Meet our Attorneys

Diane Vaksdal Smith

Of Counsel

Diane Smith
Diane Vaksdal Smith-5280 Top Lawyer 2016 Diane Vaksdal Smith - Super Lawyers Martindale Hubbell AV Professional Excellence

Ms. Smith focuses her practice on employment issues, representing both employers and employees, in cases involving claims of wrongful discharge, wrongful termination and infringement on civil employment rights. Ms. Smith also handles commercial litigation, involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty.

Additionally, Ms. Smith directs appellate litigation for the firm, appearing before the state and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. In 2015, she was listed in Top 50 Women Lawyers in Colorado, by Colorado Super Lawyers®, and was also named to the Top 50 Women Lawyers list in Law Week Colorado in 2015.

Ms. Smith joined Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C., in 1997. She has achieved the highest rating from her peers for quality of legal work, professionalism, and ethics and has received a preeminent “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell. Law Week Colorado named Ms. Smith as Barristers’ Best Employment Lawyer in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, and Barristers’ Best Appellate Lawyer in 2015. Law Week Colorado also selected her as one of the 2008 Top Women Lawyers of the Year. Ms. Smith has also been named a Top 100 Attorney by The National Trial Lawyers. Ms. Smith has been named to Benchmark Litigation’s Plaintiffs Top 150 Women Lawyers.

Ms. Smith served as a contract Magistrate Judge for the Seventeenth Judicial District, and handled small claims matters from January of 1996 to February 2002. She is the author of “The Small Claims Handbook.”

Ms. Smith received her license in 1984. Her past experience includes employment with Hall & Evans, LLC, the Kobayashi Law Offices and Mountain States Legal Foundation. Ms. Smith also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Karen S. Metzger, Colorado Court of Appeals.

Ms. Smith is a frequent lecturer in the Denver community on a variety of topics. She is also a contributing author to The Practitioner’s Guide to Colorado Employment Law. Ms. Smith is a past chair and current member of the Denver Bar Association’s Legal Fee Arbitration Committee and is a past member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Ethics and Attorney Regulation Committees. Recently Ms. Smith began working with the Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans, where she participates in the Committee’s Clinics for Veterans.

Ms. Smith contributed hats to Kaps for Kendall and she supports Toys for Tots; she also contributed an afghan for the Soldier Squares Project. Ms. Smith and her sons have been adopting and providing support for Marines since 2005. Over that time, they have adopted more than 1,000 Marines, and other service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ms. Smith serves as a member of the advisory board for Operation TBI Freedom.

Employment Litigation

Appellate Law

$5,000,000 settlement for pension beneficiaries

$300,000 settlement for teachers injured by sex discrimination

$250,000 settlement for victim of sexual harassment

$250,000 verdict for victims of gender hate crime


  • Hynes v. Energy West, Inc. 211 F3d 1193 (10th Cir 2000)

  • Hildalgo v. Fagen, Inc. 206 F3d 1013 (10th Cir 2000)

  • Powers v. MJB Acquisition Corp., 184 F3d 1147 (10th Cir 1999)

  • Slack v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 5P3d 280 (Colo. 2000)

  • Titan Indem. v. Sch. Dist. No. 1., 129 P3d 1075 (Colo. App. 2005)

  • Moreland v. Alpert, 124 P3d 896 (Colo. App. 2005)

  • Lin v. City of Golden, 97 Ped 303 (Colo. 2004)

  • Abraham v. Great Western Energy, LLC, 101 P3d 446 (Wyo. 2004)

Top 50 Women Colorado Lawyers, Colorado Super Lawyers®, 2015

Top 50 Women Lawyers, Law Week Colorado, 2015

Selected to Colorado Super Lawyers®, 2014-2016

Denver's Top Lawyers, 5280 Magazine, 2015-2016

Benchmark Litigation, Plaintiffs, Top 150 Women Lawyers, 2014

Local Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation, Colorado – Plaintiffs, 2013

Barrister’s Best People’s Choice Employment Lawyer, Law Week Colorado, 2010-2014

Barrister’s Best "Best Appellate Lawyer," Law Week Colorado, 2015

Top-Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment Law, FORTUNE Magazine, 2013

Outstanding Honors, University of Wisconsin-Superior

Highly Recommended by Benchmark Litigation Guide, 2012

Fellow, Colorado Bar Association Foundation

Top 100 Attorney, the National Trial Lawyers (NTL)

Top Women Lawyers as rated by Law Week Colorado’s comprehensive selection process (2008)

AV Preeminent® Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review is an outstanding achievement and demonstrates that a lawyer has earned the highest rating available for their legal ability and professional ethics.

