Hard work stands out, according to attorney
The Mesa County District Attorney’s office had a secretarial staff full of women but just one other female attorney when Martelle Daniels began working there in 1983.
It was a ratio she noticed but not something that bothered her. “This is a profession where hard work stands out. If you work hard, you’re going to do well, regardless of what, if any, discrimination is out there,” Daniels said.
Daniels said she was treated as an equal by the male magistrates who appointed her four years later, when she became Mesa County’s first female district court magistrate. She was pregnant at the time she got the job, something that concerned one of the magistrates because she would soon be on maternity leave, but she left for eight weeks after giving birth and was back to work.
After being shot while jogging in the desert in 1994, Daniels decided to exit her very public job and go into private practice. She went to Young & Hockensmith, then left to start a law firm with Sharon Sturges in 2005. Daniels & Sturges LLC welcomed a third lawyer to the practice last year, Kellie Starritt.
Some men pick Daniels as their divorce attorney because they believe it will make them look better when presenting their side of events. Some male clients are uncomfortable taking advice from a woman. But for the most part, Daniels said, whether the client is male or female, she gets treated like any other attorney.
Daniels and her four sisters were raised in Richmond, Ind., by a widowed father who worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist. With her father’s support, Daniels didn’t hesitate to go to law school at the University of Denver, where her classmates were evenly split by gender, thanks to an effort by the school to accept just as many women as men.
Daniels and her husband, Frank, who is also an attorney, have three daughters. One is in high school, another just graduated from the University of Colorado with an architecture degree, and another works for Sen. Mark Udall. Daniels said her husband was “a great contributor” to the children’s upbringing, but she admits balancing a career and children was tough.
“When they were younger I worked part-time, meaning I was at the office part-time and worked during lunches and when they were asleep,” Daniels said.