Finding the optimal solutions

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Alumni Network, Alumni Profiles, Winter 2021 | 0 comments

As one of the 22 judges sitting on the Colorado Court of Appeals, Terry Fox ’89 spends her days mentoring young lawyers and those aspiring to be judges, advocating for greater gender and racial diversity in Colorado’s judicial system and, of course, hearing cases. Fox, who is 28 years into a varied and exceptional law career, said the rigor she experienced at Mines helped prepare her for the hard work and discipline it takes to succeed on the bench.

Fox started out as an environmental engineer at Vista Chemical Company in 1989, where she worked with an in-house lawyer regarding the federal, state and local laws that governed her work, sparking her interest in law. Fox, who has a natural curiosity and love for learning, would take the regulations home, read them and come back to work asking more questions. “Engineering is about a spectrum of options. It’s about asking, ‘What is the optimal solution for this particular set of problems?’” Fox said. “Law is a lot of the same.”

Fox completed law school by night while working as an environmental engineer by day, then went on to work for the Texas Supreme Court. After practicing law at a large firm with a natural resources group and both state and federal attorney’s offices, she was nominated to a judicial position on the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2010. Throughout her career, Fox has worked to help increase diversity on the bench. “Years before I ever considered becoming a judge, I was always very interested in helping women and minorities who wanted to be judges,” Fox said.

As part of her service with the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, she chaired the Judicial Committee, which supports women applying for judicial positions in the state. Fox also served on the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association’s Nominations and Endorsements Committee “to advocate for qualified Hispanics who want to become judges,” she said.

Fox also served on Colorado’s First Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission for six years, recommending trial judges for Jefferson and Gilpin counties to the governor. A longtime resident of Jefferson County, she said, “It’s important for the bench to represent the community I live in.”

These days, Fox’s advocacy focuses more on mentorship. “I always have time for coffee. I always have time to look at somebody’s judicial application,” she said. “While serving as a commissioner, I saw a lot of applications. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and that’s something that I’m happy to share.”

When asked about what the future holds, Fox talked about how much she loves the work she’s currently doing. “I deeply care about applying the law fairly and equally,” she said. “[As state judges], our decisions affect Coloradoans every day and every part of the state. What I do, I plan to continue doing as long as Coloradoans allow me to do it.”