencies. He handles complex commercial litigation and appeals; government and commercial contract negotiation and disputes; regulatory compliance, licensing, and rulemaking issues; and employment law matters.

Welcome to the New Age

On November 18, 2013 my partner, Fred L. Otis, and I opened the doors to our new law firm, Otis & Peters, LLC. Well, we opened the same door we’ve opened for the past 12 years, but the name on the door changed officially. You see, Otis & Peters, LLC is not so much a new venture for Fred and I as it is a return to what we love most: a focus on the practice, rather than the business, of law.

Fred and I share the same belief that sometimes, bigger is not always better. This is not to say that we don’t believe businesses should grow or that we don’t plan to grow our firm: we do. We just believe that to provide the highest quality of legal services in the personal manner Fred and I are known for, the optimum size of a law firm is smaller and more focused on the clients and the law than anything else.

We are excited about what the future holds at Otis & Peters, LLC. We have been blessed to have our core staff remain with us and to have loyal clients who are making this transition with us. We see the beginning of Otis & Peters, LLC as an opportunity to retool and rebuild, much like a new coach of a professional sports team. As an avid Colorado Avalanche fan, I, like thousands others, have enjoyed watching the resurgence of our young hockey team under the leadership of Patrick Roy. As the new head coach, Roy brought his philosophy and applied it to a team of core players supported by new talent. The mantra at the Pepsi Center this season is Welcome to the New Age, based on the hit song Radioactive by Luke Malink. Otis & Peters is enjoying our own similar New Age.

We are refocusing, applying our philosophy, and rebuilding with a crop of new talent. Exciting things are coming for Otis & Peters, LLC. Stay tuned.

The Business Judgment Rule: The First Line of Defense

BY JENNIFER LYNN PETERS, ESQ.
As the economy plunged and debtors looked for ways to avoid paying their obligations to lenders across the country, the courts saw an explosion of cases alleging breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and other “mismanagement” by directors, officers, and/or managers of financial institutions and other entities. A growing number of such claims by shareholders and others affected by the closure of a financial institution are also being filed. So what is a director, officer, or manager to do when faced with such claims? Often, the legal doctrine known as the Business Judgment Rule can provide the best, most effective, and first line of defense.

The Business Judgment Rule is a legal presumption that provides that so long as a director or officer of a company is disinterested, has acted on an informed basis, in good faith, and with an honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the company, the decisions made are not subject to challenge. In adopting the Business Judgment Rule, the Colorado Supreme Court described it as follows: the “business judgment doctrine bars judicial inquiry into the actions of [a manager] taken in good faith and in the exercise of honest judgment in furtherance of a lawful and legitimate corporate purpose.” Hirsch v. Jones Intercable, Inc., 984 P.2d 629 (Colo. 1999). When the Business Judgment Rule applies, decisions and actions of disinterested directors and officers will not be disturbed or questioned by a court if they can be attributed to “any rational business purpose.” Aronson v. Lewis, 473 A.2d 805, 812 (Del. 1984). The rule is meant to preclude a court from imposing its own judgment on the business and affairs of a company.

In order to demonstrate that the Business Judgment Rule applies, an officer, director, or manager must generally show three things. First, it must be shown that the officer, director, or manager is independent or disinterested. This typically involves a review of the financial interests of the officer, director, or manager whose actions are being challenged to show she did not have a financial interest in the underlying transaction. Second, it must be shown that the decision being challenged was made in good faith. This usually involves a simple showing that there was a reason for the decision or action and what the stated motivation for the decision or action was. Third, it must be shown that the decision or action was “informed” or exercised with “due care.” This typically requires some evidence that there was a reasonable effort to ascertain and consider all relevant information prior to the decision being made or action being taken.

It is important to keep in mind that the Business Judgment Rule does not apply where a director, officer, or manager being sued is shown to have an interest, usually a financial stake of some sort, in the transaction in dispute. A director, officer, or manager is not “disinterested” if they either stand on both sides of a transaction or expect to derive a personal financial benefit from it. In other words, if the director, officer, or manager is engaged in self-dealing, she cannot claim the benefit of the Business Judgment Rule as a defense to claims of mismanagement. However, self-interest alone is not sufficient to disqualify an officer, director, or manager from using the Business Judgment Rule as a defense. Merely alleging complete dominion or control over business decisions is also not enough to defeat the Business Judgment Rule. There must be evidence that there was disloyalty to the organization, and that the benefit received was material or significant, rather than minimal. Thus, where it is shown by some tangible evidence that a director, officer, or manager either received or could have received a direct and substantial benefit from the transaction, the Business Judgment Rule will not be available as a defense.

Under the Business Judgment Rule, the mere fact that, in hindsight, an officer, director, manager, or management group made a bad decision or a mistake is not sufficient to challenge that decision or allege breach of fiduciary duty or other mismanagement claims. Courts acknowledge that, while shareholders might disagree with a management decision, and while it may be apparent in hindsight that the decision was wrong, the decision can withstand an attack because it was made in good faith by disinterested persons. In the absence of fraud or bad faith, the Business Judgment Rule thus often provides a complete defense to rising claims of breach of fiduciary or other obligations being levied against directors, officers, and managers.

LEARN MORE ABOUT JENNIFER LYNN PETERS, ESQ. >>


This article was published in the September/October 2011 edition of The Independent Report, the official newsletter of the Independent Bankers of Colorado and the June 2012 edition of the Colorado Bar Association Business Law Section Newsletter.