Colorado, 1984

U.S. Claims Court

U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, 6th Circuit, 7th Circuit, 9th Circuit, 10th Circuit

U.S. District Court, District of Colorado

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan

U.S. Supreme Court

J.D., The University of Denver Sturm College of Law, 1984

B.S., University of Wisconsin-Superior, summa cum laude,1980

The National Trial Lawyers Association (NTL)

Colorado Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA)

Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors (2012)

Colorado Bar Association

Arapahoe County Bar Association (ACBA)

Member, Legal Fee Arbitration Committee, Denver Bar Association

Executive Board Member, Association of Wage and Hour Attorneys (AWHA)

Member of Operation TBI Freedom’s Advisory Board, providing services for service members who have returned with a traumatic brain injury or PTSD.

Executive Board Member of the Bar Association’s Military & Veterans Affairs

Active "adopter" of American servicemen and women, providing supplies for those stationed abroad and in harm’s way.

Involvement in Colorado Bar Association High School Mock Trial Competition

Participant in Kaps for Kendall

“Standards of Review 101” – Trial Talk Magazine, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, April/May 2013

9NEWS: 9Wants To Know with Jace Larson – Customers Fight Back Against Littleton Business

Contributing author – “The Practitioner’s Guide to Colorado Employment Law.”

The Colorado Lawyer (Feb., 2010)

Trends Regarding Housing Issues (Diane Vaksdal Smith)
© 2001 Diane Vaksdal Smith, Esq.

Ethics and Professionalism Issues in Employment Law Cases (Diane Vaksdal Smith)
© 2001 Diane Vaksdal Smith, Esq. and Kathryn E. Miller, Esq.

Finality of Judgment – Issue Preclusion, Claim Preclusion, and Law of the Case
© 2006 Diane Vaksdal Smith, Esq.
This Article was originally published in The Colorado Lawyer, Vol. 35, Issue No. 7 (July 2006)

Small Claims Handbook – A Guide for Non Lawyers (Diane Vaksdal Smith)
© 2001 Diane Vaksdal Smith, Esq.

Burg Simpson’s Alan K. Simpson Urges Trump to Keep Campaign Promise

 March 23, 2017

Burg Simpson’s Alan K. Simpson Urges Trump to Keep Campaign Promise

One of President Trump’s newest proposed executive orders is meant to protect “religious liberty.” Instead, it has the potential to legalize the discrimination of gays, women, and other minorities. As such, Burg Simpson founding shareholder Alan Simpson urges the president to think twice before signing it, arguing that not only is the measure wildly unpopular… Read more »

Michael S. Burg Makes Case for Supreme Court Nominee

 March 23, 2017

Michael S. Burg Makes Case for Supreme Court Nominee

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s lengthy Senate confirmation hearing is expected to wrap up this week. President Trump nominated Gorsuch, a 10th Circuit Appellate judge, last month to fill the late Justice Scalia’s seat after his sudden death last year. The Colorado native has drawn strong Republican support but faces critical Democrats concerned about his… Read more »

Winners Awarded in Burg Simpson College Scholarship Competition

 March 15, 2017

Winners Awarded in Burg Simpson College Scholarship Competition

Denver, CO – Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, one of America’s foremost plaintiff trial firms, announced the winners of its Fifth Annual College Scholarship Competition. Launched in 2012, the competition encourages seniors from across the state to write a 1,500-word essay about the importance of the civil jury system as the guardian of American… Read more »

5th Annual Jeremy Bitner 5K to support fallen officers

 March 7, 2017

5th Annual Jeremy Bitner 5K to support fallen officers

Denver, Colorado – On May 28th, 2012 Englewood Police Detective Jeremy Bitner lost his life after he was struck and killed by a vehicle while performing a traffic stop. The 8-year police veteran left behind his wife as well as a young son and daughter, and his absence was felt by other family members and… Read more »

Are Medical Malpractice Caps Costing Injured Colorado Residents?

 March 3, 2017

Are Medical Malpractice Caps Costing Injured Colorado Residents?

