Advocacy · areas of law · Awesome Lawyers · career · family law · law

The Admirable Teresa “Terri” L. Brake never put a Brake on Advocacy

july15brake_drdeathc

I can be a bit dark at times so naturally I find myself asking the question:

What do I want to be remembered for when I die?

Well, in lieu of soaking in my dark thoughts, I chose to read about some of Colorado’s most notable lawyers. Great alternative, eh?  I must admit that reading about this notable woman I’m about to inform you of was none short of a beautiful experience.

As I was reading an old copy of The Colorado Lawyer  from July 2015, I ran across a very inspirational woman by the name of Teresa L. Brake, and reading about her life and work as a death penalty defense attorney definitely gave me some ideas as far as things I would like to be remembered for.

I put my own two cents in my favorite color, pink. (Yeah, I’m typical. #GetOverIt.)

So who was Teresa L. Brake?

Teresa was one of the first women death penalty defense lawyers in the nation and guess what? NONE of her clients were put to death.

THE WAYS OF BRAKE

I believe a lot of Brake’s success can be attributed to her beliefs and ways of being. Below I will highlight some of my favorites mentioned in The Colorado Lawyer article.

Here’s what a colleague, Mike Hener, had to say about her:

“Her insanely good spirits always irritated me, but she made up for it by being devious and smart…”

Per the article, Brake believed in redemption and she always sought to find the good in everyone.

Personally, I think we could always use a bit more of this paradigm in our modern world where finger-pointing and the blame-game seem to be the more common options.

BRAKE IN PRACTICE

So we know what she believed, but how did she show it?

Buy any dress necessary-After the Colorado Department of Corrections refused a visit due to her clothing, Brake did not waste time. She proceeded to go to a store and buy a suitable dress so that she could visit her client on death row. Now that’s what I call determination and true advocacy.

Shows clients true compassion– The word “true” might appear an unnecessary adjective here, but I promise it isn’t. Compassion is easy to fake. I know because I’ve done it.

However, upon her death at the tender age of 50, many of her clients wrote letters about her immense compassion and willingness to spend hours meeting the needs of her clients. She truly believed in the Supreme Court’s words, “All Men Are Created Equal Under the Law.”

Brake’s story is an inspiration to me and definitely makes me want to keep pursuing advocacy and justice in our world. Some of her qualities that I would like to continue cultivating include:

  • Solution-orientedness
  • Showing compassion consistently
  • Seeking out the good in people, and trusting that it’s there!

What do you find most inspiring about Terri Brake?

Let’s talk in the comments!

-Denia

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