The University of Denver College of Law opened its doors in 1892, becoming the first law school on the American frontier. Within fifteen years, it unveiled the nation’s first clinical program. In 1957, DU’s College of Law merged with Westminster Law School, which then offered the only night-course law program between Kansas City and the Pacific Coast. Today, the Sturm College of Law carries these traditions forward, with nationally ranked clinical and evening programs.
Denver Law has reflected the promise of diversity and inclusiveness since its very first class of fourteen students. The 1892 inaugural class included a woman, an African American, and a foreign national from Japan. The first woman to become a member of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations and one of the first two women admitted to the American Bar Association graduated from our hallways.
During the civil rights movement, Dean Robert B. Yegge created a summer program to increase access to legal education among Latinos and other people of color, an initiative funded by the Ford Foundation. Building from that successful model, the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools established the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) in 1968.
Like many law schools, Denver Law offers an array of programs that specifically serve diverse communities. Today, Yegge Scholarships carry Dean Yegge’s legacy forward with financial support for successful applicants from diverse backgrounds. Our Lawyering-in-Spanish program offers courses in Immigration, International Business Transactions, and Labor, as well as Spanish language classes for students whose first language is not Spanish, or who are not fluent in Spanish. Each of our six clinical programs is designed to connect SCOL students and resources with disenfranchised individuals and groups in our community. The Chancellor’s Scholarship program rewards students who aim to serve the public interest post-graduation. Relatively new to Denver Law are the Racial, Social and Economic Justice Externship Program, linking our students to lawyers, organizations and agencies addressing issues of social justice; and the Hybrid Immigration Externship Program, teaching students to become effective lawyers through representation of immigrant clients, policy advocacy and provision of legal education to immigrant communities.