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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
(303) 492-5289
[email protected]


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.


Location of Programs

The Public Service Pledge Program is a part of the Schaden Experiential Learning Program at University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado.



This program is under the supervision of the Director of Experiential Learning & Public Service Programs. Three volunteer student chairs each serving a three-year term (1L Chair, 2L Chair, and 3L Chair) support the Program Director.



The Public Service Pledge Program is funded through the Schaden endowment.


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.



Students who complete at least 50 hours of public service work will be recognized at graduation, and their public service will be reflected on their transcripts. The graduating 3L who earns and logs the most public service hours will be recognized at the Student Awards Banquet and will have their name added to a plaque.

The Clinics give an "Excellence in Clinical Legal Education" award to students, but this award is not tied to the number of hours students provide. It's an overall assessment made by the faculty who teach Clinics.

For faculty, there is the annual Clifford J. Calhoun Public Service Award.


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
(303) 492-5289
[email protected]


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
Civil Practice Clinic
Criminal Defense Clinic
Criminal/Immigration Defense Clinic
Entrepreneurial Law Clinic
Juvenile and Family Law Clinic
Natural Resources and Environmental Law Clinic
Technology Law and Policy Clinic
Sustainable Community Development Clinic


An externship is an opportunity to gain academic credit for doing substantive legal work with a government or non-profit agency (students cannot extern at private law firms or with private organizations).  In accordance with the goals of ABA Standard 304 and Law School Miscellaneous Rules and Decisions of the Faculty 24, 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.  Students receive close supervision and instruction from an attorney or judge at the placement, as well as supervision by the faculty of the law school through the engagement of the Director of Experiential Learning and Adjunct Professors.   Mandatory externship classes give students the opportunity to learn from and better reflect on their externship experiences.

Students may receive 2, 3 or 4 credits for an externship in a semester, unless special approval has been granted for a single semester 7-credit externship in Colorado or a single semester 10-credit externship at a national or international placement. 50 hours of work time is required for each externship credit. Colorado Law has a 7-credit cap on externship credits that apply toward graduation.


Classes with a Public Service Component

Consumer Empowerment


Public Interest Journals

Colorado Natural Resources, Energy, & Environmental Law Review


PI Career Support Center

Our Career Development Office (CDO) is dedicated to helping students find opportunities with employers of all types, including public service employers. "Public service" encompasses both public interest and government employers.

The CDO has strong relationships with public service employers and engages in ongoing outreach to build and maintain relationships within the public service community in order to create job opportunities for students and graduates. Our programs allow students to engage with public service employers, help students learn about public service opportunities, and educate students about how to develop strategies for pursuing public service opportunities.

Our thorough understanding of students' backgrounds and interests combined with our knowledge of public service employers' missions, needs, and preferred qualifications enable us to effectively connect students and graduates with employers that fit their public service goals.


Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Colorado Law is dedicated to making public interest legal careers a real option for our graduates, despite the reality of educational debt. Colorado Law's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides partial loan repayment awards to select alumni who choose qualifying public interest work. Awards may be as much as $5,500 per recipient per year, depending on the availability of funds and other factors. Through our LRAP, alumni may receive up to 5 years of loan repayment assistance. Applications are accepted once a year in the fall.


Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Judicial Fellowship Program:

Through the Judicial Fellowship Program ("JFP"), Colorado Law hires recent Colorado Law graduates to work up to 500 hours each for judges, courts, or certain government agencies during the months of October through March. The JFP is meant to provide recent graduates with meaningful work experience; enable recent graduates to focus on professional development while seeking long-term, full-time employment; facilitate networking and resume development that will further recent graduates’ career and employment goals; and serve the legal community, particularly the judiciary.

Colorado Law hires Fellows to perform up to 500 hours each of work for judges and certain government agencies. Through this program, Colorado Law hopes to assist recent graduates who are actively seeking long-term employment by providing those graduates with financial support, meaningful work experience, professional growth and development, and additional connections that will further their career goals.

