Dolores Atencio

(303) 871-6572

Current Affiliations & Memberships

  • National Association of Women Lawyers | Member, Supreme Court Committee
  • Consortium of Women in the Law, Member | University of Texas Law at Austin
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law Alumni Council, Vice Chair | Chair, DU Latino Law Alumni Chapter
  • Hispanic National Bar Association | Latina Commission, life-long member
  • Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, Member 
DULCCES Visiting Scholar; University of Denver Latino Center for Community Engagement & Scholarship

B.A. Colorado College
J.D. University of Denver College of Law


A Colorado native, Dolores has held positions within and outside the legal profession.  She started as a Reggie Fellow with Colorado Rural Legal Services, practiced appellate law at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and was a state Administrative Law Judge.  Dolores held several management positions including Development Director for public radio station KUVO, 89.3FM, Director of Legal and Public Services for the Colorado Bar Association and Vice President & General Counsel for the Denver Grand Prix Auto Race, Inc., becoming one of the first Latina managers in the Indy car racing industry.  Dolores was in private practice for 17 years, specializing in employment litigation until 2012.  From 2013-2014, Dolores taught and was Scholar in Residence at DU Women’s College where she conducted additional research on Latina lawyers and produced the first two published pieces on the history and accomplishments of Latina lawyers.

In February 2015, Dolores became the first Visiting Scholar for DU Latino Center for Community Engagement & Scholarship (DULCCES) where she founded Luminarias de la Ley | Luminaries of the Law,™  a national legal history project on the first Hispanic female law graduates and lawyers during a 100-year period, from 1880-1980 (“Luminarias”).  For the past three years, she conducted research among the 177 ABA-approved law schools to identify all Luminarias.  Currently, she is completing a law review article about the research/results, projected for fall publication. 

The Luminarias Exhibit, which she created in November 2015, adds the missing chapter on Latina lawyers that consists of 65 panels chronicling women’s progression in the law with select Luminarias panel vignettes interspersed throughout the decades.  The exhibit starts with the U.S. Supreme Court case of Bradwell v. Illinois (1873) which upheld the exclusion of women from admission to the bar and ends in 1980 with the appointment of the first Latina U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  The exhibit is being shown at law schools throughout the nation.  The digitized exhibit will be available online in 2019.  

Dolores is past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Colorado Hispanic Bar Association (CHBA).  She was the first Co-Chair of the HNBA Latina Commission.  Under her tenure, the Latina Commission published the first two national studies on Latina lawyers, revived the Las Primeras Research Project she started in 1993 and created the Las Primeras Abogadas Annual Award.  On the celebration of its 10th Anniversary in September 2018, the Latina Commission honored Dolores with its award.  Other notable honors include the Ohtli Award (2014), Mexico’s most prestigious award presented to non-citizens of Mexican heritage; the CHBA Lifetime Achievement Award (2016); and honor (March 2016) by the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC, founded 1992) as one of four CBAC founders, all women leaders of their respective bar associations.

Select Works

Luminarias de la Ley | Luminaries of the Law Exhibit (inaugural showing) November 2015 – February 2016, presented by DU Archives and Special Collections Department, Anderson Academic Commons

  • Digital Luminarias Exhibit, late Spring 2019, projected on-line posting date

Author, The Super Minority:  The Status of Latina Lawyers in the United States,” National Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (ILLP), ILLP Review 2014:  The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession, March 2015,

Author and researcher, “Saluting Latinas in the 50 States,” printed and distributed by the HNBA, Annual Convention, Washington, D.C., September 2014, (limited quantities published)

Co-author and researcher, Denver Women’s Commission “Windows into Denver Women & Girls,” an assessment of critical issues impacting Denver’s Women and Girls, March 2014,

Author and researcher, “Las Primeras Abogadas – Una Historia, Celebrating 100 Years of Achievement,” printed and distributed by the HNBA, September 2013 (limited quantities published)

Author, “The Making of An American Justice:  The HNBA’s Quest for the First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice,” Hispanic National Bar Association Journal of Law and Policy, Volume 2, Issue 1, Summer 2010, chronicling the HNBA’s 40-year struggle for the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice,

Chaired second HNBA national study and report on Latina lawyers in the public, “La Voz de la Abogada Latina:  Challenges and Rewards in Serving the Public Interest,” September 2010,

Chaired and organized first HNBA national study and report on Latina lawyers in the private sector, “Few and Far Between:  The Status of Latina Lawyers in the United States,” Sep. 2009,

American Bar Association Commission (ABA) on Women, Chair, ABA’s Minority Women’s Attorney Network, 2nd edition, “Burdens of Both, Privileges of Neither,” 1996

Researcher & Producer, “Las Primeras,” 50-minute documentary on 21 of the country’s first Latina lawyers, 1994

Sturm College of Law
University of Denver
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208