University of Colorado School of Law

University of Colorado
School of Law
401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Deborah Cantrell
Director of Clinical Programs & Associate Professor of Law
P: (303) 492-5289

Chris McKee, J.D.
Program Director for Schaden Experiential Learning & Public Service Programs
Schaden Experiential Learning Program
University of Colorado Law School
P: (303) 492-6562

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with a Coordinator

Description of Programs

Colorado Law integrates public service and public interest law throughout the school. Public service is an integral part of a lawyer's professional obligation and an essential ingredient in a legal career. The law school's voluntary public service program provides law students with skills and values, such as legal research and writing, client interviewing, and legal argument development. These skills prove valuable early in legal careers and promote a lifetime commitment to law-related community service.

Students can sign the Colorado Law Public Service Pledge and commit to 50 hours of law-related public service work, not for credit or other compensation, during their time at the Law School. Students who fulfill their pledge will be recognized at graduation, and their public service will be reflected on their transcripts.

To count towards the Pledge, work must be law-related, must not be done for credit or other compensation, and must be supervised by a licensed attorney or a Law School faculty member. Qualified activities include those that require lawyering skills, such as legal research and writing, interviewing, counseling, oral or written advocacy, or representation of individuals in court, administrative, or other hearings. Other qualifying work includes public education activities, such as preparing for and delivering lectures on legal topics or writing informational brochures or web information on legal topics for under-served communities, and service to the legal profession or legal institutions.

Students have several options for completing their hours. Pre-approved opportunities are posted on the program's Westlaw TWEN page. Students can also locate or create their own projects and receive pre-approval from the program director. After completing their hours, students must fill out a work documentation form, including a log of their hours and a supervisor's signature. Hours are entered and recorded by the student coordinator. Since the 2008-2009 school year, data on both the number of students who have signed the pledge, and the number of hours completed has been collected.

Location of Programs

The Public Service Pledge Program is a part of the Schaden Experiential Learning Program.


This program is under the supervision of the program director, Chris McKee. This program also has a student coordinator.


The Public Service Pledge Program started in the fall of 2008 as a University of Colorado Institute for Ethical and Civil Engagement model project. It is partially funded by the Institute and partially funded by the Law School.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

The Christian Legal Society is engaged in pro bono work by participating in a legal aid program put on by Christian lawyers in the Denver area.

The National Lawyers Guild is engaged in pro bono work by helping to represent people that were arrested during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

The University has general guidelines that faculty members should devote 40% of their time to teaching, 40% to scholarship, and 20% to service. Some faculty members exceed this commitment to pro bono through various committee work, direct client representation, and through general pro bono work. Faculty are required to do written reporting on an annual basis, and their involvement in pro bono activities is considered when making tenure decisions

In May 2008, Professor Amy J. Schmitz was awarded the Clifford Calhoun Public Service Award, given annually to the person who contributes to the public service of the Law School in the spirit and tradition of the contributions Professor Emeritus Clifford Calhoun made in his 29-year Law School career. Her involvement with the Colorado Bar Association committee in revising Colorado's version of Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code ended with the enactment of revised Art. 9. Professor Schmitz is currently the advisor for Women's Law Caucus (WLC) and co-advisor for the Construction and Real Estate Law Association (CREALA). She is also involved with CU's Service Learning program and Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement.


Clifford Calhoun Public Service Award - This is awarded annually by vote of the faculty to the faculty person who contributes to the public service of the Law School in the spirit and tradition of the contributions that Professor Emeritus Clifford Calhoun made in his twenty-nine year Law School career.

The Law School hosts an annual awards ceremony where members of the student body are recognized for their commitment to public service, their clinical achievements, and their commitment to clients.

Recently, an awards ceremony was established specifically to recognize those students who completed the Public Service Pledge Program.

Community Service

The Colorado Election Law Project is involved in the community by hosting voter registration drives to get law students and faculty registered to vote in Colorado. CELP advances the cause of voter participation free of charge.

The Law and Medicine Society is involved in the community by hosting a toy drive for children's units in local Colorado hospitals.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Deborah Cantrell
Director of Clinical Programs & Associate Professor of Law
P: (303) 492-5289

Chris McKee, J.D.
Program Director for Schaden Experiential Learning & Public Service Programs
Schaden Experiential Learning Program
University of Colorado Law School
P: (303) 492-6562

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

The American Indian Law Program provides students with comprehensive opportunities to acquire specialized knowledge in American Indian law--through curriculum, Clinic, Certificate Program, National Tribal Court Law Clerks Program, externships, Students Association, conferences and events, and more.

The Juvenile and Family Law Program provides students with opportunities to acquire specialized knowledge in juvenile and family law, engage in interdisciplinary work in the study and practice of juvenile and family law, and network and collaborate with students, academics, and practitioners.

