Law School Clinical Program
From Laura Rovner, Ronald V. Yegge Clinical Director and Associate Professor of Law…
In 2004 we celebrated 100 years of clinical education at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. In 1904, Dean Lucius W. Hoyt had the foresight and vision to recognize that poor and underserved communities need legal help, and that students could provide that help while simultaneously learning important practice skills. Thus, the College of Law’s legal-aid dispensary was born, a place where students could develop as attorneys under the watchful eye of faculty who were also experienced practitioners.
While considered unusual in 1904, 100 years later clinical legal education is a critical part of all law schools’ curricula. Today, the University of Denver’s Student Law Office (SLO) has six in house clinics, including: criminal defense, civil litigation, civil rights, community economic development, environmental, and mediation and arbitration. This range of clinical offerings provides students opportunities to learn many different skills including pretrial and trial, transactional and mediation & arbitration. Students have the opportunity to interview and counsel clients, develop case theory, investigate and engage in discovery, negotiate with adversaries, mediate settlements and engage in the trial of disputed matters and draft contracts and bylaws, article of incorporation, etc. They learn legal ethics and practice in a range of areas including issues of confidentiality and conflict of interest. The SLO emphasizes case management skills, enabling students to handle their cases effectively and efficiently. Finally, our students develop sensitivity to and empathy for the plight of underserved clients.
The SLO gives students the opportunity to learn about lawyering skills in the real world of clients who face a variety of issues for which they might not otherwise have legal representation. At the same time, the SLO provides students the opportunity to learn and practice these skills under the supervision of clinic faculty who work to ensure that all students obtain valuable educational experiences. Working in the SLO is one of the most exhilarating and gratifying experiences of our students’ law school careers. It is spectacular to watch them grow into skilled and dedicated attorneys.