John Vaught Accepts Gavel as Colorado Bar Association President


Denver: In a Friday afternoon ceremony on June 29, 2018, John Vaught, senior counsel at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, accepted the gavel from outgoing Colorado Bar Association President Dick Gast and took on the responsibilities of the CBA presidency for the 2018-2019 term. Emma Garrison, also a WTO attorney, is serving as Senior Vice President for the same term.

Firm Chair Michael O’Donnell praised Vaught and Garrison. “John and Emma both exemplify the high standards of excellence, service, and integrity that WTO prioritizes. We are honored and pleased for them both to serve Colorado’s legal community in such meaningful roles.”

Dick Gast and John Vaught

Vaught is a long-standing CBA member and has served in numerous roles and on various committees over the years:

  • President, Denver Bar Association
  • Chair, DBA Young Lawyers Division
  • Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors
  • Military & Veterans’ Affairs Section
  • Liaison & Budget Committee
  • Standing Committee for CBA Mentoring
  • Multidisciplinary Practice Task Force
  • Reporting Liaison for the Chief Justice's Commission on Civil Justice
  • Founder and former chairman of the Securities Litigation Subsection

In 2017, Vaught, a Vietnam veteran, received the Colorado Governor’s Service Award for Outstanding Veteran Volunteer based on his work with Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans (CLCV). In 2011 he helped establish CLCV, with the CBA, to provide pro bono legal services to Colorado veterans, active duty service members, and their families. The program offers free legal advice through clinics held around the state. It also provides no-cost or low-fee legal services to veterans who require further help. CLCV is responsible for delivering thousands of hours of pro bono and reduced-fee legal services to hundreds of veterans across Colorado. The program has helped more than 2,000 Colorado veterans and their families to date.

As President of the DBA in 2014-2015, Vaught focused on increasing engagement particularly among younger lawyers. He introduced 15 by 15, an initiative by the Board of Trustees and the Young Lawyers Division to increase membership 15% by the end of 2015. Vaught also established the Bar Ambassadors program to identify and recruit managing partners and their appointees in every major law firm in Denver as liaisons with the DBA. The result has been enhanced communications and enriched knowledge of DBA programs and benefits in every firm in the city. Vaught also introduced iBelong, a DBA marketing initiative that articulates specific reasons young lawyers are well served to join the Bar Association.

Vaught's complex commercial litigation practice emphasizes commercial matters, insurance class actions, insurance bad faith and coverage disputes, corporate governance issues, liability and director and officer insurance disputes, and appeals. In over 30 years of practice, Vaught has gained substantial litigation, mediation, and trial experience in the federal courts and in Colorado state courts. He also serves as an AAA-trained mediator. Vaught is listed in numerous rankings directories, including the Best Lawyers in America, Colorado Super Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation, and others.

Garrison represents clients in sophisticated and high-stakes commercial and torts litigation. She is a member of the WTO client team serving McKesson in numerous matters, including nationwide mass torts litigation involving the drug Lipitor. Garrison previously served as Chair of the CBA’s Young Lawyers Division Executive Council and currently sits on the DBA Board of Trustees. She also co-chaired the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Annual Convention Committee in 2017.

Contact: Matt Plavnick | 303.244.0103 |

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell lawyers have taken more than 1,100 trials, arbitrations, and appeals to verdict, award, or opinion in 45 states and Washington, D.C. with exceptional results for our clients. Established in 1998, WTO currently numbers 100 lawyers in three offices. The firm represents sophisticated clients in high-stakes civil trials, appeals, and related litigation ranging from complex commercial to class actions to multidistrict litigation. For more information, visit