110 Years of Clinical Education
We recently celebrated 110 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 law students could provide that help while simultaneously learning important practice skills. Thus, opened as a “legal aid dispensary” in 1904, the University of Denver was the first in the country to offer law students academic credit for representing poor persons. Today the Clinical Programs strives to create an educational atmosphere in which law students can refine their lawyering skills while providing quality representation to indigent clients.
While considered unusual in 1904, 110 years later clinical legal education is a critical part of all law schools’ curricula. Today, the University of Denver’s Clinical Programs has five in house clinics, including: criminal defense, civil litigation, civil rights, community economic development and environmental law. This range of clinical offerings provides students opportunities to learn many different skills including pretrial and trial and transactional. 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 Clinical Programs 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.