A recent article in the Legal Examiner, a legal periodical, asks provocative questions as to whether Colorado’s medical malpractice caps on non-economic damages are costing injured Colorado residents who have been the victims of medical malpractice.  The often-cited justification for caps on medical malpractice damages is to prevent the premiums for physicians’ medical malpractice liability… Read more »

Burg Simpson’s Colorado Insurance Bad Faith Attorneys Help Win Fight to Strengthen Consumer Rights

 February 24, 2017

Burg Simpson’s Colorado Insurance Bad Faith Attorneys Help Win Fight to Strengthen Consumer Rights

Burg Simpson congratulates shareholders Thomas W. Henderson and Brian K. Matise and attorney Nelson Boyle for their great win. On behalf of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, these Burg Simpson attorneys submitted a pro bono “friend of the court” brief in Nibert v. Geico Casualty Co, 2017COA23. With their help, Colorado insurance consumers’ rights are… Read more »

Recall Alert: Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder Recalled by Zimmer Biomet

 February 17, 2017

Recall Alert: Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder Recalled by Zimmer Biomet

Zimmer Biomet has issued a Class I Recall of its Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder due to higher than reported fracture rates.  Zimmer Biomet issued the recall on December 15, 2016.  The Zimmer recall includes thousands of Comprehensive Reverse Shoulders.  The recalled devices were distributed between October 2008 and September 2015.  As part of the shoulder recall,… Read more »

Burg Simpson Construction Defect Group Discuss Colorado Municipal Ordinances

 January 30, 2017

Burg Simpson Construction Defect Group Discuss Colorado Municipal Ordinances

Ronald Sandgrund (Of Counsel), along with Associates Jennifer Seidman, Leslie Tuft and Nelson Boyle of the Burg Simpson Construction Defect Group have co-authored a three-part article in The Colorado Lawyer. The article discusses the many recently enacted construction defect Colorado municipal ordinances, including their “right-of-repair,” “HOA disclosure and consent-to-sue” and arbitration procedures. Part 1 of… Read more »

Ring of Fire: Even Republicans Are Disgusted by The Republican Party

 May 3, 2016

Ring of Fire: Even Republicans Are Disgusted by The Republican Party

A Ring of Fire first! Host Farron Cousins talks to former Senator Alan Simpson in a unique opportunity on Ring of Fire to speak with a Republican about the current state of the Republican Party.

CBS 4: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

 April 28, 2016

CBS 4: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

CBS 4 in Denver highlights Burg Simpson attorney Michael S. Burg’s induction into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

Radio 850KOA: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

 April 28, 2016

Radio 850KOA: Michael Burg Inducted to Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame

Denver’s Radio 850KOA ran a news story about Michael Burg’s induction into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.

Burg Simpson Legal Minute: Civil Justice System

 April 21, 2016

Burg Simpson Legal Minute: Civil Justice System

Burg Simpson shareholder Calvin Tregre Jr. examines changes to the civil justice system, where limitations have been placed on monetary awards to seriously injured victims of corporate negligence. Are you protected?

Trial Talk magazine

 November 18, 2015

Trial Talk: Cross Appeal? Now What?

Burg Simpson Attorney and Shareholder Diane Vaksdal Smith’s article, published in CTLA’s Trial Talk, April/May 2015, addresses specifics of appellate practice and procedure. Download full article PDF

Net Neutrality

 November 18, 2015

Net Neutrality: A Panel Discussion

Rick D. Bailey contributes his opinion on Net Neutrality in this panel article published in Best Lawyers® Business Edition, Summer, 2015. Download full article PDF

The Trial Lawyer Magazine

 November 18, 2015

Homebuilders v. Homeowners

Threats to Shift an Already Tilted Playing Field More in Favor of Homebuilders Burg Simpson attorneys Jennifer A. Seidman and Ronald M. Sandgrund examine what could happen if lawmakers allow builders to take advantage of and mischaracterize the causes of the Great Recession’s lingering effects, and the facts regarding the real causes of the decline… Read more »

Rick Bailey - Hearing and Mishearing

 November 18, 2015

Hearing and Mishearing: Psychoanalytic Observations on the Attorney-Client Relationship

Trial lawyer Rick D. Bailey co-authored this white paper with David Stevens, a practicing psychoanalyst/clinical psychologist and associate professor at the university of Colorado Health Sciences Center. They address the attorney-client relationship throught the lens of psychoanalysis and cognitive neuroscience. Download full article PDF

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