Public Interest Centers

Center For Energy & Environmental Security (CEES) is an interdisciplinary research and policy center that facilitates progress toward a global sustainable energy future through the innovative use of laws, policies, and technology solutions. The program enables teaching and research into the impact of laws and policies on the scientific, engineering, sociopolitical, and commercial dimensions of sustainable energy. See

Natural Resources Law Center works to improve the governance and management of western natural resources by informing and influencing legal and policy decisions. See

Public Interest Clinics

American Indian Law Clinic - Students gain faculty-supervised experience providing legal assistance in a variety of matters, including tribal sovereignty, child welfare, preservation of tribal identity, employment discrimination, public benefits, preservation of Native lands, and more.

Appellate Advocacy Clinic - Students are responsible for completing an appellate brief for a criminal case currently on appeal in the Colorado Supreme Court or the Colorado Court of Appeals and for attending the oral argument.

Civil Practice Clinic - Students represent low-income clients in family law, social security disability, and immigration asylum cases.

Legal Aid and Defender Clinic<- Students are taught basic criminal practice skills and represent clients in actual cases, from beginning to end, in municipal and county courts in Boulder County.

Entrepreneurial Law Clinic - Students work with local entrepreneurs, providing transactional legal services for the formation and development of small businesses in Colorado.

Juvenile Law Clinic - Students represent children and youth who are abused, neglected, or accused of a crime, addressing all of the legal needs of the child client. They also represent school districts as the petitioner in truancy matters. Students focus on advanced trial advocacy with a mock child welfare trial.

Natural Resources Litigation Clinic - Students represent public interest clients in environmental litigation related to federal public land protection. Students learn about expert testimony and witness preparation, analysis of detailed scientific and environmental data, and submission of complex legal briefs.

Technology Law and Policy Clinic - Students advocate in the public interest concerning technology issues in front of regulatory entities, courts, legislatures, and regulation setting bodies.

Wrongful Convictions Clinic - Students work with Colorado prisoners who assert that they have been wrongly convicted of a crime, review trial and hearing transcripts, read discovery, conduct research, and make recommendations as to whether the case should be pursued.


An externship at Colorado Law is an opportunity to gain academic credit for doing substantive legal work with a government agency, private non-profit or public interest institution, or other private sector employer such as a law firm. In accordance with the goals of ABA Standard 305, Colorado Law's Externship Program aims to help students develop professional lawyering skills, gain insight into various aspects of the legal system and profession, and cultivate a sense of professional responsibility. The concurrent mandatory externship class sessions also gives students the opportunity to learn from and reflect on their field experiences. Students can receive four academic credits through this program, but also have the opportunity to petition for up to three additional credits. A list of past externship placements can be seen at

Classes with a Public Service Component

Consumer Empowerment

Public Interest Journals

Colorado Journal on International Environmental Law and Policy,

PI Career Support Center

Each year, the Office of Career Development welcomes nearly 70 employers to Colorado Law to interview students for summer clerkships, entry-level attorney positions, or internships. Participating employers include law firms, corporate legal departments, government legal offices, and public interest organizations. Colorado Law also co-sponsors the CU/DU Government & Public Interest Law Career Fair with the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The fair alternates annually between Denver and Boulder. The CU/DU Career Fair provides an excellent forum for students and employers to meet and discuss opportunities available in these fields. This event, which has an on-campus interview component for summer and post-graduate employment, brings approximately 45-50 public interest and government employers to the schools' campuses. On average, 20-25% of the employers attending the Career Fair participate in the interview portion of this event. Past employers have included the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Denver Center for Crime Victims, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense, U.S. Secret Service, DNA - People's Legal Services, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, and the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center, to name a few.

The Office of Career Development annually publishes a directory containing a listing of public interest legal organizations in Colorado that typically hire intern, externs, and volunteers. This publication has, and continues, to serve as a tremendous resource for our students who wish to pursue public interest careers. It is listed on the main Career Development website along with other job search resources and funding opportunities for those interested in public interest work. The Office also helps facilitate externships and volunteer opportunities for students interested in public interest and pro bono work. Specifically, the Office also annually co-hosts Public Interest Week in the fall semester with the Public Interest Students Association to bring various public interest practitioners to campus to talk about different public interest career paths. A "Funding Summer Public Interest Internships and Careers" workshop is also presented in the fall semester. Throughout the year, the Office also hosts various public interest speakers at the Law School for information sessions, which have included the Colorado Public Defender's Office, the Native American Rights Fund, Colorado Legal Services, the Immigrant Legal Center of Boulder County, and Western Resource Advocates, to name a few.

