Protecting the rights of those whose voices have been silenced: that is what Paula Greisen does as an attorney.
Greisen is a partner at King & Greisen, LLP who specializes in employment litigation, has been named the Best Lawyers® 2020 Litigation – Labor and Employment “Lawyer of the Year” in Denver. Her practice focuses on all aspects of employment discrimination, the advancement and protection of LGBTQ rights, and government abuse of power cases.
One notable case of hers was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The 2018 case started when a cakeshop owner refused to create a wedding cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins due to his religious beliefs. Greisen was the lead trial lawyer representing the gay couple.
“I’m very proud of my involvement. Charlie Craig and David Mullins are still a part of my family,” Greisen said. “It meant a lot to me personally and professionally because I strongly believe in protection of those rights.”
Greisen also represented Lindsay Saunders-Velez, a 20-year-old transgender woman, pro bono in her lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections for “discriminatory and dangerous” conditions. Saunders-Velez was transferred to a men’s prison from a center for female juveniles.
Even with these two high-profile cases, Greisen couldn’t pick which one she was the proudest of.
“We get the privilege to work on cases that have a tremendous impact on someone’s life and emotional well-being,” she said. “In that moment, in that day, [the case at hand] is the most important thing. We give the disenfranchised a voice. Nothing could make me prouder.”
On the flip side, there are challenging aspects to handling cases like these.
“It’s somebody’s well-being and dignity,” she said. “Sometimes there are no ways to heal or help heal through the legal system. The high emotional level makes it challenging but also most rewarding.”
Helping others was something Greisen had learned from a young age, which played a part in her decision to pursue law. Her father was a marine, and her mother was a legal-aid worker.
“Service in one capacity has always been in our family,” Greisen said.
When asked if her compassion is the reason why she was a leader in her field and what she thought makes a great lawyer in that practice area, Greisen could only applaud others in her community.
“I don’t think I’m anymore compassionate than anyone else,” she said. “In this community, we have this amazing group who protect civil rights.”