Editor's note: This is the last in a three-part series introducing the new attorneys working in the 5th Judicial District.
BRECKENRIDGE - As general counsel for a small company that held the Spicy Pickle franchise brand, Jeff Patty had to deal with the tougher side of corporate law.
"We were a small company with a lot of the big boy problems," he said.
But when the recession caught up with the company - most of the Spicy Pickle locations in Colorado have been closed - Patty found himself faced with an opportunity to get out of the office and into a different kind of law.
"This is a big change," he said. "The other job was great, but I was only in the office and I was on the phone and on the computer all day. I was reading these huge regulatory pieces. I wanted to be on my feet, arguing in front of a court and particularly, doing something that had a little more meaning to me."
Patty joined the District Attorney's office as a deputy prosecutor handling misdemeanor cases in January, when newly elected DA Bruce Brown brought in a new crew of deputies.
It is a job Patty has been chasing for years.
"I wanted to be in the courtroom," he said. "My last semester of law school I applied up here for this job, but I hadn't taken the bar yet. They filled the position before I had the bar completed."
But the private-industry job cropped up soon after, and was the kind of position most new attorneys would jump at. Patty took it, but kept his eyes open for opportunities to move into criminal law.
Eight years later, Patty is now able to spend as many as four or more days per week in the courtroom handling county court matters, although he says he hasn't had a trial yet.
In the meantime, he and his family are settling into Summit County, a place he says he would like to remain for years to come.
"I know from talking with folks up here and everywhere, the opinions are the same," he said. "There's no better place to live and it will be difficult to find a community that's quite like this."
Patty was born in Louisiana, but raised in Texas where he completed high school in Texas after his father was transferred. He spent his teenage years in a Abilene, a city of 100,000 surrounded by tiny rural towns. It was a setting that reminds him of Summit County.
But he didn't grow up wanting to be a lawyer.
"When I was in middle school I was going to be an astronaut," he said. "Once I got past the height limit, that dream was crushed. So I became an attorney."
He attended law school at Regent University in Virginia Beach before moving to the Denver area, where he'd dreamed of living since childhood.
In his new post he's in the midst of a learning curve that comes with transitioning between areas of the law, and said right now, he's focused on pursuing his job with excellence.
"To see that those that are unfortunately victims in our community have a voice and are able to attain some measure of justice ... and to see those that did what they did are brought to justice, there's a great satisfaction that you can be part of a system that tries to do anything we can to right the wrongs," he said.