Colorado Law students attend the Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair in Washington, DC, where our law students have the opportunity to meet with and interview with more than 125 national public interest and government employers. Students also have access to The IMPACT Career Fair for Law Students and Attorneys with Disabilities, as well as The Lavender Law Conference.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The University of Colorado Law School is dedicated to helping its graduates make career choices that are right for them, despite the reality of educational debt. The Law School realizes that the burden of such debt may prevent students from choosing to work in low paying public service or non-profit organizations. Consequently, the Law School has established the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). LRAP provides partial loan repayment to selected students who choose qualifying public interest work.

The availability of funds, the size of LRAP awards, and the number of awards given annually may be adjusted as program resources, participation rates, and other factors change.

How LRAP Works

Students and graduates of the Law School apply for LRAP awards during the spring semester. LRAP awards are contingent upon the recipient's ongoing employment in a qualifying public interest job during the annual period for which the LRAP grant is awarded. Law School graduates are eligible to receive LRAP awards for up to three (3) years, provided that they continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Participants must re-apply during the second and third years to continue receiving benefits from the program.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for LRAP assistance, the applicant must be a graduate of or a graduating student from the University of Colorado Law School. Graduating students may apply for the LRAP during their third year of law school. Eligibility will be based on the following factors:

  1. Qualifying public interest employment.
  2. Employment income and financial conditions.
  3. Continued eligibility for duration of LRAP assistance.

Qualifying Public Interest Employment

The applicant's employment must be as a licensed, full-time (35 hours or more each week) lawyer working in a public interest capacity. There are three categories qualifying as working in a "public interest capacity:" (1) the lawyer works directly on behalf of economically disadvantaged clients, for or under the direction of an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC and exempt from tax under Section 501(c) of the IRC, and as determined by the Colorado Law School with reference to the requirements of Section 108(f) of the IRC; (2) the lawyer works for an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC and is exempt from tax under Section 501(c), provided that the employer cannot be the Law School, nor can the services be performed for the Law School; or (3) the lawyer works for a national, state, or local government agency.

Judicial clerkships do not qualify as employment in a "public interest capacity." The LRAP program is not intended to provide benefits to graduates who choose to take judicial clerkships, as most do not enter LRAP-eligible employment following these clerkships. Graduates who intend to proceed to LRAP eligible employment immediately following the end of their clerkships may apply to the program for benefits at that time.

Qualifying Debt Service

LRAP recognizes annual debt service only on law school loans approved by the University of Colorado. While a student's total debt burden is considered in her application, LRAP awards are designed to repay only law school loans approved by the University of Colorado. Any benefits received to help repay law school loans through another program may affect the amount of an LRAP award.

Employment Income and Financial Conditions

In order to qualify for LRAP assistance, the applicant's prospective and/or current income must not exceed $46,700. In determining applications for continuing eligibility, an allowance for annual gross salary increases of $2000 above $46,700 is allowed for each year of LRAP participation. In determining whether the applicant's annual gross salary exceeds the cap, any additional sources of the applicant's taxable income for that year will be considered.

Continued Eligibility

A current LRAP recipient may reapply for the next year and will receive assistance, provided all eligibility requirements are met. The eligibility requirements must be satisfied each year. Assuming all requirements are met and funding is available, LRAP assistance may be provided for up to three years. After the third year, an applicant may re-apply for additional years, assuming that all eligibility requirements continue to be met. However, new applicants for LRAP assistance (at whatever eligibility category level) will receive priority over previous award recipients who have already received LRAP assistance for three years. For both new applicants and for renewals, the Committee reserves the right to consider an applicant's total financial condition.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Silicon Flatirons Tech Policy Fellowship

Silicon Flatirons Intellectual Property Fellowship

Silicon Flatirons Transactional Fellowship

Center for Energy & Environmental Security Research Fellowship

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Dan Barash Scholarship - This scholarship was established in memory of Dan Barash ('02) by his parents, Norma & Paul Barash. This scholarship is awarded to a student who has participated in, or is participating in, a criminal clinic and intends to work for the Colorado Public defender or another indigent defense services provider.

Class of 1994 Seumsap Ly Memorial Scholarship - This scholarship was established by Seumsap's friends, family, and classmates to commemorate his life and recognize his personal, professional, and academic achievements. The recipient is a student who demonstrates a concern for Hmong or Asian issues and who has demonstrated service in the Asian community.

Davis Graham & Stubbs Scholarship - This scholarship is awarded to second-or third-year students who demonstrate high academic achievement, a commitment to the improvement of the legal profession, and enlargement of their contributions to the public interest.

Gene R. Nichol Scholarship - This scholarship was established by the lawyer William R. 'Bill' Daniels who was Chairman of Daniels Communication, Inc. Mr. Daniels was an active civil leader in Denver and nationally, and was a benefactor to higher education. Because of his long-time admiration of Gene Nichol, former professor and Dean of the law school, Bill established this scholarship to recognize students with strong financial need and a commitment to public service.

