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Burg Simpson: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
by Bill on 12/19/2012
When one thinks about lawyers, all sorts of images come to mind. But when you talk with Peter Burg from the Burg Simpson law firm in Denver, you suddenly get a brand new perspective, not only on lawyers, but on how business people choose to give back in their communities. Practicing for 33 years, Peter Burg started out as a defense lawyer for construction and insurance companies. He moved into plaintiff litigation because he had a heart for representing the ‘voiceless’, including victims of the wrongdoing of others, and small businesses that had lost their insurance coverage.
Despite the jokes and comments that often come with his chosen profession, Burg explained that he has always felt like he was a good person, but there came a time in his life when he felt as if he needed, and wanted, to do more.
“Giving, for me, started out partly because I thought it would be good for business,” explained Burg, “but I quickly realized how good it made me feel. What it comes down to is that you can’t tell a person you’re good, you have to prove it in your actions. You have to live the life.”
One of Burg’s big passions is for the people at Craig Hospital in Denver. Craig Hospital treats people with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Many years ago as a newcomer to Colorado, Burg often looked for ways to engage in the community, network, and meet people. One day while he was working out at a local gym, he was approached by a friend who was involved with Craig Hospital, and was asked to join a planning committee for the annual PUSH dinner put on by Craig Hospital. Burg said yes, and the rest is history.
Over the last ten years, Burg has been involved with Craig Hospital and helping with the annual PUSH event, as well as serving on both the Operating Board of Directors and Foundation Board. Burg is also a past Chairman of the Board of Directors.
“The screening process was intense,” recalls Burg about his Board appointment, especially given that he is the only plaintiff trial lawyer to date on the Board of Directors. “They wanted to make sure there was no perception of conflict of interest and wanted to also ensure that I was committed personally. It’s easy for me to be on the Board because I love what they do for patients and their families during what is often a very difficult time.”
Burg Simpson gives to numerous organizations beyond Craig Hospital. When someone in the Burg Simpson organization is passionate about a cause, they take notice. The firm gives charitably to organizations like Kaps for Kendall, The Wild Plum Center, the Ali Meyer Foundation, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“Plaintiff lawyers are often tagged as living off of people’s woes and misfortunes,” commented Burg. “We want to change that image, which includes working with and giving to charities and organizations that resonate with us. We want to make sure that we are passionate about and connected to what that organization is doing. Otherwise it doesn’t really mean anything.”
For example, someone at the firm is actively involved in The Wild Plum Center. Burg Simpson has no connection to them from a business sense, but wanted to help because their team member was so passionate about them. Kaps for Kendall came about initially from the involvement of a legal assistant, and that person’s commitment caused Burg Simpson to take the next step and become more deeply involved. Members of the firm now knit caps for people undergoing various medical treatments that cause hair loss. The firm helped set up the Ali Meyer Foundation after she was severely injured by a drunk driver. Burg Simpson worked with Ali’s parents to start the foundation. Burg Simpson has been a Platinum sponsor of their annual fundraising event for the last 10 years.
Burg said that over the years they’ve looked into numerous possible organizations and charities. They are very selective and don’t commit when it doesn’t resonate with them. When people don’t connect deeply with an organization for one reason or another, they move on.
How Giving Has Changed His Life
Burg’s lifestyle is beyond anything he could have ever imagined, and he is grateful that he can do the things he wants to do with his family and feel secure. It gives him the time he wants to enjoy his individual passions.
“My dad was a ‘working stiff’ and did all he could just to put food on the table and a roof over our family’s head,” commented Burg. “The notion of ‘getting joy out of work’ was a foreign concept to him and I’m grateful to be able to have joy in my own life and career. I can do this by giving back. It gives me a deeper sense of satisfaction.”
Advice for Small Businesses
When asked what advice he would give small business owners in terms of giving back in their own communities, Burg offered these suggestions:
- You’ll be better at what you do by being involved in doing something that’s for the good of others. You’ll begin to see the intangible, positive business results.
- Pick a cause that’s meaningful to you. You could be wrong, but give it some time and see how it resonates with you before committing or moving on.
- Rally upper management on the cause; get them to meet the players, tour the facility, and learn more about it.
- Rally your team. This is great for team building because everyone comes together for something bigger and better than they are, and bigger than just doing business.
- Get involved slowly. Perhaps do an in-house fundraiser for the organization, get involved in an event they are having, or sign up for team volunteer days.
Burg’s over-arching advice is to find something that’s meaningful to you and your organization so that everyone wins.
“I’m personally drawn to the ‘voiceless’ in our community,” Burg shared. “I like to look out for the little guys and try to improve their situation, in small ways and large ones. My ‘nirvana’ is going to be the moment when I can give totally anonymously. I’m not quite there yet, but that is my ultimate goal.”