Pete Willis, JD'68
Outstanding Alumni Award - 2007
A Colorado native, Peter Willis grew up a natural athlete and outdoors enthusiast. Hailing from a tight family circle, Pete participated in speech, Latin, music, 4-H, sports and church clubs in high school before heading off to Northwestern University in 1958. After working his way through college, Pete returned to Colorado where he landed a job with Tenneco Oil Company, a position which piqued his interest in the law. In 1964 Pete was accepted into the University of Denver College of Law night program, and in 1966 was awarded the American Jurisprudence award for the Most Significant Contribution to Overall Legal Scholarship by then Dean Robert Yegge. Pete began his extraordinary law career as an intern at the Denver District Attorneys office, where he eventually became an Assistant District Attorney in Denver, pioneering the revision of organized crime codes in Colorado. In 1973, Pete opened his own practice with Jon Holm, the firm expanded to become Holm, Willis and Dill. In 1980, Pete began working for Mountain Bell, where he handled civil litigation and was involved in the historic Department of Justice vs. AT&T case, which led to the reorganization of the telecommunications industry. Pete was promoted to General Counsel of Litigation/Risk Management for the newly formed U.S. West Communications, a position in which he was responsible for all litigation for U.S. West and its approximately thirty subsidiaries operating around the country and internationally. One of his many endeavors during this period of time was involvement in the formation of Western Range Insurance Company, where he served as president for one year. Pete began working at Kutak Rock in 1994, where he continues to practice to this day. An avid community volunteer, Pete has lent his time and expertise to many organizations, including the Littleton Historical Museum Board, the Littleton United Methodist Church, the Griffith Center for Children Board of Directors, the American Arbitration Association National Panel, and Christian Living Campus, Inc. Pete was appointed by former Governor Bill Owens to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission and also serves as a Director on the Board of the Colorado Judicial Institute. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and again as a Fellow of the Colorado Bar Association. He has been recognized as a Colorado Super Lawyer by 5280 Magazine and was recognized by the Denver Business Journal as one of the top 10 lawyers in their 2006 Power Book. Pete is married to Rosemary Willis and has three children, Matt, Mark and Katherine.