William E. and Maxine Rentfro Law Diversity Scholarship - This was established by Professor Emeritus William Rentfro and his wife Maxine, and is awarded to a student with financial need and to assist in the achievement of a diverse student body. The scholarship is given to a student who is committed to protecting and preserving human and civil rights and assisting those seeking full participation in the American dream.

Brian Shaha Scholarship - This scholarship is awarded to a student with a desire to work to provide legal services to indigent people upon graduation.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

Davis Graham & Stubbs Scholarship - Awarded to students who demonstrate high academic achievement and a commitment to the improvement of the legal profession and enlargement of its contributions to the public interest.

Gene R. Nichol Public Interest Scholarship

William E. and Maxine Rentfro Law diversity Scholarship - Awarded to a student who is committed to protecting and preserving human and civil rights and assisting those seeking full participation in the American dream.

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Environmental Law Society Summer Fellowship Program - emphasis on environmental and natural resources law and policy work

Jonathon B. Chase Fellowship - emphasis on human rights work

Hatfield Scholars Summer Internship Grant - emphasis on technology policy work

Graduate Student Funded:

Women's Law Caucus Public Interest Scholarships - emphasis on public interest work affecting women

Public Interest Student Association Public Interest Fellowships - emphasis on public interest work

Other Funding Sources:

Patton Boggs Public Policy Fellowship - emphasis on public policy work

Sangrund Environmental Law Fellowship- emphasis on environmental and natural resources law and policy work

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

The Law School hosts numerous national and local conferences every year. To name just a few, this year conferences included the: Colorado Journal on Environmental Law & Policy's Annual Spring Lecture: Making Sense of International Environmental Law; Byron White Constitutional Law Center, 16th Ira C. Rothgerber Jr. Conference: Home Rule; Natural Resources Law Center: Western Water Law, Policy, and Management: Ripples, Currents, and New Channels for Inquiry; and Silicon Flatirons Series: Entrepreneurs Unplugged.

Student Public Interest Groups

The Public Interest Law Student Association (PISA) works to create student awareness of public interest opportunities during law school and after, and works to raise funds for a public interest summer fellowship for students doing unpaid public interest legal work during their summers. PISA has organized students to volunteer at "Legal Night" in Denver where students are paired with an experienced volunteer attorney and help members of the community get information - free of charge - in the areas of immigration, credit, housing, landlord/tenant issues, employment and family law. Additionally, PISA, along with other students, organized a panel to address the Governor's proposed budget cuts to the Aid to the Needy and Disabled program. Since the Governor's office has announced funding will continue, the panel will be re-focused to address more general funding needs of the needy and disabled communities of Colorado. PISA always encourages its members to be proactive and volunteer in the community.

The Juvenile and Family Law Club is engaged in pro bono work by hosting a legal night program with local attorneys to give basic legal advice to victims of domestic violence. This student organization is also involved in the community by providing dinner for a local women's shelter every second Tuesday of the month and they also tutor students at West Denver Prep High School.

The Women's Law Caucus is dedicated to the awareness of women's issues in the legal profession. engaged in pro bono work by sponsoring fellowships for students who work in unpaid legal work relating to women's issues over the summer. In addition, the WLC will be hosting a canned food drive for Thanksgiving and they serve as annual volunteers for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non Violence's Chocolate Lovers Fling


The ACLU is community oriented and dedicated to ensuring civil liberty protection locally, state-wide, and nationally. The ACLU is engaged in pro bono work by getting involved as legal observers, legislative lobbying, and "Know Your Rights Trainings." The group also reaches out to the immigrant community regarding rights protections.

The Environmental Law Society is concerned with public interest environmental issues. It is engaged in pro bono work by getting involved in political canvassing for candidates who are friendly to the environment in the 2008 election. In addition, the ELS sponsors fellowships for members who work in unpaid summer public interest positions. Each year $7000 is given to four to six members who work in unpaid positions. This student organization is also involved in the community by getting involved with environmental clean-up and restoration activities.

The Latino Law Students Association sponsors a citizenship drive each semester to help immigrants complete paperwork to become U.S. citizens. The citizenship process can often be a frightening and trying experience for those who have difficulty understanding the complex forms and processes. In addition to overcoming a language barrier, most of the immigrants are from economically disadvantaged families or migrant farm workers who would not otherwise receive organized assistance. Not only have LLSA members used their foreign language skills to assist in the process, acting as interpreters between immigration experts and potential citizens, but also they have used their legal knowledge to answer questions and guide immigrants through the process. With the help of lawyers, judges, and other immigration experts, LLSA has assisted over 100 immigrants in the citizenship process.

August 7, 2018