Teamwork Leads to Triumph at 3 Pillars Law

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Sturm College of Law Alumni Byron Elliott and Katie Pierce have worked as a team since 2009. That fall, as single parents starting in Denver Law’s night program (now the Professional Part-Time Program), they decided to join forces and alternate childcare duties while the other attended classes.

Nearly 14 years later, they continue to work together in building upon their personal and professional legacies, with a combined 46 years of service in the United States Army, and a unique business model with their firm, 3 Pillars Law.

The firm has a history of hiring military spouses, military members, and family members of service members, and the majority of their attorneys graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The firm also hosts interns from the law school. Their coaching is so valuable, that this Spring, Elliott was awarded Outstanding Private Sector Externship Supervisor by the Denver Law Externship Program. The student who nominated Elliott emphasized how he has “gone above and beyond as a supervisor, exemplifying leadership and mentorship” and “demonstrated the role of service in an attorney’s career through his substantial commitment to the veteran community.”

From their businesses to their personal lives, Elliott and Pierce are partners in every sense of the word.

Origins of the A-Team

Byron Elliott and Katie Pierce met over a year before starting law school, when Elliott recruited Pierce to his Army Reserve unit, and they both had an interest in pursuing law.

“One of the things that I was interested in, at a very young age, and I think it was after reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and seeing Atticus Finch and all that he did, was to go to law school,” Elliott explained. But, at age 17, he enlisted in the Army and received a Green to Gold Scholarship to go to college.

“About ten years into my service, I decided to transition out and go to DU,” he said.

That didn’t happen. Instead of attending Denver Law, Elliott was sent to Iraq. After his time in Iraq, he returned and was stationed in Wheat Ridge as a recruiting company commander. Along the way he earned his MBA, returned to military mobilization, and worked as a contractor with the University of Colorado ROTC program. Pierce also worked as a Recruiting Officer for the ROTC program for a short time.

Part-time military herself, Pierce was interested in what Elliott’s plans were at Denver Law, where he was finally set to enroll.

“At the time, I qualified for the post-9/11 GI bill, and DU had the Yellow Ribbon program, which provided additional money toward tuition,” she explained. Pierce had a childhood dream of becoming a judge, and DU’s flexible program could make her dream a reality.

The strict schedule and workload associated with the night program, combined with their military obligations, civilian jobs, and commitments as parents, would have deterred a lesser team. The A-team persevered with a work ethic and discipline that has continued to inform their professional achievements.

“It actually took us four and a half years to finish the program,” Pierce explained, “because I got deployed to Afghanistan in the middle.”

Determined, and together, they graduated in 2013. Since then, they have both been in and out of the Active Guard Reserve and the Army Reserve. They also formed a small family law firm (Pierce Elliott), a property management company, and a real estate investment company; and managed to keep a strong partnership both professionally and personally.

“We wouldn’t be able to do all of this if we didn’t have each other to rely on,” Pierce said.

3 Pillars Law

Four years ago, the A-team decided to shift from family law and general practice, away from their named firm, toward building a firm with more potential to leave a legacy.

3 Pillars Law, their new firm, focuses on small business, acquisition, and private equity. Its flexible structure allows them to balance their numerous interests and passions. With Pierce currently a Colonel in the Army Reserve, serving as a Brigade Commander of the 652 Regional Support Group in Helena, Montana, Elliott has assumed primary leadership in the Firm. But, they explain, they can easily shift responsibilities based on workload, interests, and life.

“A lot of times you can be stuck on a path and not be happy with it, but you can’t get out,” Pierce explained. “We have been able to adapt a couple times; from re-forming Pierce Elliott, to shifting away from family law, to re-structuring how our firm is set up.”

While Elliott and Pierce serve as managing partner and partner attorney, respectively, the rest of the firm is of-counsel. This structure allows their attorneys to take clients that interest them, enables them to pursue other interests outside of the firm, and provides flexibility.

“I really like where we are right now, I like the structure,” Elliott explained. “We have skilled of-counsel attorneys that we can bring on board for specific clients, and meet the client need, but they don’t have to deal with the back-end stuff. They get to practice law.”

From a business perspective, Elliott and Pierce’s military experience significantly informs 3 Pillars’ operations.

“I don’t think you can understate how important that was,” Elliott explained. “From systems and processes, to developing culture, to hiring the right talent.”

“It has also helped with the referral business,” Pierce weighed in. “It’s a large but small community, so when people know our background, they reach out to us. We have hired military spouses, military members, family members of service members. We understand the differences, of what they need and what they go through.”

Creating a Legacy

A pride point of 3 Pillars is business development – not only for themselves, but also for others so that they, too, can find success.

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“Our interns come in, they learn our culture, they learn systems we have put in place,” Elliott said. “We are using our experiences and our businesses, to make people’s lives better.”

“There is a coaching aspect to providing legal services,” Pierce added. “That is what we are good at, that is what we enjoy.”

“We like to maximize human potential,” Elliott said.

On their own legacy, both Elliott and Pierce see their experience as examples of success and want to share their knowledge. For example, they are in the process of starting a DU real-estate meet-up, to create ties with the campus and contribute to an educational environment in which students can prosper.

“We like challenges, we like to do hard things,” Pierce said.

One more thing.

“If anything in our background sparks interest, and anyone reading this article wants to reach out to us to learn, please reach out to us,” Pierce said. “If you are looking for a mentor, please, contact me.”


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