Denver City Attorney’s Office Fellowships:

Through this annual fellowship program, funded in part by Colorado Law School and in part by the Denver City Attorney’s Office, 6 recent graduates (the “Fellows”) of the University of Colorado Law School (“Colorado Law”) work full-time for, and under the supervision of, the Denver City Attorney’s Office (the “DCAO”). Colorado Law and the DCAO expect this program to provide meaningful work experience to the Fellows and the Fellows to provide valuable work to the DCAO.

Fellows work for one year, beginning in the fall (employment is at will, with the understanding that the DCAO may continue to employ any of the Fellows beyond the duration of the program). Currently, there are six Fellows selected each year to serve the following divisions of the DCAO:

  • Civil Litigation
  • Employment and Labor
  • Human Services
  • Municipal Operations
  • Airport
  • Prosecution and Code Enforcement

When the DCAO is accepting applications for this program (typically a cover letter, resume, and writing sample), we will email the graduating class and post the opportunities in CDOnline. Representatives of the DCAO will review and screen applications, interview finalists, and select the Fellows. Applicants may apply to more than one of the divisions of the DCAO.

David H. Getches Native American and Natural Resources Law Fellowship:

The David H. Getches Native American and Natural Resources Law Fellowship was made available as the result of a generous gift from the Wyss Foundation. The Getches Fellowship will support a recent Colorado Law School graduate in carrying out a project that addresses a significant issue or issues of importance in Native American and/or natural resources law. The fellowship will be awarded through a competitive process to an applicant who demonstrates a sincere interest in pursuing a career in the field of Native American or natural resources law. The awardee will be hired by the University of Colorado Law School to work with the Natural Resources Law Center, in conjunction with the Center, or with a non–governmental organization, or Indian tribe, under the supervision of the Center.

A preference will be given to proposals that will allow the applicant to work at the law school and that address land and water conservation and stewardship and sound natural resource management in Indian country, and that have as at least one objective illuminating such issues for the benefit of tribal governments. Applicants may develop their own proposals but should consult with the appropriate organization with whom they wish to work and the Natural Resources Law Center to ensure the feasibility of the project. Applicants must have a mentor (faculty or other) who will provide guidance and help ensure that the fellow will succeed in the project.

Salary is $4,000 per month for 12-15 months. Start date is flexible but sooner is better (early August at the latest). The position is full-time, but someone who wanted to work part-time for a couple of months while studying for the bar exam might be accommodated. Salary would be prorated accordingly.


Graduate Student Funded:



Other Funding Sources:



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.

- This scholarship was established by Derril Kripke in memory of her husband, Kenneth, and is awarded to a student(s) pursuing a career in trial law who have volunteered for the Legal Defense Fund or other programs supporting indigent persons.


Graduate Student Funded



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:

Colorado Law’s Summer Fellowship Program provides financial support to Colorado Law students pursuing unpaid and extremely lowly paid summer public service job opportunities. Fellowships are available for public service work, with the exception of judicial internships and for-credit externships. Some fellowships are specific to particular practice areas, e.g. environmental law, public policy, and civil rights. Others are available for any practice area. To receive a fellowship/stipend, a student must secure and commit to a public service summer position. Funding amounts vary and most are limited to unpaid or extremely lowly paid work. Two of our student groups, the Women’s Law Caucus and the Public Interest Student Association award and fund summer fellowships/stipends under the umbrella of our Summer Fellowship Program. Colorado Law’s Summer Fellowship also features fellowships which are supported by endowed funds provided by supporters of our law school and its public service-minded students.


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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Colorado Law Chapter provides support for the various the initiatives of the ACLU of Colorado, including but not limited to: having a member of the law school serve on the board of the Colorado ACLU, attending various legislative hearings and sessions on the ACLU’s behalf, participating in field work in Boulder and surrounding areas, driving various ACLU initiatives forward as a chapter, and using free student access to legal search engines and data bases to assist the ACLU in research.