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Degree Programs

2014 Media Releases

Sturm College of Law to Recognize 2014 Law Stars

Sept. 4, 2014—The University of Denver Sturm College of Law will recognize its Law Stars recipients for 2014 at a gala event on Thursday, Oct. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.

Since 1993, DU Law Stars has celebrated distinguished alumni and faculty, raised funds for the Clinical Programs and the Judicial Fellows Program, and united Denver Law alumni in a celebration of their peers.The event includes a personal commemorative video of each honoree, recounting accomplishments both professional and personal. Learn more about DU’s Law Stars program at

 A reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and honoree video tributes. Members of the media are invited to attend and should RSVP to DU Media Relations at (720) 608-0240 or [email protected].

Receiving awards this year are:

Jack Finlaw, JD’81, Alumni Professionalism Award:

Finlaw is chief legal counsel to Governor John Hickenlooper. At the time of his appointment to this position in 2011, Governor Hickenlooper stated, “Jack Finlaw is a skilled attorney who possesses a unique blend of management experience in business, the non-profit sector and government.” Before joining the governor’s office, Finlaw was Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor Guillermo (Bill) V. Vidal, and had served as deputy chief of staff for then-Mayor Hickenlooper. From 2003 to 2010, Finlaw was director of Denver’s Theatres and Arenas Division. Prior to his government service, Finlaw worked in the cable television industry for almost 20 years as deputy general counsel for Comcast Corporation and as corporate counsel for Jones Intercable, Inc. Finlaw has also served as a board member for VISIT DENVER, Opera Colorado and the Colorado Symphony. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a juris doctorate from the University of Denver.

Theodore Z. Gelt, JD’75, Thompson G. Marsh Award:

Gelt is an adjunct professor at Denver Law and has taught in the Graduate Tax Program for nearly 40 years. He also provides innovative guidance in taxation for both individuals and corporate entities at BakerHostetler in Denver. Gelt advises large individual clients with respect to estate/family planning, tax controversy and criminal tax matters. He advises corporate entities in transactional tax matters and provides counsel and expert testimony for the defense of tax and estate planning. Gelt is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, The National Registry of Who's Who, and, locally, has received 5280 Magazine’s and ColoradoBiz Magazine's 2010 Wealth Manager Five Star Rating. Best Lawyers also named him Denver "Lawyer of the Year" in Litigation and Controversy – Tax in 2013.  Gelt is President of the Board of Yeshiva Toras Chaim and has been involved in numerous other charities over the years.

Gale Norton, JD’78, Outstanding Alumni Award:

Norton has three decades of experience handling energy, natural resources, and environmental issues. As Secretary of the Interior for President George W. Bush from 2001-2006, she played a key role in shaping national energy policies. Norton led efforts that resolved 70-year-old interstate disputes on the Colorado River, instituted a west-wide water conservation program and championed the President's Healthy Forest Initiative and Cooperative Conservation. Norton returned to Colorado as General Counsel for Royal Dutch Shell Unconventional Oil from 2007-2010. As an attorney, Norton has handled many high-profile cases, including arguing before the US Supreme Court and negotiating one of the largest lawsuit settlements in history. Norton served two terms as the elected Attorney General of Colorado, 1991-1999. She is currently president of Norton Regulatory Strategies and a director of American Transmission Company.

Professor Stephen Pepper, Robert B. Yegge Excellence in Teaching Award:

Pepper has published many well-known law review articles on lawyers’ ethics and on freedom of religion under the First Amendment. Professor Pepper graduated from Stanford University “with great distinction” and his law degree is from Yale Law School, where he won first place in the Thurman Arnold appellate advocacy competition and was a finalist in the Cardozo brief writing competition. He practiced for four years with the Denver firm of Holland & Hart. Pepper has given presentations at numerous academic conferences and meetings of practicing lawyers, regularly teaches the first-year Torts course, the required Legal Profession course, and a seminar on professional ethics. The students at the College of Law have selected him “Professor of the Year” four times.